- Cadwallon ap Cadfan
Cadwallon ap Cadfan (died 634A difference in the interpretation of Bede's dates has led to the question of whether Cadwallon was killed in 634 or the year earlier, 633. Cadwallon died in the year after Hatfield Chase, which Bede reports as occurring in October 633; but if Bede's years are believed to have actually started in September, as some historians have argued, then Hatfield Chase would have occurred in 632, and therefore Cadwallon would have died in 633. Other historians have argued against this view of Bede's chronology, however, favoring the dates as he gives them.] ) was the King of Gwynedd from around 625 until his death in battle. The son and successor of
Cadfan ap Iago, he is best remembered as the King of the Britonswho devastated Northumbria, defeating and killing its king, Edwin, prior to his own death in battle against Oswald of Bernicia.
Bede, writing about a century after Cadwallon's death, mentions that Edwin, the most powerful king in Britain, extended his rule to the Isle of Manand Anglesey. [Bede, "H. E.", [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/bede-book2.html Book II] , chapter 9. Bede calls these two islands the Mevanian Islands.] The " Annales Cambriae" says that Cadwallon was besieged at Glannauc (Priestholm, or Puffin Island), a small island off eastern Anglesey, and dates this to 629. [ [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/annalescambriae.html "Annales Cambriae"] , 629.] Surviving Welsh poetry portrays Cadwallon as a heroic leader against Edwin. It refers to a battle at Digoll (Long Mountain) and mentions that Cadwallon spent time in Irelandbefore returning to Britain to defeat Edwin. [D. P. Kirby, "The Earliest English Kings" (1991, 2000), pages 71–72.]
Geoffrey of Monmouth's "History of the Kings of Britain" (which includes a fairly extensive account of Cadwallon's life but is largely legendary—for example, Geoffrey has Cadwallon surviving until after the Battle of the Winwaedin 654 or 655), Cadwallon went to Ireland and then to the island of Guernsey. From there, according to Geoffrey, Cadwallon led an army into Dumnonia, where he encountered and defeated the Mercians besieging Exeter, and forced their king, Penda, into an alliance. Geoffrey also reports that Cadwallon married a half-sister of Penda. [Geoffrey of Monmouth, "The History of the Kings of Britain", Part Eight: "The Saxon Domination."] However, his history is, on this as well as all matters, suspect, and it should be treated with caution.
In any case, Penda and Cadwallon together made war against the Northumbrians. A battle was fought at Hatfield Chase on
October 12, 633which ended in the defeat and death of Edwin and his son Osfrith.Bede, "H. E.", Book II, chapter 20.] After this, the Kingdom of Northumbria fell into disarray, divided between its sub-kingdoms of Deira and Bernicia,Bede, "H. E.", [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/bede-book3.html Book III] , chapter 1.] but the war continued: according to the " Anglo-Saxon Chronicle", "Cadwallon and Penda went and did for the whole land of Northumbria". ["Anglo-Saxon Chronicle", manuscript E, year 633. Translated by Michael Swanton (1996, 1998).] Bede says that Cadwallon was besieged by the new king of Deira, Osric, "in a strong town"; Cadwallon, however, "sallied out on a sudden with all his forces, by surprise, and destroyed him [Osric] and all his army." After this, according to Bede, Cadwallon ruled over the "provinces of the Northumbrians" for a year, "not like a victorious king, but like a rapacious and bloody tyrant." Furthermore, Bede tells us that Cadwallon, "though he bore the name and professed himself a Christian, was so barbarous in his disposition and behaviour, that he neither spared the female sex, nor the innocent age of children, but with savage cruelty put them to tormenting deaths, ravaging all their country for a long time, and resolving to cut off all the race of the English within the borders of Britain."
The new king of Bernicia, Eanfrith, was also killed by Cadwallon when the former went to him in an attempt to negotiate peace. However, Cadwallon was defeated by an army under Eanfrith's brother, Oswald, at the
Battle of Heavenfield, "though he had most numerous forces, which he boasted nothing could withstand". Cadwallon was killed at a place called "Denis's-brook".
Notes and references
Alex Woolf, "Caedualla "Rex Brittonum" and the Passing of the Old North", in "Northern History", Vol. 41, Issue 1, March 2004, pages 5–24. Woolf presents a case that later genealogists have erroneously inserted Bede's Cadwallon into the pedigree of the unrelated Kings of Gwynedd as son of Cadfan. Instead, he suggests that Bede's Cadwallon was the "Catguallaun liu" found in genealogies as son of "Guitcun" and grandson of Sawyl Penuchel.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.