A Bowen family web historical reference series e-document.
The Battles of Owain Glyn Dwr's Welsh rebellion 1400-1409
This information incorporates as many battles as I have found reference to in various publications.No distinction has been made as to the number of combatants to distinguish "battles" from "skirmishes" or "incidents". We will make available here as many encounters between Owain Gly Dwr's forces verses those aligned with The King of England. Whenever information detailing the specifics of a battle or a brief related event is available we will include it for perspective.
The Battle of Pilleth by Brian Palmer
Owain Glyn Dwr
Lands claimed by Owain Glyn Dwr and Lord Grey of Ruthin are awarded to Lord Grey by the English Royal Courts which sparks the Owain Glyn Dwr led Welsh revolt .
Angered over the Royal courts decision not only favoring Lord Grey,but also ridiculing Owain and the welsh people,Owain Glyn Dwr as his followers proclaimed Glyn Dwr Prince of Wales gathered his men together,at his estate of Glyndyfrdwy in Merioneth.
Present were his brother,his son and his brothers-in-law,and several members of the Welsh clergy.
Glyn Dwr raised his standard and attacked Ruthin.
The first action of the Welsh rebels in 1400 was their attack upon English settlements in the northeast.It was while the king, Henry IV, was on campaign in Scotland that Owain and his men took their chance. They launched a raid against the hated English boroughs in the north-east: Ruthin, Denbigh, Rhuddlan, Flint, Hawarden, Holt, Oswestry and Welshpool were all attacked and burnt. But they lacked equipment to take the castles. The king was on his way back from Scotland when he heard the news, and turned at once to Shrewsbury. He led a short expedition into north Wales in October 1400, but this achieved little. Owain and his followers went into hiding. Now, instead of offering pardons and trying to reconcile the Welsh, the English government went out of their way to alienate the populace, holding judicial sessions, extracting subsidies and legislating against Welshmen in English boroughs and in England. This meant war. The welsh then melted into the mountains and nothing was heard of them until Owain's kinsmen, the Tudor family of Anglesey,occupied Conwy Castle at Easter 1401. (ref.12)
Owain's campaign began with an attack on the castle at Ruthin, entering at dawn to fire what they could. Similar attacks were to follow at Flint, Rhuddlan and Hawarden. His followers came from all walks, farmers, mercenaries and Welshmen returning from England to swell the ranks. His tactics were those of surprise attacks and his army was no doubt swelled by many local people, who were to be known as Owain's children, who would seem to melt away to return to everyday life after the battles.
Attacks in the south of Wales soon followed with equal success. The battles were not pleasant - the capture of Stalling Down saw Glyndwr and his French allies inflict a defeat on King Henry IV's men after an 18 hour battle. The blood was said to be "fetlock deep" (ref.14)
Henry Burnell defeats Owain Glyn Dwr
On Good Friday,with most of the garrison at church, a carpenter gained access to Conwy castle and admitted a group of Welsh rebels including Glyn Dwr's cousins, Gwilym and Rhys ap Tudur who proclaimed their allegiance to Owain Glyndwr. Most were pardoned when the castle was finally returned to the crown, others were jailed. A few months later (June), Owain defeated a force on Pumlumon (ref.8)
It was on Good Friday, in 1401, when the castle was garrisoned by some 75 Welshmen in the pay of the English crown, that Conwy fell to a group claiming allegiance to Owain Glyn Dwr. One story has it that most of the garrison were at church when a carpenter persuaded the guard to let him in. Once in he then let through the gates the supporters of Owain Glyn Dwr. The supporters were led by Gwilym Tudor and Rhys Tudor. Harry Hotspur, as chief justice of north Wales, was sent to remove them. Those in the castle surrendered nine of their number on condition that the others were pardoned.
On slopes of Plynlimon 7m sse Machynlleth,
Owain Glyn Dwr defeats the forces of Henry IV.
Owain and a few of his followers crossed Pumlumon mountain to the river Hyddgen. An army of men from Ceredigion, both Welsh and English, came to fight against him. The Welshmen decided to change sides and join Owain, and they drove the English soldiers away.
