Owain Glyndŵr Day

On 16th September Wales marks the anniversary of its national hero being named the Prince of Wales

OWAIN GLYNDWR

This is the fifth in a series of occasional features about Wales to be posted in the months leading up to the first ever Dewithon, or Wales Readathon, which will take place from 1st to 31st March 2019.

Owain Glyndŵr (1359 – c. 1415), a descendant of the Princes of Powys, was proclaimed Prince of Wales on 16th September 1400 after rebelling against English rule. He is a central figure in Welsh history and was the last Welsh-born Prince of Wales.

Sadly, due to lack of artillery, the uprising was eventually suppressed by the superior resources of the English, and Glyndŵr was driven from his last strongholds in 1409. However, he was never captured or betrayed and, following his death, achieved an almost mythical status – on a par with Cadwaladr, King of Gwynedd and King Arthur – he became a legendary hero awaiting the call to return and liberate his people.

On 16th September events take place throughout Wales to honour the man who instigated the Welsh Revolt. From Cowen, the town of his birth, to Ruthin, where the successful uprising against Henry IV of England began, on to Machynlleth, the site of the first Welsh parliament in 1404, people celebrate his life and legacy. On this day, Medieval castles and other historic properties across the land open to the public; festivals take place; and people fly the Welsh flag from their homes.

Do you celebrate Owain Glyndŵr Day? Please share your plans here and on Twitter using the hashtag #OwainGlyndwrDay.

 

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GLYNDŴR IN LITERATURE

Through the centuries, the rebel Prince has featured in many works of literature and is the subject of several historic novels (see the list of fictional titles). For instance, he appeared, if somewhat briefly, as John Ross’s ancestor and a ghost who serves the Lady in Terry Brooks’ ‘The Word and The Void’ trilogy.

If you have read William Shakespeare’s play Henry IV, Part 1, you may recall the character Owen Glendower (this being the anglicised version of Glyndŵr’s name) who claims he can “call spirits from the vasty deep”. He was portrayed here as a wild and unconventional figure, ruled by magic and emotion.

RECOMMENDED READING

Works of Non-Fiction

The following list comprises a mere fraction of the excellent non-fiction titles published on the subject of Owain Glyndŵr:

  • Owen Glendower (1931) by J.E. Lloyd
  • Owain Glyn Dwr: The War of Independence in the Welsh Borders (1995) by Geoffrey Hodge
  • Owain Glyndŵr: A Casebook (2013) edited by Michael Livingston and John K. Bollard
  • The Last Days of Owain Glyndŵr (2017) by Gruffydd Aled Williams
  • The Revolt of Owain Glyndŵr in Medieval English Chronicles (2014) by Alicia Marchant

>> Although it is now out of print, one can still obtain a Kindle version of Charles Parry’s 2012 study, The Last Mab Darogan: The Life and Times of Owain Glyn Dwr. >>

>> Welsh speakers with an interest in the various ways Glyndŵr has been depicted in Welsh-language literature may like to read E. Wyn James’ 2007 Glyndwr a Gobaith y Genedl: Agweddau ar y Portread o Owain Glyndwr yn Llenyddiaeth y Cyfnod Modern (Glyndŵr and the Hope of the Nation: Aspects of the Portrayal of Owain Glyndŵr in the Literature of the Modern Period). >>

Works of Fiction

Owain Glyndŵr has been featured in numerous works of modern fiction (especially in the historic novel and fantasy genres), including:

  • A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury (1972) by Edith Pargeter
  • A Dragon to Agincourt by (2003) by Malcolm Pryce
  • A Dramatic Biography and Other Poems (2008) by Rowland Williams
  • A Night in the Lonesome October (1993) by Roger Zelazny
  • Crown in Candlelight (1978) by Rosemary Hawley Jarman
  • Glendower Country (1973) by Martha Rofheart
  • Owen Glendower (1941) by John Cowper Powys
  • Owain Glyndŵr: Prince of Wales (2003) by Rhiannon Ifans
  • Owain Glyndŵr: The Story of the Last Prince of Wales (2014) by Terry Breverton
  • Silver on the Tree (1977) by Susan Cooper
  • The Dragon Wakes: A Novel of Wales and Owain Glyndwr (2012) by T.I. Adams
  • ‘The Raven Cycle’ (2012–16) by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Uneasy Lies the Crown: A Novel of Owain Glyndwr (2012) by N. Gemini Sasson

Selected Features & Links

Have you read any of the titles named in this post or perhaps other books featuring Owain Glyndŵr? Please do share your discoveries, thoughts and suggestions below.

 

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Categories:Features, Wales Readathon

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21 replies

  1. Absolutely fascinating. Thanks for sharing this. I had quite forgotten Wales has such a rich history.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve only skim read Alex Gibbon’s The Mystery of Jack of Kent & the Fate of Owain Glyndwr (2007) — an intriguing book about Marches folklore and the possible end of Glyndwr but appallingly argued and inadequately referenced. Couldn’t bear to finish it or even keep it, but always intended to read a reliable study so your booklist should be really helpful.

    Oh, and thanks for the link to my Arthuriana page!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! Imagine a movie tie-in with one of those books! A legend, an uprising, a handsome hero…

    Like

  4. That’s so cool! I’ve read Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October and can’t recommend it enough 🙂 October is coming, so it’s a great time for this novel. Owen is a druid there, one of the several players of the great game…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lovely post, Paula. I learned a bunch. I have mentioned this author to you before, I think- Sharon Kay Penland? I’ve read the first in her series about the Welsh princes, but these are prior to Owain. I believe the third in the trilogy is about Llywelyn ap Gruffydd. They are well-written, enthralling, and enchanting. Winds are picking up here, but we are well. 🌺

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post Paula! The only portrait of him I know is the Shakespearean one. Which of the fictional portraits is a good place to start?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Madame B. Oh gosh, now you’re asking… One of the most highly acclaimed is John Cowper Powys’ 1941 novel ‘Owen Glendower’. It isn’t a light read – and it’s one of those Marmite books that people absolutely love or completely dislike (much like the author himself) – but he certainly did his research into the man and the period. It is, at any rate, considered to be a ‘great’ historical novel. However, all the fictional titles I’ve listed are fairly popular. I suppose it depends if you are seeking something relatively factual or you would prefer fantasy. Does that help?

      Liked by 1 person

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