Ydw, dwi’n siarad cymraeg (Yes, I do speak Welsh), or why I do what I do

Having been asked to write the final blog post for the 2018-2019 academic year, I thought I might offer a personal reflection on my own journey as an academic and medievalist, which may, at least in some small way, be indicative of many of the journeys of my friends and colleagues. At a time when the study of the arts and humanities continues to suffer—much to the detriment of democracy at large and despite the fact that these fields enrich our lives and culture—we who work in these areas often find ourselves asking ourselves—and defending to others—why we do what we do. This becomes even more keen when you study older as well as minority languages—and if you’re a medievalist, even though everyone loves the Middle Ages.

Instagram: @drgrayfang / Via Facebook: asoiafmemes

Indeed, it’s been an eventful month for medievalists and for medieval-inspired genres in general. Between Game of Thrones and its issues with portraying women and people of color, the rampant racism medievalists in general are trying to combat, and the usual rush of writing papers for the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo, there’s a lot to discuss. As a professor, a researcher, a fandom nerd, a mother, and a procrastinator, I find a lot of this problematic. While I don’t have any solutions, I can at least offer my thoughts on the importance of primary research, especially primary research in its original language, and why being multilingual is important for all of us.

The Grey King by Susan Cooper.

When I was a child, I had two goals: travel to all seven continents and learn exactly why “Y maent yr mynyddoedd y canu, ac y mae’r argwyddes yn dod” meant ‘the mountains are singing, and the lady comes’ in Welsh. Fast forward a few decades, and I’ve achieved five out of seven continents, and I know enough Welsh to recognize that the grammar of “Y maent yr mynyddoedd…” is a little wonky. I’m willing to cut Susan Cooper a little slack, though, because she was the one, through her YA novel The Grey King, that set me on my weird Welsh journey anyway. I was that strange child that wanted to read the Bible in its original Hebrew and Greek form because I knew that it would be the “truest” version (the benefit of being a scholar, I get how problematic that goal is now.) I wanted to speak all the languages and understand all the stories—and I still do!

 

I grew up in a very white, very middle-class suburb of Los Angeles, where diversity was just a couple of towns over—not that we went there because, you know, traffic and crime rates. Because of this desire to understand beyond my knowledge, as well as the limitations of my own perspective, I show Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story” TED talk every semester, without fail, no matter what class I’m teaching. I’ve shown it to high school freshmen for Study Skills and upper division college students in a King Arthur class. I’ve seen the video so many times that I can recite parts of it, and it still grabs me every single time.

College was what broke my belief in a single story. A trip to France in high school cemented my hardcore drive to travel EVERYWHERE and see ALL THE THINGS, but college actually pushed me out of the nest and forced me to look multiple perspectives in the face. It dropped a pile of primary sources into my lap and told me to read and digest all of them. While my undergraduate experience didn’t teach me Welsh, it at least pushed me toward the possibility of the Middle Ages, an all-encompassing knowledge of King Arthur, and the idea that I could learn the highly accurate history of it all.

(Oh, my sweet summer child.)

Twenty years later, I am a medievalist with a specialization in the King Arthur of the medieval British Isles and France. I learned Welsh—in Wales no less—to push my ability to analyze primary texts. I used more dead languages than English in my dissertation but still call myself an English major (funny how literature departments are still organized around nation-states). I now teach writing and medieval literature at every college in Buffalo, NY (fine, only three of them, or maybe four…).

National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, taken by Kara Larson Maloney.

I have a six-year-old who can already recite the names of Arthur’s knights as well as tell you what her favorite castle is. She voraciously devours folklore from around the world and prefers Ancient Egypt and stories of Anansi to what mama studies. Her princesses and princes come from India and China and Japan, rather than just the standard Disney European variety. And she’s conquered four out of seven continents. I’m not sure which language(s) she’ll choose when she gets older, but she takes great delight in telling people that gwely means ‘bed’ in Welsh—the apex of my attempt at raising her bilingual and studying Welsh in Wales while pregnant with her. She’s grown up with parchment and chainmail, and she loves swinging around the cloth-and-wood flail she got from a castle in France two years ago. She knows that there is more than one story, and she sees many of those stories every day in her very public, very urban elementary school.