By the autumn, Adam of Usk reported that the whole of north Wales including Montgomeryshire had defected to Owain and were attacking the English and their towns. Defections were also reported at Builth. Henry IV responded with his October expedition and placed garrisons in many castles including Builth, Brecon and Painscastle.(ref.12)
Owain Glyn Dwr defeats Reginald Grey, Lord of Ruthin
Reginald Grey is captured and is later ransomed for a massive 10,000 marks (£6,666).
Pilleth/Bryn Glas, Radnorshire (near Knighton in Maesyfed)
2m nw Whitton,Radnorshire
Owain Glyn Dwr defeats Henry IV forces under Edward Mortimer
In June 1402 Owain Glyn Dwr led a force into Radnorshire. He was intercepted by "almost all the militia of Herefordshire" under the command of Edmund Mortimer, which would have been largely made up of tenants from the Mortimer estates. The two armies met near the village of Pilleth, a few miles from Presteigne. The chronicles imply that the battle took place on the hill above Pilleth church, Bryn Glas ("Green Hill"). As with all accounts of battles in the middle ages it is impossible to be sure of the numbers involved, but Mortimer's army could not have consisted of more than 4,000 men.
It seems probable that Owain's forces took up a position on the hillside, and that Mortimer's army advanced up the hill to meet them. At the crucial moment, however, their own archers turned on them and they were utterly defeated. The slaughter was said to be horrendous, and accounts put the numbers killed at between 200 and 1,100. This was one of the most significant moments of the rebellion: an English county levy had been utterly overwhelmed by the Welsh. Reports also quickly circulated that the Welsh women accompanying Owain's army had "obscenely mutilated" many of the bodies of the fallen.
Mortimer was captured, and when the English government procrastinated over his ransom he threw his lot in with the Welsh, marrying Owain's daughter on 30 November 1402. As his claim to the throne was arguably better than that of the king, Henry IV, this was a serious development.
Local tradition indicates that the bodies were buried in mass graves on the hillside and six Wellingtonia trees were planted to indicate one of the sites; although no records exist to substantiate this claim, it is quite possibly true.
On 22 June 1402 Owain led an expedition into Radnorshire and won a major victory at Bryn Glas, near Pilleth church, capturing Edmund Mortimer. (Leland, writing in the 1530s, said that Owain led a raid into Radnorshire in the summer of 1401 or 1402 and that he "spoiled and defaced" the abbey of Cwm-hir. Leland goes on to say that local tradition recalled him partly destroying Radnor castle, and beheading 20 men of the garrison afterwards, although contemporary English sources do not mention this raid.) The king immediately took steps to safeguard Radnor castle and put Brecon castle on alert, a clear indication that these areas were now within his reach. Edward Charlton was sent to his castle at Welshpool to counter the rebellion in Montgomeryshire, and Richard, Lord Grey of Codnor was made the king's lieutenant from Aberystwyth to Hay. The English government continued to raise revenues from estates in Wales with remarkable insensitivity, and the inhabitants of Brecon were told to pay a "war loan" of £210 towards Lord Grey's expenses to avoid having to dip into the ordinary revenues from the lordship! (ref.12)
5m n Wooler, Northumberland
English defeat Scots
(according to Fordun's Scotichronicon [Edinburgh 1759]) The Scottish Border Barons "the Hamiltons, Hepburns, Cockburns and Lauders",under the command of Sir Patrick Hepburn of Hailes,engaged the English on 22nd June at Nesbit Moor.This was a catastrophic defeat for the Scots.(ref.6)
England's Henry IV crosses the border into Wales.
Owain Glyn Dwr invades Herefordshire.(ref.1)
Homildon Hill / Humbleton, Northumberland
Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland defeats Archibald Douglas
(Newcastle and Wooler) Scots under Earl Archibold Douglas attack Newcastle. They are stopped by the English under Earl Percy at Humbleton Hill near Wooler and are defeated in battle. Later, the Percys fall into disagreement with the English king over Scottish prisoners taken in the battle and rebel against him.(ref.5)
Homilden Hill near Wooler. Hotspur and his father defeated Archibald, Earl of Douglas and his army of 10000 Scots. The Douglases were great enemies of the Northumberland Percys. 800 Scots were killed in their defensive position by English archers shooting uphill. 500 more drowned trying to escape over the Tweed. Douglas was captured having received 5 wounds including the loss of an eye. The Percys quarrelled with King Henry IV about their captives and as a result joined forces with the Welsh rebel Owen Glendower.
