• A London Student

Why Welshmen Should Rule Wales

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

“But in all honesty, I do not find it so peculiar a notion, that a Welshman should rule Wales.”

This is one of my all-time favourite quotes, taken from Falls the Shadow by Sharon Penman. Said in an exchange between Llywelyn the Last and Simon de Montfort, Llywelyn has just set out his terms in which he will help Simon de Montfort and in one of them, he demands that he will be recognised Prince of Wales. Most lords of this time probably would've started choking in laughter at such an absurd request, and one that almost no one else would agree to, but Simon was different, a Champion of the People, and with reason. This quote reflects what should've been in action for centuries, but had only occurred in some circumstances, as English Kings were intent on destroying the Welsh. Although I am getting this from a fictionalised Simon, it would be quite easy to imagine that he is a character who would say something like that or agree to a free Wales, but how long that would've lasted with the death of Henry III is anyone's guess, (it probably would not be long however with Edward).

Even if Wales had survived Edward, what evidence is there that another King wouldn't go and finish off the Conquest? William I, William II, Henry I, Henry II, John, Henry III and Edward I had all been involved in Welsh Wars of some kind. The only two Kings missed out in that line from 1066- 1307 were Stephan who was too busy trying to cling onto his throne during the Anarchy and Richard I who was too busy in A) Trying to hold onto the Angevin Empire (which he did do successfully), B) Hopping off on Crusades, C) Getting locked up by Holy Roman Empire or D) Ignoring Berengaria of Navarre (I had to add that one in). So the point is that English Kings simply could not get their noses out of Wales.

Now, thinking about it, these Kings must have really liked Wales to want it as part of their domains, but we all know that that isn't true, as John did not hesitate to hang those twenty-eight hostages at Nottingham Castle, and the Welsh were seen as inferior people. The other reasons for Wales to be wanted are as follows:

- They wanted an Island Kingdom (but that doesn't explain why they wanted Ireland as well)

- Basic Greed

There weren't too many reasons, as no matter who the King was, they all had certain traits.

I have played enough Crusader Kings to know that you do get greedy, you do want more, and my goal when playing as England has always been to steal as much of France as possible, and take over Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Yet I have played as Wales, where my goal has been to unite Wales, and stay independent. The latter of these two options is significantly harder. Although the Welsh had some of the greatest leaders that Europe has ever seen, what could they do if they only had a meagre amount of land and resources compared to the English Crown (but another thought, imagine what Llywelyn could have achieved as the Holy Roman Emperor... He could have been another Charlemagne, another Henry II...) yet he didn't have the wealth or resources to carry through his dream, of an independent Wales.

We all know that Wales is part of the United Kingdom, but we are never taught why, we are never taught in England that Evil Edward I forced Llywelyn the Last to come to terms by imprisoning his wife, or how Edward I started to impose English Law on Welsh land, and encroach on their territory. As I have said before, I know there is limited time in schools, but sometimes the focus is off what really matters.