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Cadwaladr the Blessed, also known as Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon King of Gwynedd c655-682

Cadwaladr was the son of Cadwallon ap Cadfan who was king of Gwynedd until his death at the battle of Heavenfield in the year 634. Cadwaladr did not immediately succeed his father as one Cadfael ap Cynfeddw seized power in Gwynedd on the death of Cadwallon; it is generally assumed that Cadwaladr was too young to challenge Cadfael's usurpation.

Sometime later around the year 655, Cadwaladr managed to regain the throne, although by what exact method is not known, indeed nothing of substance is really known of his reign. Even the date of his death is uncertain; the Historia Brittonum says 664, whilst Brut y Tywysogion has 682, although they both agree on the cause of death as the plague.(2)

Neither is there any clear indication as to why he was called Fendigaid, the Blessed, although he may have gained a saintly reputation by offering sanctuary to fellow Brythonic noblemen fleeing from the expanding Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the east. (3)

He is remembered as one of the Three Fettered Men of the Island of Britain and more particularly as the "last king of the Britons", (that is the last native Romano-British or Brythonic king to hold any kind of sway over the island of Britain) and was significantly one of the two Welsh kings named in the tenth century prophetic verse Armes Prydein Vawr.

Cadwaladr also has the distinction of being the subject of very first entry in the Brut y Tywysogion, the Welsh Chronicle of the Princes;

In that year Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon, the last king that ruled over the Britons, went to Rome and there he died. . .and thenceforth the Britons lost the crown of the kingship, and the Saxons obtained it, as Myrddyn had prophesied to Gwrtheyrn Wrthenau.
His body was supposedly returned to Wales and buried in his church of Llangadwaladr on Ynys Mon (that is Anglesey).


NOTES

(1) Cadwaladr the name meaning literally "Battle Chief"

(2) I have gone for 682, if only because his son Idwal Iwrch was born around the year 664, and can hardly have succeeded him if Cadwaladr had died the same year.

(3) Indeed for some reason he appears to be the patron saint of the contemporary Orthodox mission in Wales.


SOURCES

A Biographical Dictionary of Dark Age Britain by Ann Williams, Alfred P. Smyth and D. P. Kirby (Seaby 1991)

A History of Wales by John Davies (Allen Lane 1993)

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