So, why Welsh? Why did a minority language in an English-colonized country become my passion? As a medievalist and Arthurian scholar, it makes sense. Arthur was Welsh. Full stop. Even if I’m not sure I believe he ever existed—since we have little-to-no extant irrefutable historical evidence—I still believe his origins come from Wales, be those the literary origins of the Trioedd Ynys Prydein (Welsh Triads), the “Mabinogion,” or Y Gododdin. If I study Arthurian literature and how the concept of chivalry changed across the English Channel between the ninth and sixteenth centuries, I should know Middle Welsh, as well as Latin, Old French, Anglo-Norman, and Middle English for good measure. Plus, it’s as good an excuse as any to realize that childhood dream of being able to translate a Welsh spell from a kids’ fantasy novel.

Roman Amphitheatre, Caerleon, possible seat of one of King Arthur’s courts. Photo by Kara Larson Maloney.

Why Welsh? Because there’s a dedicated movement within Wales right now working on reclaiming the heritage that the English took from them, linguistically and culturally. Because there’s a rising demand for Welsh-language schools in Wales, and the number of speakers is actually growing. But also because the ability to read the Triads and other sources of archaic knowledge in their original form ensures that this information will be remembered and kept alive. And because, as the ever-eager scholar, I am always in search of that irrefutable truth for which I longed in my childhood, the Ur-text that explains why the idea of King Arthur still persists in popularity, even when sometimes partnered with giant robots from outer space in modern sci-fi fantasy.

As a medievalist, I know how fragile our material history is. Look at how many erupted into tears as Notre Dame burned last month. Think of how often we wonder about what we lost when the library at Alexandria was demolished or when the Cotton Library burned in the fire of 1731. Think of the destruction of the monasteries under Henry VIII or even of what codices were lost when the Vikings raided again and again in the eighth and ninth centuries. And this still happens—think of the attack on the shrines of Timbuktu in 2012.

The physicality of history is not immortal. While we find new primary sources and discover magical new insights into the past every year with our leaps forward in technology, we still lose so much. Remember when ISIS destroyed the statues at the gates of Nimrud, or when they demolished the Temple of Baalshamin and the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, or, even earlier, when the Taliban blew up the statues of Buddha. Think of every mosque and synagogue that Christians have irrevocably altered in the past thousand years, not the least of which being the Mezquita in Córdoba or the synagogues of Toledo. Our physical artifacts are all we have to help us understand who we were and why things—socially, politically, economically, etc.—are the way they are. Our primary sources, in their original languages, can help us ensure we understand as much as possible about the past, which is the only way we can understand our present moment. Serious study and serious inquiry into the past can help prevent the co-opting of cultural narratives for nefarious purposes, the way white supremacists and the alt-right have pushed for an all-white medieval Europe and erasure of people of color. Why Welsh? Because every language and every culture have something to teach us. Because diversity—in people, in languages, in nature—makes the world richer. Also because I’m obviously a nerd. Why the desire to visit all seven continents? So that I can experience, firsthand, the different stories that each culture, each region, each country presents. So that I can prevent my daughter and my students from recognizing only one story.

Bayeux Cathedral, photo by Kara Larson Maloney.

Every year for the past three years, I’ve gone into my daughter’s classroom and talked to her classmates about heroes, knights, the evolution of writing, and mummies (because mummies). I’ve given them pieces of parchment to create their own illuminations. I’ve handed them chainmail, leather helms and bracers, and answered how King Arthur died (“It’s complicated…”). It’s not just public scholarship (of which we need more!); it’s also ensuring that these stories, and that consciousness of the materiality of history, are passed on.

Lady Stormborn, Smallest Viking, photo by Kara Larson Maloney.

Because when I was eleven years old, a friend gave me the Dark is Rising sequence for my birthday, and those books inspired a lifelong love of the Middle Ages and some Welsh warlord named Arthur. Because knowing the political complexities of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s era and being able to read what was said about him in Latin and in Welsh better informs me of why he may have spun Arthur in the imperial/anti-imperial way that he did. Because all we have are fragments to help us understand past cultures, and when we preserve what we have for future generations, we preserve the very diverse voices that white supremacy is trying to kill. This is why I do what I do.

