Culture, Power and the Charters of Welsh Rulers

  • Huw Pryce


In 1184 the southern Welsh ruler Rhys ap Gruffudd (the Lord Rhys) arrived with an armed force at Rhayader in mid-Wales. At the nearby church of Llansanffraid Cwmteuddwr he issued a charter confirming extensive lands to Strata Florida, a Cistercian abbey situated to the west of Rhayader in Ceredigion whose patronage Rhys had taken over after he captured its founder, Robert fitz Stephen, in 1165.1 The charter offers some interesting insights into the complex processes of cultural assimilation and Actaptation that occurred in the territories under native Welsh control from the mid-twelfth century onwards. It witnesses, not only to support for a reformed religious order of continental origin, but also to the Actaptation of the diplomatic of the Anglo-Norman charter; furthermore, the clause that introduces the list of lands granted in the disposition is derived from a papal bull, presumably that issued in favour of Strata Florida by Alexander III.2 Yet the document also draws on native traditions of charter-writing in its inclusion of lengthy perambulations written in a mixture of Latin and Welsh, and articulates the donor’s political aspirations through the use of the styles ‘Rhys, prince of Wales’ and ‘Rhys, proprietary prince of south Wales’ in the protocol and notification respectively.


Thirteenth Century Twelfth Century Beneficiary Production Monastic Order Letter Patent 
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© Huw Pryce 2005

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  • Huw Pryce

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