Wales/History

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During the Dark Ages, the Saxons, Angles, Jutes and Frisians were colonising England and forced the Celts back to Kernow, Scotland and Wales. Wales contained several small kingdoms, although there were a few rulers, such as Rhodri the Great, who controlled nearly all of Wales. The separate kingdoms, with the help of the mountainous terrain, managed to hold the Germanic raiders at bay, although Kernow was soon lost.

Norman conquests[edit]

When the Normans invaded England in 1066, a new invasion of Wales was started. They settled mostly in the south of Wales, but their hold was tenuous at best. While the Normans drove out the king of Gwynedd in the north, Welsh resistance was centred in the west. In the 12th century, the situation reversed. The lords of Gwynedd returned from exile in Ireland and drove out the Normans, but the Welsh were fighting a losing battle against Norman power in the south. Soon, the lords of the south were of little importance, while the princes of Gwynedd would become the dominant figures in Welsh politics.

The Welsh ways of warfare were very different from those of the Normans; they used hit-and-run raids to lower morale, attacking supplies and lone troops, relying mostly on their infamous longbows and javelins. There was only one answer to this: building impregnable castles all over Wales to cement Norman power. The Welsh Wars, as they are called, saw Llywelyn II, prince of Gwynedd, pitted against King Edward I.

Wales Eclipsed[edit]

At first, the Welsh were fighting quite successfully against the English, but when Llywelyn II was killed in a skirmish, the Welsh cause collapsed. The remaining Welsh freedom fighters were captured and executed for treason, and the land annexed by 1283. Nevertheless, the Welsh held on to their identity. The English adopted their weapon, the longbow, and for centuries to come the Welsh would find profession mostly in English — later British — armies, while eventually a line of Welsh-born nobles, the Tudors, would be dominant in England during the early 16th century. 

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References[edit]