Kara Larson Maloney, Ph.D.
Canisius College

‘The Helen of Wales’: Nest Ferch Rhys ap Tewdwr, a Shaper of History (Part 2)

First, be sure to catch up on Part 1 of Nest's story here...

Owain broke through to the sleeping area and took Nest and her children, burning the castle as he left.[23] Gerald of Wales tells us, however, that Owain raped Nest and then returned home, making no mention of Owain taking Nest with him, so there are somewhat conflicting accounts.[24] As told in the Brut y Tywysogion, though, Owain’s father Cadwgan urged Owain to return Nest to her husband, but he refused. Nest then pleaded with Owain on behalf of her children, saying: ‘If thou will have me faithful to thee, and remain with thee, send my children to their father’.[25]

It is generally considered that Owain did abduct Nest. But whether she was party to the attack as suggested by Lloyd, who states that the whole affair was a tale of passion and intrigue, or she was an unwilling victim cannot be substantiated.[26] That this was an act of rebellion against Norman incursions is a more feasible argument.

Although stories abound as to where Nest and Owain went after her abduction, no reliable evidence exists to confirm them. Susan M. Johns relies on Henry Morton’s 1932 volume In Search of Wales, which suggests that they ‘ran to Powys’ and stayed at a hunting lodge called Plas Uchaf in Eglwyseg.[27] Gwen Meredith suggests that Nest stayed with Owain for three years and that they had two sons, Llewellyn and Einion.[28] However, I would suggest that Nest was quickly returned to Gerald, possibly at the same time as her children. King Henry was rightly furious and was quick to act; taking the king’s mistress was one thing, kidnapping his son quite another. Henry brought the wrath of God down on Wales in his search for Owain by sending his man Richard de Belamais, the Bishop of London, to track Owain down. Owain escaped to Ireland, but while on the run, it would make sense that he would not have wished to be encumbered with Nest.

Nevertheless, Nest’s abduction set Wales ablaze, Normans against Welsh and Welsh against their own in a civil war. On behalf of Henry, Bishop Richard offered Owain’s cousins Ithel and Madog ab Rhiryd vast tracts of land to turn over Owain. These two invaded Ceredigion, scattering the inhabitants to any place of safety they could find and brutalising the population as they went, but they never did find Owain. It appears that later Madog changed his allegiance. Once Owain had returned from Ireland, he and Madog burned Meirionydd, killing many and slaughtering their cattle. Owain continued to be a thorn in Henry’s side and continued to avoid capture. He returned to Ceredigion, once again on the rampage, killing and terrorising as he went. In 1111, Madog ap Rhiryd killed Owain’s father, why we do not know. Owain sought revenge and caught up with Madog and blinded him.[29]

After years of constant revolt against King Henry, Owain was finally forgiven by the king and knighted in 1114.[30] A curious act by Henry, did he believe Owain could be useful to him? Owain’s meteoric rise in Henry’s favour is intriguing, especially given the statement in the Brut y Tywysogion saying that Gerald was ‘Henry’s particular friend’.[31] At this point, we may consider the vague possibility that Nest was again with Owain and was returned as a part of the bargain.[32]

In 1113, Gruffydd ap Rhys, Nest’s brother, returned from exile in Ireland determined to retake his father’s kingdom. Records show he stayed from time to time with Nest and Gerald at Pembroke Castle.[33] Young Welshmen flocked to Gruffydd’s cause as he left a trail of destruction throughout the South.[34] Henry, angered at Gruffydd’s actions, ordered Owain and Gerald to find him. Nest’s feelings regarding Gruffydd’s actions are unknown. However, that Henry would use Owain and Gerald to bring Gruffydd to heel must have felt like the ultimate betrayal.

While looking for Gruffydd, Gerald marched with his army to the forests of Ystrad-Tywi. There, Gerald came across settlers that complained to him of the brutal treatment received at the hands of Owain. Gerald decided the time was ripe to take his revenge against Owain. Believing that Gerald had come to assist in bringing down Gruffydd, Owain was instead attacked by Gerald’s forces with a volley of arrows.[35] Owain died from an arrow to his heart, which, given his passion for Nest, seems quite fated.

