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Genealogy Places of Interest

The Earliest Kings


  Is thought to have lived from about 404 to 447, and have ruled after Vortigan from 430. He was known as Cadeyern Fendigaid - "Battle Prince". There is no record of his wife, not unusual in those days, but he did have two sons Cadell and Rhyddfedd born about 430 and 435 respectfully. St. Germanus made his first British visit in 429 where he met and blessed Cadeyern, who then became known as Cadeyern the Blessed.
Nennius tells how Vortigern appeased the Saxons, allowing them in. Cadeyern and brother Vortimer rebelled and fought the Saxons at the battle of Rithergabail in Kent in 447 where Cadeyern was killed, along with the Saxon leader Horsa.’.


    Cadell c430 – known as Ddyrnllwg meaning Gleaming Hilt (hilt probably meaning sword or lance) and Rhyddfedd c435 – known as Frych or ‘the Freckled’ were the two sons of Cadeyrn. Cadell had eight sons and two daughters, Rhyddfedd having just one daughter, Gwynfyr c472 from whom no further descendants exist.

Cadell was driven out of his kingdom by the Irish and the Saxons, when he hid among the peasants of Powys and became a servant of the Irish chieftain Benlli, hoping to retrieve his kingdom. When St. Germanus of Auxerre visited Britain in 447 he heard of the pagan Irish stronghold and laid siege to the Powyscapital. Cadell showed him what hospitality he could. Germanus is said to have had a premonition and advise Cadell to remove all his men from the capital. That evening the Wroxeter Royal Palace was struck by lightening, causing a fire that destroyed all, and restoing Cadell to his throne.
Cadell married Gwelfyl, one of the many daughters of King Brychan of Brycheiniog, also the grandfather of St. Beuno, who was raised in Powys.


   Described as Glodrydd – ‘the Renowned’- he was the eldest of Cadell’s sons, c470, and he married Tanglwst of about the same age. They had a daughter Sannan c498 who later married Maelgwn c480 to549 or Hir – ‘the Tall’ – King of Gwynedd, and six recorded sons, one of whom was Brochfael or Brochwel. Cyngan was later raised to Sainthood.


  Pasgen ap Cyngen ruled in the early 500's but all that is known of him is that he had a son Morgan about 520.


   Pasgen's son Morgan appears not to have ruled Powys which passed to Brochfael, grandson of Cyngen above. This son Brochwel Ysgythrog who was born c502 has been written about much more and is therefore usually referred to as the family founder. Brochwel, whose descriptive name "Ysgythrog" is said to describe his prominent teeth, married Arddun Penasgell (Wing Headed), the daughter of Pabo Post Prydain and their sons were St. Tysilio, founder of the church at Meifod; Cadell ap Brochwel, King of Powys; Cynan Garwyn, Lord of Guilsfield, Broniarth and Deuddwr; and Matthew Hen, Lord of Arwystli and Cyveiliog. In the early years of Brochfael’s reign the famous Taliesin was his bard. Brochfeal died around 560 and was buried at Pentrefoelas in Gwynedd.

   Brochwel's family make an interesting deviation at this point. His second St Tysilio, almost certainly being the forerunner of the place name Llantysilio, ran from his fathers court to become a Monk at Meifod. He later spent seven years on Mon (Anglesey) before returning to Meifod as Abbot. On the death of his brother Cynan in 613 his Sister-in-Law Queen Gwenwynwyn wanted to marry him, but he refused and fled across the Channel to St.Suliac where he founded a monastery. He was made 3rd Bishop of St.Asaph but died at St.Suliac in 640.

   Mathew Hen was related to Coel Hen (Old King Cole), who as Duke of Kaelcolim (Colchester), rebelled against King Asclepiodotus, and having killed him in battle, took the throne himself. He reigned from 691 to 695. A Senator Constantius was sent from Rome, to whom Coel submitted on condition he could keep his kingdom, which was agreed. A month after the agreement he bacame ill and died 8 days later. Hen is Welsh/Celtic for ‘old’. Constantius married Coel’s daughter Helen and himself seized the throne. They had a son Constantine, (of eventual fame for fairness and justice), who later captured Rome and was proclaimed ‘Overlord of the World’ with three of Helen’s uncles as Senators. While away Octavius took the British throne.

   The arms of Brochwel were "Sable, three nags' heads, erased argent" and represented the Saxon white horses, with their heads severed, and symbolised his victory over the Saxons at Chester in 564 A.D.

   Philip Yorke in his book of 1799 says :-  "Why Jestin ap Gwrgant, a petty Lord of Glamorgan, and a character in everlasting disgrace should be thus dignified (by being included in the five royal tribes) while he was the founder only of ignominy and loss of dominion to himself and of slaughter and slavery to his country, is very difficult to adjust; and that Brochwel Ysgythrog, a Prince of Powys in its highest splendour, having Shrewsbury (Pengwern) for his capital and a chief of great power and martial character, should have his name omitted even in the Fifteen (common) Tribes, is alike inscrutable."

   It was under the protection of Brochwel Ysgythrog that the hierarchy of the British Church assembled in conference to give an answer to Augustin, an emissary from Rome. Held at Auscliffe on the Severn (at that time called the river Hafren by the Welsh). by appointment of the Archbishop of St. David’s, its members were Dunawd, Abbot of Bangor (brother-in-law of Brochwel) and the Bishops of Hereford, Worcester, Bangor, St. Asaph, Llandaff, Llanbadarn and Margam.  Their reply was "We know of  no obedience that he whom you call the Pope, or Bishop of Bishops, can command, claim or demand; the Bishop of Caerleon (St. David’s) is alone, under God, our ruler to guide us right in the way of Salvation.

   The Venerable Bede says in his "Ecclesiastical History" - "The British Bishops told Augustin they would not do one of these things, nor even acknowledge him for their Archbishop".  Augustin replied  "If you will not have peace from your brethren, you shall have war from your enemies; if you will not preach life to the Saxons, you shall receive death at their hands" and under the influence of such teaching Aethelfrith, King of Northumbria, poured 50,000 men into Brochwel's territory in the Vale of Chester, and 1,200 British Priests of the University of Bangor (Bangor Monachorum) wearing their white vestments and totally unarmed, who had come out to aid by their presence or prayers the unequal contest, were massacred to a man.  Aethelfrith then put to death every priest and student in the University and destroyed by fire its halls, colleges, churches and libraries.  Brochwel escaped with a small band of 50 men who managed to hold the passage of the Dee until the arrival of help, when in their turn the armies of Aethelfrith were put to flight with equal slaughter.

   Legend has it that in the year 540 at Pistyll Rhaeadr, the highest waterfall in Wales, is the old church of Pennant Melangell, named after an Irish virgin saint known as Monacella where one day she was confronted by the hunting hounds of Brochfael Ysgythrog as he hunted hares. The hare hid beneath the skirts of Monacella and the dogs stood off spellbound. This so impressed Brochfael that he asked her to marry him and when she refused he gave her land to build a nunnery.

  At Meifod a church was built to St.Gwyddfach. A second church built on the same site was dedicated to the better known St. Tysilio, a son of Brochfael the Fanged, King of Powys. It became the main church of Powys and many Princes were buried there. The present church at this spot is St. Mary's and has an old inscribed stone believed to be a monument to Prince Madoc ap Maredudd who died around 1160, but some date the stone as 9th century.