Category Archives: Cyfraith/Celtic Law

Between Rhodri & Hywel

Rhodri Mawr ruled until AD878 and is often considered the greatest of all the kings. The renowned historian, Nora Chadwick, was one of these. In his book, Seiri Cenedl / Nation Builders (Gwasg Gomer, 1986), the late Gwynfor Evans writes that Chadwick was one of the most important historians to bring the history of Cymru to the attention of the world. Rhodri is the only king to have earned the title Mawr (the Great).

Cymru/WalesDuring his reign, he brought the three largest regions of the country — Gwynedd, Powys and Deheubarth including Gŵyr (the Gower) — under his rule, without violence. Although his contemporary in Lloegr (England), Alfred the Great, unified his kingdom by conquest, Rhodri Mawr achieved the same success through a progression of political marriages, beginning with that of his father, Merfyn Frych when he married the daughter of Cynan, Nest, whose brother was king of Powys.

Nest and Merfyn’s son, Rhodri, married Angharad, the sister of Gwgon, king of Deheubarth and inherited the region when Gwgon drowned. Although there were three kings who established kingdoms in the 6th and 7th Centuries — Maelgwn Gwynedd, Cynan Garwyn and Cadwallon — Rhodri was the first to create a unified kingdom across the  majority of the country.

On the map above, Rhodri’s kingdom covered the upper left (Gwynedd and Ynys Môn), middle right, (Powys) and lower left (Deheubarth and Gŵyr). Clwyd and Flint (upper right) were close to Mercia and remained separate. Rhodri’s legacy was passed on to his grandson, Hywel Dda, ruling until AD950, the son of Rhodri’s son, Cadell.

When Rhodri died in a battle against the English in 878, his kingdom was divided — according to the Welsh tradition — between his sons. Cadell inherited Ceredigion and Ystrad Tywi (including Gŵyr). When his father died, Hywel inherited this kingdom with his brother, Clydog. After his brother’s death in 920, Hywel added Clydog’s part to his and had already acquired the small kingdom of Dyfed, Caerfyrddin and Tŷ Ddewi (St. David’s City) through his marriage to Elen, the daughter of the king of Dyfed.

Hywel Dda (the Good) was responsible for the codifying of Celtic laws dating back to the earliest known Celtic societies, from northern France, Ireland to the highlands of Scotland. For this achievement, he is considered one of the five most important lawmakers of antiquity.

Nora Chadwick’s books, Celtic Britain, The Celts, The Colonization of Brittany from Celtic Britain, etc. are among the best histories about Cymru and its past written in English. Also worth reading are Peter Berresford Ellis’s Celtic Women and The Journey Through Wales by Gerald of Wales, grandson of the legendary beauty, Nest, daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr and wife of Gerald of Windsor.

My historical novels are set in the 9th and 10th Centuries in Cymru(Wales), between the reigns of Rhodri Mawr and Hywel Dda.

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On This Day: July 27, 1967

In 1967, the Welsh Language Act (Deddf yr Iaith Gymraeg) was passed, allowing the use of the Welsh language in courts of law and the provision of Welsh language versions of official documents.

After over 600 years of English language domination and the English government’s policy of annihilation of the language of the Welsh people, in a country boasting one of the five most significant lawmakers (Hywel Dda – 10thC) in the history of the world, the Welsh Language Act sparked a cultural rejuvenation.

When I arrived in Wales, there was still a great deal to do. In 1984, the Welsh statesman, Gwynfor Evans, threatened a starvation strike to force Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to make good on the English Parliament’s promise to establish a Welsh language television channel (S4C). Gwynfor Evans was the first Plaid Cymru candidate to hold a seat in the English Parliament, elected in 1966.

For more information about the Laws of Hywel Dda, see my post on the Marriage Laws of Celtic Britain, or read my novel, Traitor’s Daughter, in which the hero, Garmon Dolwyddlan, is a legal scholar as well as a warrior-commander, both of which come in handy to protect Heledd Bannawg.

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Betrayal: Book 3, Pendyffryn: The Conquerors

LilyDewaruile_ Betrayal200“The best of men… the most treacherous of lovers.” Betrayal will be released on March 17th, 2013. This is the third novel in the Pendyffryn: The Conquerors 5-book series.

Betrayal returns to Gwennan and the invader who captured her heart. Now only known by the name she gave him, Ieuan Emyr must find a way to survive and keep his wife’s love. Neither will be without complications while his former employer threatens to take all Ieuan has fought to gain for his children.

Only days after her marriage to the invader, once known as Jehan-Emíl deFreveille, his mistress, Charlotte de Guidry, reveals a secret that devastates Gwennan’s confidence in her husband. Her unhappiness threatens her life and those of her friends.