No mention is made in the chronicle evidence of what happened to Gerald at this point. Had he died alongside Owain, it would have been recorded along with Owain’s death. Was Gerald injured in the skirmish and died later from his wounds? History does not tell us. Plausible is the idea that Henry’s actions towards Owain were considered by Gerald a betrayal. It could also be that Gerald was tired of sharing his wife with so many men, the king included, and took his frustration out on Owain and left court.[36] His options would have been few if he wished to keep his family safe and secure. It is possible that he took up the cross and travelled to the Holy Land, but we simply do not know.

D. Walker tells us that Gerald died in 1136.[37] However, William Hait became the constable of Pembroke in 1130,[38] which suggests that Gerald was not in residence at the time. This strengthens the argument that Gerald had either fled, died, or was suffering a prolonged illness that took him out of the record books.

Of Nest’s potentially fourteen children, history does not give reliable dates of their births or their deaths. That she had four children by Gerald is documented by various sources; that she had ten further children is less easy to confirm. She bore Hait, the Constable of Pembroke, a son, William Lord of St. Clears. She also had a son, Robert Fitz Stephen, by Stephen, the Constable of Cardigan, whom she had married after Gerald’s death. While their birth dates may not be reliably documented, they feature prominently in history. There were four further children by fathers unknown, plus the possibility that Nest also had two sons by Owain.

It would be easy to label Nest as promiscuous, given the number of children she had by various men, but the fact that we have no firm evidence of the dates they were born does allow for us to be a little more lenient towards her. I have often considered her unfairly treated in the scholarship. She was forced into situations that were beyond her control, as was the case for many women in the Middle Ages, and that she used the beauty and charms she possessed to make a comfortable and safe life for herself and her children would have been very reasonable, given her circumstances. We must also consider that it would have been prudent for the king to see his mistress married successively to two Norman lords (Gerald and then Stephen), thus keeping her and her children under his influence. Being a daughter of the King of Deheubarth made her a target for those who would use her as leverage against the Normans.

We have no reliable evidence for the date of her death, nor do we know where she is buried. What we do know is that she left a legacy that has survived through time by means of her children and grandchildren. If Nest herself is not remembered well by the historians, her children by the various men in her life have been. They were born with a mixture of both Welsh and Norman blood in their veins and went on to lay the foundations for some of the major houses in both Wales and Ireland. Nest and Gerald’s daughter Angharad married William Fitz Odo de Barry, and their son, Gerald de Barry, is better known to us as the prolific writer and priest Gerald of Wales. Robert Fitz Stephen and his half-brother, Maurice Fitz Gerald, ensured a long line of Fitz Geralds in Ireland by successfully gaining vast tracts of land through either battle or reward. They built castles and established a lasting Fitz Gerald dynasty, which includes the 35th President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Patricia Taylor, M.A.
University of Wales Trinity Saint David

 

Footnotes

[23] Annales Cambriae, p.76.

[24] Giraldus Cambrensis, Expugnatio Hibernica: The Conquest of Ireland, edited and translated by A. B. Scott and F. X. Martin (Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1978), pp.229-30.

[25] Brut y Tywysogion, p.87.

[26] Lloyd, History of Wales, Volume ii, p.417-48.

[27] Johns, Gender, Nation and Conquest in the High Middle Ages, pp.196-198. Henry Morton was a travel writer who took pleasure in portraying Wales as a place of romance and legends to entertain his readers. However, there is an Elizabethan manor house in Eglwyseg known as Plas Uchaf built on the foundations of a hunting lodge which once belonged to the princes of Powys. An inscription can be seen over the door telling how the lodge was inherited by the princes of Powys in 1073.

[28] G. Meredith, ‘Henry I’s Concubines’, Essays in Medieval Studies 19 (2002): p.17. Available: http://muse.jhu.edu/article/39657. Access provided by University of Wales Trinity Saint David. <accessed 4th July 2016>.

[29] Annales Cambriae, p.76.

[30] Brut y Tywysogion, p.119.

[31] Brut y Tywysogion, p.87.

[32] P. A. Taylor, Nest Ferch Rhys ap Tewdwr, p.33.

[33] Lloyd, History of Wales, Volume ii, p.433.

[34] Brut y Tywysogion, p.123.

[35] Rev. W. Warrington, The History of Wales in Nine Books, vol.1, Bk. V (Brecon: Williams, 1823), p.432.

[36] Johns, Gender, Nation and Conquest in the High Middle Ages, p.22.

