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Local History > Llewelyn Fawr

Llewelyn Fawr

One of the great heroes of Welsh history, Llewelyn ap Iorwerth (known as Llewelyn Fawr - Llewelyn the Great) has many connections with this area. He was probably born at Dolwyddelan Castle in the Lledr Valley and emerged as a powerful leader around 1200 after a fierce family struggle. He was a wise and capable politician who controlled Gwynedd which covered North West Wales, and then came to be accepted as leader by the princes of South Wales. With his influence extending from North to South Wales King John of England (made famous by the Robin Hood tale) considered him to be a threat.

Llewelyn married Joan, who was the natural daughter of King John, hoping that this would satisfy the King. But King John attacked Llewelyn anyway, and Llewelyn was forced back to the natural mountain fortress of Snowdonia. Joan spoke to King John on Llewelyn's behalf and he was allowed to keep his lands in Snowdonia and his title of Prince, but he had to pay the cost of the war, and 20,000 cattle and accept King John as King.

However, later on King John had other troubles. He was a cruel leader, and the Pope, King Phillip of France, and even his own Barons, turned against him. Llewelyn saw his chance, and counter-attacked with the other Welsh Princes, and won the lands back. The English land bordering Wales was controlled by Norman Lords appointed by the King - known as the Marcher Lords. Llewelyn consolidated his position by marrying his daughters into the families of these Marcher Lords, bringing relative peace and stability in a period where conflict was the norm.

Llewelyn is said to have built a hunting court at Trefriw where he is supposed to have founded the parish church. Before this church was built, Llewelyn and his wife Joan would have had to make the steep and long walk to the ancient church of Llanrhychwyn high above the Conwy Valley. He is said to have built the new church to save his wife the walk.

llanrychwyn church
© Delweddau Algieri Images
Llanrychwyn Church Eglwys Llanrychwyn

Llewelyn was a religious man who founded the Abbey of Aberconwy where the town of Conwy now stands by giving a charter in 1189. He lived the final two years of his life at the Abbey and was buried there after his death in 1240. When Edward I invaded Wales he moved the Abbey to Maenan in the Conwy Valley, so that he could build Conwy Castle on the site. The Abbey remained at Maenan until the Dissolution of the Monastries. After the Dissolution the coffin of Llewelyn Fawr in its stone sarcophagus disappeared, and only the rediscovered lower half of the stone casing may now be seen in the Wynn chapel of St. Crwst's Church in Llanrwst. The location of the final resting place of the remains of Llewelyn Fawr is unknown.

Llewelyn Fawr

Mae gan un o'r arwyr mwyaf yn hanes Cymru, Llewelyn ap Iorwerth (neu Lewelyn Fawr), lawer o gysylltiadau â'r ardal yma. Mwy na thebyg, cafodd ei eni yng Nghastell Dolwyddelan yn Nyffryn Lledr, ac fe aeth ymlaen i fod yn arweinydd cryf tua 1200, ar ôl ymdrech ffyrnig teuluol. Roedd yn wleidyddwr doeth a galluog, ac roedd yn rheoli Gwynedd yng Ngogledd Orllewin Cymru, cyn iddo gael ei dderbyn fel rheolwr gan dywysogion De Cymru. Hefo'i ddylanwad yn ymestyn o Ogledd i Dde Cymru, teimlai y Brenin John (yn enwog o storïau 'Robin Hood') ei fod yn beryglus.

castell dolwyddelan castle

Dolwyddelan Castle Castell Dolwyddelan

Priododd Llewelyn Siwan, merch naturiol y Brenin John, gan obeithio buasai hyn yn bodloni'r Brenin. Ond ymosododd John ar Llewelyn sut bynnag, a chafodd Llewelyn ei wthio'n ôl i amddiffynfa naturiol Eryri. Siaradodd Siwan hefo'r Brenin ar ran Llewelyn ac fe gafodd gadw ei diroedd yn Eryri a'i deitl o 'Tywysog', ond roedd yn rhaid iddo dalu cost y rhyfel, ac 20,000 o wartheg, a derbyn y Brenin John yn Frenin.

Beth bynnag, yn nes ymlaen cafodd y Brenin John broblemau eraill. Roedd yn arweinydd creulon, ac fe drôdd y Pâb, y Brenin Phillip o Ffrainc, ac hyd yn oed ei farwniaid ei hun, yn ei erbyn. Gwelodd Llewelyn ei gyfle, ac fe wrthymosododd arno hefo'r Tywysogion Cymraeg eraill, ac ennillodd y tiroedd yn ôl. Rheolwyd y tiroedd Saesneg ar ffiniau Cymru gan Arglwyddi Normanaidd a benodwyd gan y Brenin - gelwir rhain yn Arglwyddi'r Gororau. Cadarnhaodd Llewelyn ei sefyllfa wrth briodi ei ferched i fewn i deuluoedd yr Arglwyddi yma, gan ddod a chymharol heddwch a sadrwydd i amser lle roedd brwydro yn fwy cyffredin.

Dywedir i Lewelyn adeiladu llys hela yn Nhrefriw, lle, yn ôl y sôn, fe sefydlodd eglwys y plwyf. Cyn i'r eglwys yma gael ei hadeiladu, buasai'n rhaid i Lewelyn a'i wraig Siwan gerdded i fyny'r allt hir a serth i hen eglwys Llanrhychwyn, yn uchel uwchben Dyffryn Conwy. Dywedir ei fod wedi adeiladu'r eglwys newydd i arbed ei wraig rhag gorfod cerdded i fyny'r allt.

Roedd Llewelyn yn ddyn crefyddol, a sefydlodd Abaty Aberconwy yn y man lle mae dref Conwy rwan, wrth roi siarter iddo yn 1189. Fe dreuliodd y ddwy flynedd olaf o'i fywyd yn yr Abaty ac fe gladdwyd yno ar ôl ei farwolaeth yn 1240. Pan wnaeth Edward I oresgyn Cymru, fe symudodd yr Abaty i Faenan yn Nyffryn Conwy, er mwyn cael adeiladu Castell Conwy ar y safle. Arhosodd yr Abaty ym Maenan hyd nes i'r mynachdai gael eu diddymu gan Henry VIII. Ar ôl hyn, fe ddiflannodd arch Llewelyn Fawr, a'i arch garreg, a dim ond yr hanner gwaelod o'r arch garreg (a gafodd ei hail-ddarganfod) sydd i'w gweld heddiw yng nghapel Wynn yn Eglwys St. Crwst yn Llanrwst. Does neb yn gwybod yn lle mae gweddillion Llewelyn Fawr yn gorwedd.



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