databas cerddi guto'r glyn
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Rhisiart Cyffin ab Ieuan Llwyd, dean of Bangor, fl. c.1470–d. 1492

A total of eighteen poems for Rhisiart Cyffin by seven poets have survived in the manuscripts. Guto composed six of them:

Four poems for Rhisiart by Tudur Aled have survived:

  • a poem of praise, TA poem VIII;
  • to request millstones from Rhisiart on behalf of one Master Hanmer of Maelor, ibid. poem CXX;
  • a satire on Rhisiart and his poets, including Rhys Pennardd, Ieuan Llwyd and Lewys Môn, ibid. poem CXLI;
  • a poem of praise for Rhisiart and a satire on his successor, ibid. poem CXLV.

Llywelyn ap Gutun composed three satires on Rhisiart:

  • competing for Alswn of Anglesey and a satire on Rhisiart, GLlGt poem 8;
  • a satire on Rhisiart involving begging for lambs, ibid. poem 9;
  • a satire on Rhisiart involving Alswn of Anglesey and on his poets, including Rhys Pennardd, Hywel Rheinallt and Lewys Môn, ibid. poem 10.

There are two poems for Rhisiart by Lewys Môn:

  • a reply to the first poem above by Llywelyn ap Gutun in which Rhisiart is defended in the case of Alswn of Anglesey, GLM poem XV;
  • an elegy, ibid. poem XVII.

There are also other individual poems for Rhisiart by other poets:

  • a poem of praise by Hywel Rheinallt for St Dwynwen in which Rhisiart is praised as the parson of her church in Llanddwyn on Anglesey;
  • a poem by Ieuan Deulwyn to request oxen from Abbot Dafydd Llwyd of Aberconwy, Rhisiart and Wiliam ap Gruffudd of Cochwillan on behalf of Sir Rhys ap Thomas of Abermarlais, ID poem XXIV;
  • a poem of praise for Rhisiart by Sir Siôn Leiaf in which Guto, Hywel Grythor and Gwerful Mechain are satirized, Salisbury 2011: 101–18.

Furthermore, Lewys Daron composed a poem to request a horse from one of Rhisiart’s sons, Dafydd Conwy, on behalf of Siôn Wyn ap Maredudd (GLD poem 22).

The genealogical table below is based on Salisbury 2011: 73–77. The names of Guto’s patrons are underlined.

Lineage of Rhisiart Cyffin ab Ieuan Llwyd, dean of Bangor

Rhisiart was a cousin of Wiliam ap Gruffudd of Cochwillan and may have been distantly related to Sir Gruffudd ab Einion of Henllan.

His career
It is likely that Rhisiart began his ecclesiastical career as the parson of the parish church of Y Gyffin in the commote of Arllechwedd Isaf in May 1470 (the entire note is based on Salisbury 2011). Rhisiart was appointed dean of Bangor sometime between that date and 12 May 1478, the date of the earliest reference to him as dean. He was dean throughout the 1480s and died, in all likelihood, on 13 August 1492, and was buried inside the church.

The poets addressed Rhisiart as dean in almost every poem, yet they also took pride in the fact that he was parson of the church of Llanddwyn on Anglesey. Furthermore, parts of Guto’s poems to him show that he was active in the work of rebuilding parts of the church and the bishop’s palace in Bangor (58.7–10; 59.3–14). Following his support for Henry Tudor he received money to build a chantry for St Catherine inside the church. He also placed a stained glass window in the south-east wall of the church, in which both St Catherine and St Dwynwen were depicted. Rhisiart’s name appeared on the bottom part of the window with the title Magistri, which is echoed in the poets’ use of mastr Rhisiart ‘master Rhisiart’. It seems that he was a graduate in canon law.

Rhisiart’s cultural patronage was substantial. He provided more poetic patronage than any other medieval ecclesiastic who held an office in one of the four Welsh dioceses. Furthermore, the genres of the poems that were composed either for him or on his request are notably diverse, for they include a sizeable amount of satirical and light-hearted poems as well as more conventional praise. It seems that his sense of humour as a patron was healthier that most.

Salisbury, E. (2011), ‘Rhisiart Cyffin ab Ieuan Llwyd, Deon Bangor’, Dwned, 17: 73–118

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