[37] D. Walker, ‘Gerald of Windsor (d. 1116×36)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004) [online]. Available: http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/45551. <accessed 23rd November 2016>.

[38] Lloyd, History of Wales, Volume ii, p.424.

‘The Helen of Wales’: Nest Ferch Rhys ap Tewdwr, a Shaper of History (Part 1)

Nest (b.c.1085) was the daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, King of Deheubarth, and the lover of the future King of England. She had three further lovers, two husbands, and potentially fourteen children. Her beauty allegedly inspired such a passion in the men in her life that it sparked a scandal that rocked the world of medieval Wales to its foundations.

Nest was born into a troubled and often violent time, less than twenty years after the invasion by William the Conqueror and the coming of the Normans. Nest’s father died at the Battle of Brecon (1093). Left to the mercies of her Norman captors, she was possibly given to a family in the pay of King William Rufus.[1] Windsor Castle was a Royal Court Castle and a favourite haunt of Prince Henry.[2] Her later affair with Henry, the king’s brother, and her subsequent marriage to Gerald of Windsor, the son of Walter Fitz Otho, the castellan of Windsor Castle, suggest Windsor as her destination.[3]

Nest was a Welsh princess and therefore highly regarded by the Welsh people. She would thus have been a very valuable asset to the English crown, which adds fuel to the argument that she would have been taken out of Wales as quickly as possible. That being said, no attempt to rescue or to barter for her has survived in the historical record.

Some have thought Nest to be promiscuous, and indeed, historian Timothy Venning portrays her as a woman of great beauty and little virtue.[4]  However, Nest was a woman of her times. With her father dead, her mother having disappeared from all reliable records, and her brothers either incarcerated or having fled to Ireland, she was thrown alone into a Norman world after the battle for Brycheiniog. That she used her beauty to charm her captors would not be unexpected; it would have been her only weapon to ensure her own comfort. Being taken to Windsor Castle would have given her ample opportunity to meet Prince Henry, a man known for his many love affairs and numerous illegitimate children.[5] Nest would have been aware that being the mistress of such a figure could have its advantages, and Henry was known to be good to his mistresses and did not refuse to recognize his bastards. An affair with Henry could offer Nest a certain security. Her life in Wales was gone, and making the kind of marriage that would once have been available to her was also gone.

With the death of William Rufus in 1100, his brother became King Henry I. During this time, the Norman lord, Gerald of Windsor, was a rising star in King Henry’s court. Being no doubt aware of the benefits of marrying a mistress of a king, Gerald did so, wedding Nest with Henry’s permission and support. Gerald had already been installed as steward of Pembroke Castle by Arnulf de Montgomery, a man who took up arms against Henry in 1102 and lost all his lands for his pains. Eventually, Henry made Gerald constable of Pembroke Castle, which brought Nest back into Wales once again.

Figure 1. Pembroke Castle. Arnulf de Montgomery first established an earth and timber castle with a small inner bailey c.1093, which may later have been built of stone. The castle as we now know it was re-built by William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, c.1189-1220. Photographed by Patricia Taylor.

After his marriage to Nest, Gerald went on to build castles at Cenarth Bychan (Cilgerran) and Carew, a particularly important site in the history of the kings of Deheubarth.

Figure 2. Carew Castle as it is today. Photographed by Patricia Taylor.
Figure 3. Carew Castle was gradually built in the 13th and 14th centuries by Sir Nicholas Carew. In Nest’s day, the castle would have been one of earth and timber, and the only stone structure attributed to Gerald of Windsor can be seen here between the square tower and the polygonal tower. Photographed by Patricia Taylor.
Figure 4. The rear of Carew Castle viewed from the tidal Carew River. Photographed by Patricia Taylor.

The date of Nest’s marriage to Gerald is open to conjecture; although, it has been suggested that she married in 1100, as proffered by John Edward Lloyd.[6] However, Gwenn Meredith suggests Nest’s first child, William fitz Gerald, was born in 1096, indicating that they were married earlier than 1100.[7] That she had one child (Henry fitz Henry, c.1105 to 1114) by King Henry I is documented; that she was the mother of Robert of Gloucester is still open for debate.[8]

Nest’s marriage to Gerald seems on the surface to have been a success. The Brut y Tywysogion, a Welsh chronicle that picks up where Geoffrey of Monmouth left off, tells us that she and Gerald had at least one son and a daughter in the nursery, along with King Henry’s son, Henry, and another son by a concubine of Gerald’s.[9] She was the wife of a now powerful lord who held Pembroke Castle, Carew Castle, and Cenarth Bychan Castle. By 1109, however, life for Nest would take a very dramatic turn with repercussions for all of Wales.

