“at my nativity
The front of heaven was full of fiery shapes,
Of burning cressets, and at my birth
The frame and huge foundation of the earth
Shaked like a coward.”
Thus Shakespeare introduces Owain Glyn Dŵr in his history play, Henry IV, Part I. Against this mythic character he pits the fool, Hotspur, aka Prince Hal, Percy to others, whose immediate reaction is to ridicule and belittle the rebel warrior, as so many English react to Celts, though he is dependent on the might of the Welsh in the rebellion against Henry IV.
On Thursday, September 16th, AD1400, between Corwen and Llangollen, in the village of Glyndyfrdwy, in the valley of the River Dee, Owain Glyn Dŵr met with like-minded Cymry (Welshmen) to address the despised governance of the English.
Though the Welsh-ruled enclave had been free of the foreign dominance, partly from English neglect and partly from its inaccessibility, Owain Glyn Dŵr and his supporters – friends, family, in-laws – began a war for Welsh independence that united the country and was never officially defeated.
Pardons were extended to rebels over the years, but Owain Glyn Dŵr passed into history and the legends of Wales when he disappeared along with his surviving son, Maredudd. The final mention of his name in government records was on 24 February 1416 in a renewed offer of pardon from the English king.
He had lost his son, Gruffudd. His wife and two of his daughters were captured and imprisoned. The wives and daughters of his supporters were taken to London and died in prison. Adam of Usk gave an account of Owain Glyn Dŵr’s mysterious burial, contributing to the legendary stature of this Welsh hero.
“But where his body lies is unknown.”
The red and gold banner of Glyn Dŵr flies over houses, castles and churches in Wales to this day.