Ednyfed Fychan


Ednyfed Fychan

Ednyfed Fychan (died 1246), full name Ednyfed Fychan ap Cynwrig, was a Welsh warrior who became seneschal to the Kingdom of Gwynedd in northern Wales, serving Llywelyn the Great and his son Dafydd ap Llywelyn. He was a descendant of Marchudd ap Cynan and the ancestor of Owen Tudor and thereby of the Tudor dynasty. [Bezzant Lowe, Walter (1912). "The Heart of Northern Wales". Llanfairfechan. p354.]

As is usual with medieval orthography, a variety of spellings were used for his name in medieval sources, such as Vychan and Idneved Vachan. [Bezzant Lowe, Walter (1912), pp370-371.] "Fychan" is the origin of the common Welsh personal name Vaughan.

As a warrior

Ednyfed is said to have first come to notice in battle, fighting against the army of Ranulph de Blondeville, 4th Earl of Chester, who attacked Llywelyn at the behest of King John of England. Ednyfed cut off the heads of three English lords in battle and carried them, still bloody, to Llywelyn, who commanded him to change his family coat of arms to display three heads in memory of the feat. [Bezzant Lowe, Walter (1912), p.355.]

As seneschal

In 1215 he succeeded Gwyn ab Ednywain as seneschal ("distain" in Welsh) of Gwynedd, roughly equivalent to Chief Councillor or Prime Minister. His titles included Lord of Bryn Ffanigl, Lord of Criccieth, and Chief Justice. [Bezzant Lowe, Walter (1912), p358.] He was involved in the negotiations leading to the Peace of Worcester in 1218 and represented Llywelyn in a meeting with the king of England in 1232.

Ednyfed had estates at Bryn Ffanigl Isaf near Abergele and at Llandrillo-yn-Rhos, now a suburb of Colwyn Bay. These were the palace of Llys Euryn on the hill of Bryn Euryn, and Rhos Fynach on the sea shore below it. [Bezzant Lowe, Walter (1912), Chapter V11 pp.354ff.] He also held lands in Llansadwrn and presumably also on Anglesey where his son had his seat.

Ednyfed was married twice, first to Tangwystl Goch the daughter of Llywarch ap Brân then to Gwenllian, daughter of the prince Rhys ap Gruffydd of Deheubarth.

Ednyfed probably went on a crusade to the Holy Land around 1235, although the evidence is not conclusive.

Later years and legacy

Gwenllian died in 1236. On Llywelyn the Great's death in 1240, Ednyfed continued as seneschal in the service of Llywelyn's son, Dafydd ap Llywelyn, until his own death in 1246. One of his sons was captured and killed by the English in the war of 1245.

Ednyfed was buried in his own chapel, now Llandrillo Church, which was enlarged to became the parish church after the previous one (Dinerth Parish Church) had been inundated by the sea during Ednyfed's lifetime. His tombstone, with the name rendered as 'Edneved', once lay near the altar of Llandrillo Church, but is now in a vertical position in one of the arches. [Bezzant Lowe, Walter (1912), p363.]

Two other sons were successively seneschals of Gwynedd under Llywelyn the Last. After Llywelyn's death in 1282 the family made its peace with the English crown. Ednyfed's son Goronwy gave rise to the Penmynydd branch of the family in Anglesey, from whom Owen Tudor and later Henry VII were descended.

Ednyfed in

According to folk tradition, Ednyfed is said to have composed a farewell song to Gwenllian before leaving to take part in the Crusades. He was away for several years, and his family thought him dead. According to an old Welsh tale, Gwenllian accepted another offer of marriage. On the wedding night, a 'pitiable beggar' arrived at the house and asked permission to borrow a harp with which to entertain the party with a song. According to this legend the beggar sang Ednyfed's Farewell song and as he reached the last verse, removed his hat, revealing himself to be Ednyfed. He sang:

"A wanderer I, and aweary of strife,
"Get ye gone, if ye so desire;
"But if I may not have my own wife
"I'll have my own bed, my own house, my own fire!"
Ednyfed then announced to the stunned throng:
"This was the tune 'Farewell' to my dear Gwenllian. Hence let her go with her new husband. My faithful harp, come to my arms." [Bezzant Lowe, Walter (1912), p357. The translation from the Welsh is credited to Mrs Watts-Jones of Glyn, Dygwyfylchi. Presumably this folk tale was handed down through the ages; a similar tale exists for the medieval poet Einion ap Gwalchmai. Although it is possible that Ednyfed went on a crusade, the tale itself belongs to the realm of folklore rather than history.]

References

:General reference::*John Edward Lloyd (1911) "A history of Wales from the earliest times to the Edwardian conquest" (Longmans, Green & Co.)


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