Figure 5. The Celtic cross at Carew Castle reads ‘Margiteut Rex Etg(uin) Filius’, meaning King Maredudd, son of Edwin. Maredudd ap Edwin ruled jointly with his brother Hywel but died c.1035. Photographed by Patricia Taylor.
Figure 6. Plaque situated at the base of the Celtic cross. Photographed by Patricia Taylor.

Although there was a heavy Norman influence in South Wales, many areas were still ruled as fiercely independent kingdoms warring constantly with each other. The Welsh system of partible inheritance aggravated this situation.[10] Owain ap Cadwgan, a cousin of Nest’s, was the son of Cadwgan ap Bleddyn, King of Powys. Owain’s history and that of Powys in general, as we shall see, reinforces the image of warring kingdoms and indiscriminate slaughter, which left Powys a somewhat ineffectual kingdom.[11] Cadwgan ap Bleddyn held a great feast on his lands in Ceredigion during Christmas 1109.[12] These feasts were not just Christmas celebrations, but an opportunity for princes such as Cadwgan to gauge the loyalty of their barons. Often these gatherings were used to rally support for war and were known hotbeds for political machinations and posturing.[13]

Where Gerald and Nest were at the time of Cadwgan’s feast has long been a point of discussion. R. R. Davies maintains that they and their children were at Cenarth Bychan in Ceredigion.[14]

Figure 7. Cenarth Bychan (Cilgerran) as it is today.[15] Gerald of Windsor’s castle would have been a ‘ringwork castle’ of earth and wood.[16] The present castle is considered to have been built by William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke in c.1223. Photographed by Patricia Taylor.
Owain had heard of Nest’s beauty and was determined to see her. Knowing that she was close by, he took some of his men and paid her a courtesy call. He was so overwhelmed with her beauty, it is said, that he became fired with lust for her and was so determined to have her by any means available to him that he took his men back to his father’s feast and devised a plan to capture her.[17] The Brut y Tywysogion states that Owain was ‘instigated by the devil’.[18]

Owain and his men returned at night and dug under the castle’s foundations, scaled walls and ditches, and set buildings alight.[19] Nest, realising that Gerald would be killed if he retaliated, persuaded him not to leave the bedchamber, but to go with her to the garderobe, saying: ‘go not out the door, for there thy enemies wait for thee, but come, follow me’.[20] Once there, they pulled up the floor, and she helped him to escape down the midden chute.[21] With Gerald safely out of the way, she called out to the attackers that Gerald had gone, saying: ‘Why call out in vain? He is not here, whom you seek; surely he has escaped’.[22]

Stay tuned next week to find out what happens to Nest and her lovers...

Patricia Taylor, M.A.
University of Wales Trinity Saint David

 

Primary Sources

Annales Cambriae: A Translation of Harleian 3859: PRO E.164/1: Cottonian Domitian, A1: Exeter Cathedral Library MS. 3514 and MS Exchequer DB Neath, PRO E.164/1, translated by Paul Martin Remfry (United Kingdom: Castle Studies Research and Publishing, 2007).

Brut y Tywysogion; or, The Chronicle of the Princes, edited by Rev. John Williams ab Ithel, M.A. (London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1860).

Giraldus Cambrensis, Expugnatio Hibernica: The Conquest of Ireland, edited and translated by A. B. Scott and F. X. Martin (Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1978).

Footnotes

[1] When a woman was widowed and left with young children and their father was of noble birth, or had Crown lands, then the ‘wardship of the heir or heiress became a Royal reward.’ The children would be given to another house to be raised under their guardianship. This guardianship could be given to a royal servant. These children would live with their guardian as a part of their household, and their lands and assets would be administered by their guardians. Anne Crawford, ed., Letters of Medieval Women (Stroud: Sutton Publishers Ltd., 2002), p.108.

