History of the Cymry: First Millennium

43-400AD – The turbulent years of Roman occupation. Except for the brief excursions of Julius Caesar, this period of the history of the Cymry and their country, Cymru is the first from which we have written records, albeit from the point of view of the conquerors, who like their predecessor were no more inclined to tell the truth about the Cymry than was Gerald deBarry (Gerald of Wales) 800 years later for his French-speaking audience. So much is documented, I could write a whole book and still not cover everything, therefore besides the usual events concerning Buddug (Boadicea),  enslavement, recruitment as soldiers (to Spain, Africa and Syria) and becoming Roman citizens, the Roman era also brought: Christianity by merchants, missionaries and Roman soldiers; roads built by Celt slaves; gold and lead mining (some Cymry attribute their Greek surnames to the Grecian slaves at Dolaucothi in the far north of Sir Gaerfyrddin [Carmarthenshire]); Latin influenced the Celtic language with words involving building, commerce, slavery, punishment, education and religion; Macsen (Magnus Maximus) the Celt who became the emperor of Rome and loved Helen of Caernarfon (the Roman road between Caerfyrddin and Llanbedr Pont Steffan is still called Sarn Helen).

401-1066AD – This is the era of the history of the Cymry that most intrigues me. In the 5th, 6th, and 7thCenturies, the Angles and the Saxons pose a bloody threat to the whole of the Cymry no matter where they inhabit the island of the Britons. The Vikings are striking at the shores of Celt land in the far northeast. During this period, the Cymry were a Celtic-speaking collective of chiefdoms from Aberdeen (Aberdeen is “mouth of the Deen River” in Cymraeg) to Penzance. They had, in turn, invaded and colonized the western peninsula (Armorica) of France and named it Brittany, after themselves. (This is something of a reverse colonization since some of the original immigrants to Britain [2000-1500BC] came from this region.) While the Saxon’s called the Cymry Welsh meaning ‘foreigners/strangers’, the Cymry were still using the term Britons. Settlements of Irish were established in the west of Britain, such as Iona off the Isle of Mull and Ynys Môn. The fluctuations between who invaded and who was vanquished were constant. Cunedda and his sons, Cymry/British chieftains from Forth-Clyde, were credited with quelling the Irish invaders. The Arthurian legends (Ambrosius Aurelianus, Arthur, Cadwallon as this warrior-king is variously known) grew from the period of Saxon migration.

Next: First Millennium in Detail.


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Filed under Cymraeg/Welsh Language, Cymru/Wales, Hanes Cymru/Welsh History, Y Cymry/Welsh People

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