Betrayal will be available on Smashwords and shortly after its publication will join Invasion and Salvation on the iBookstore, All Romance eBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel and Sony.

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Salvation, Book 2: Pendyffryn: The Conquerors

LilyDewaruile_ Salvation200

I’m very proud to say that Salvation is already a top selling book at All Romance ebooks and their affiliated site, OmniLit, in a matter of a few days!

This is the second of my books to be among the top sellers on All Romance ebooks and Omnilit. Traitor’s Daughter has also been a continuing favorite. A revised version is now available at all major online retailers.

Cover Image for Invasion: Book 1, Pendyffryn: The Conquerors

All of my novels set in 9th and 10th century Cymru (Wales) now have additional material and a Glossary of the Welsh words used in the novels. The first book in the Pendyffryn series, Invasion, and the upcoming third book, Betrayal, are about two men who come to Cymru as mercenary invaders whose hearts are conquered by  the women they cannot resist. The fourth and fifth novels, Revival and Reconciliation, will be published later this year.

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An Immigrant’s Journey

Sunset Above Eglwys Dewi Sant

This is a section of my photograph of the sunset I used for the cover of Traitor’s Daughter. This glorious sunset inspires Heledd to have hope for her future.

I, like many, had never heard of Wales. Celtic meant Irish or Scottish. By chance, I visited the town of Rhuthun near Chester and fell in love with the country and eventually the language.

Four years later, I began to write a story set in medieval Wales but within months realized I was ill-informed in every aspect. I made amends by taking a course in the language and further discovery led to an emigration, an eye-opening and a marriage.

During my life in Cymru(Wales), I have written many stories, one relentlessly led to another until I had amassed shelves of manuscripts that demanded I keep faith with the characters I had created out of my love and respect for this country, its language and people.

I have since realized I wrote these stories to help me cope with and understand the difficulties of being an immigrant. Despite my love for my new land, I was not part of it or its culture. Though I had a Welsh husband, Welsh children and was a Welsh speaker, I was, and still am, a foreigner. This is an uncomfortable place for anyone who also feels an abiding love for their native country.

I was tempted, as so many are, to ‘go native’. I was also tempted to demand, as others do, that my new home accommodate me, speak my language, accept my valves, understand my point of view, address my needs.

Tintern Abbey Ruins

This is one of the many photographs I have taken of Abaty Tintern, now a standing ruin and a magical place.

I did none of these. I resolved this cultural conflict with compromise. I could not be the Cymraes (Welshwoman) nor could I be the Alltud (stranger). I embraced my new home and retained my identity. This compromise was made imperative by the nature of Welsh history and the battle for survival raging all around me, to prevent the loss of language, culture and identity of my adopted country.

How could I participate in the destruction of a way of life I had come to love? How could I join the tsunami of cultural devastation that so many other immigrants were causing?

“The sooner the Welsh language is dead and buried, the better.” — English Immigrant, Business owner, Cardiff, 1981

“This country is a cultural desert.” — English Immigrant, Art Gallery Owner, Aberteifi, 2001

Saint Teilo's Church, Pontarddulais, Cymru - inspiration for the chapel in Traitor's Daughter.

Saint Teilo’s Church, Pontarddulais, Cymru – inspiration for the chapel in Traitor’s Daughter.

I chose instead to be among those immigrants who accepted they were in another country, with a culture and language worthy of respect.

“I came to Wales to find work and found another, wonderful life.” — English Immigrant, Botanist, 1990

“You don’t arrive in a country, speaking not a word of its language and expect people to change their language to suit you.” — Canadian Immigrant, Musician, 1985

As an immigrant to Cymru, finding my way into the language and culture, I was conscious that I had a responsibility to represent this country to the best of my ability. But, until the publication of Traitor’s Daughter, I was silent. When I grasped the “I am a writer” nettle, I found my voice and my confidence.

Now with the publication of the first book of my five-part series Pendyffryn: The

Cover Image for Invasion: Book 1, Pendyffryn: The Conquerors

The first story I ever wrote about Cymru (Wales), begun shortly after my first encounter with Wales.

Conquerors, Invasion, which has just been accepted on the iBookstore, as well as Kobo, Sony, All Romance eBooks, Smashwords and Diesel, among others, I feel my writing about Cymru/Wales is beginning to reach readers who have also had the experience of seeking a new home.

And finding a home is the theme of so many of my novels: whether you have moved across town, the country or the world, whether you have sought kindred spirits, love or a sense of belonging, my books have something to share with you.

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda.

–Lily

PS: The above link to Traitor’s Daughter will take you to the latest version. My readers wanted a glossary of the Welsh vocabulary I used in this novel and I’ve provided one, with pronunciation guides. Invasion also has a glossary, with more Welsh words and pronunciation guides.

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