[2] Royal Collection Trust. press@royalcollection.org.

[3] Davies suggests that Gerald chose his wife so that “he [might] sink his roots and those of his family more deeply in those parts.’ It was not uncommon for Norman Marcher Lords to marry into the Welsh nobility in order to build their holdings within Wales. R. R. Davies, Conquest, Coexistence, and Change: Wales 1063-1415 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), p.106. P. A. Taylor, Nest Ferch Rhys ap Tewdwr, as final fulfillment for the degree of Master of Arts, Celtic Studies (Lampeter: University of Wales Trinity Saint David, 2017), p.23.

[4] T. Venning, The Kings and Queens of Wales (Stroud: Amberley Publishing, 2015), p.123.

[5] Chris Given-Wilson and Alice Curteis, The Royal Bastards of Medieval England (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984), pp.60-73.

[6] John Edward Lloyd, History of Wales, Volume ii (London: Longman Green and Company, 1911), p.417.

[7] S. M. Johns, Gender, Nation and Conquest in the High Middle Ages: Nest of Deheubarth (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), p.10.

[8] Lloyd, History of Wales, Volume ii, p.499.Yorke states that Nest was ‘the beautiful mistress of Henry who brought him his eminent son Robert of Gloucester.’ P. Yorke, Esq. of Erthig (1799) and D. Williams (2016), The Royal Tribes of Wales (Hardpress Publishing, 2013), p.33. D. Crouch, ‘Nest (born before 1092, died c.1130)’, ‘Robert of Gloucester’s Mother and Sexual Politics in Norman Oxfordshire’, Historical Research vol.72. no.179 (October 1999): pp.323-333. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography  (2004) [online]. Available: http://www/oxforddnb.com/view/article/19905. <accessed 10th September 2016>. [site no longer working]

[9] Brut y Tywysogion; or, The Chronicle of the Princes, edited by Rev. John Williams ab Ithel, M.A. (London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1860), p.85.

[10] Lynn H. Nelson, The Normans in South Wales 1070-1171 (Austin: The University of Texas Press, 1966), p.110. Partible inheritance is the system where all the sons of the deceased, and in some cases, the daughters, would receive a share of the estate. This system differs from primogeniture where only the eldest son is entitled to inherit. See the entry for ‘primogeniture’: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/primogeniture. <accessed 14th October 2016>.

[11] D. Walker, Medieval Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p.38.

[12] The Brut y Tywysogion states that the event took place at Christmas 1106 (p.83). Scholars such as Lloyd (History of Wales, Volume ii, p.417) and Davies (Conquest, Coexistence, and Change, p.86) offer 1109. The Annales Cambriae state that in 1109 Owain burned Cenarth Bychan and was expelled to Ireland and makes no mention at all of Nest. Annales Cambriae: A Translation of Harleian 3859: PRO E.164/1: Cottonian Domitian, A1: Exeter Cathedral Library MS. 3514 and MS Exchequer DB Neath, PRO E.164/1, translated by Paul Martin Remfry (United Kingdom: Castle Studies Research and Publishing, 2007), p.76. Lloyd, History of Wales, Volume ii, p.418.

[13] T. M. Charles-Edwards, Morfydd E. Owens, and Paul Russell, eds., The Welsh King and His Court (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2000), p.343.

[14] Davies, Conquest, Coexistence, and Change, p.86.

[15] Cenarth Bychan Castle is now known as Cilgerran Castle.

[16]  Ringwork castles are similar to motte-and-bailey castles but are encircled by lower earth walls and a ditch to enclose them which would be finished with a timber palisade. See Marvin Hull, ‘Ringwork Castles’ [online]. Available: https://www.castles-of-britain.com/ringworkcastles.htm.1995-2011. <accessed 2nd July 2018>. [site now defunct.]

[17] Brut y Tywysogion, p.105.

[18] ibid., p.105.

[19] Lloyd, History of Wales, Volume ii, p.418.

[20] ibid., p.85.

[21] P. A. Taylor, Nest Ferch Rhys ap Tewdwr, p.30. Pembroke Castle and Carew Castle both hold claim to the abduction of Nest in their tourist guides. Research considers these claims as highly unlikely.

[22] Brut y Tywysogion, p.85.