A year of triumph for Owain, with raids in the south and west. Conwy, Aberystwyth and Cardiff castles were besieged. Henry led another raid in Wales, with the same results. Also in this year Owain allied with the Percy family's (earls of Northumberland) revolt in England, which received a setback with Hotspur's defeat and death at the battle of Shrewsbury on 21 July 1403. Also, Owain gained his first assistance from the French, a further sign that his ambitions were being realised. The early months saw Owain very busy in north-east Wales, with the result that a garrison of 120 men was posted to Montgomery castle. The revolt could now truly be said to be national, and civilian rule was breaking down across Wales: revenues could not be collected and local powers of government and taxation were handed over to local military commanders, as happened in Montgomery, Radnor and Brecon. Castles such as Radnor, Montgomery and Builth were little more than isolated outposts. Henry IV responded with yet another royal expedition, which passed through Brecon on its way to Carmarthen. In October Henry appointed John, Lord Audley to take control of the castle and lordship of Brecon for a year.(ref.12)
Prince Henry marches into Wales and destroys Sycharth and Glyndyfrdwy (ref.2)
Owain defeated near Carmarthen (ref.1)
Shrewsbury, Shropshire (Percy's Rebellion)
Battlefield, 5m ne Shrewsbury, Salop
Henry IV forces under 16 year old Prince Henry (later Henry V)(britannia.com)
defeats Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland
(Shrewsbury and York)
Harry "Hotspur" Percy is killed in battle at Shrewsbury fighting against Henry IV. Hotspur raised a rebellion in Cheshire but the king intercepted him before he could join the forces of his father, the Earl of Northumberland. As a traitor Hotspur's body was drawn and quartered, King Henry ordered Hotspur's head be sent to his widow. On August 11, Hotspur's father, Henry Percy, submits to the king at York. (ref.5)
At Shrewsbury, in July 1403, the king's forces intercepted the rebel army before reinforcements could reach him from Northumberland and from Owain Glendwr's Wales. After a day-long battle of the utmost ferocity, Hotspur was killed and his troops routed. It was said that the trail of their corpses stretched for three miles (ref.9)
Lord Thomas Carew defeats Owain Glyn Dwr
Determined attack by Glyndwrs forces on town and castle of Caernarfon.(ref.2)
Jean d'Espagne defeats English forces
The kingdom of Henry IV was in a desperate state. The royal exchequer was so bare that Henry was obliged to accept parliamentary control of spending, and of his own council. Threats, both internal and external, multiplied. In 1404 Owain Glendwr, the effective ruler of Wales, convened his own parliament at Dolgellau and entered an alliance with Henry VI of France. (ref.10)
The Welsh were so active that the garrison at Radnor had to be increased on 24 January (most armies ceased to campaign through the winter). In February the men of upland Brecon were called upon to submit to the king's authority; they responded with the remarkable offer that if the king defeated the rebels in Glamorgan they would submit, but that if he failed to do so, they could not be expected to submit! Attacks were made into English border counties and the government was powerless to help: instead it allowed local communities in Shropshire and Montgomeryshire to make their own treaties with the rebels. The best they could do was to put large garrisons in Welshpool and Bishops Castle. Owain held his first national parliament at Machynlleth. (ref.12)
The English Parliament places Prince Henry in control of operations in Wales.(ref.2)
French defeat English
Owain Glyn Dwr defeats English
: NOTE :The first Welsh Parliament is held at Machynlleth.
Coronation of Owain Glyndwr as Prince of Wales at Machynlleth.
The garrison at Criccieth had been strengthened: the constable, Roger Acton, had 6 men-at-arms and 50 archers at an annual cost of £416. 14s. 2d. A French fleet in the Irish Sea supported Glyndwr and stopped provisions reaching the castles (Criccieth, Aberystwyth and Harlech) by sea In the spring of 1404, Criccieth fell to Glyn Dwr. Criccieth Castle and the borough were burned. The Castle was never rebuilt and the borough slowly recovered but was no longer a garrison borough and became wholly Welsh.
Seige of Harlech castle January through June
Harlech Castle, Merioneth
Castell cadarn a'i safle grymus ar ben y graig.
(A mighty castle superbly situated on a rocky crag.)
Owain Glyn Dwr defeats English
Harlech and Aberystwyth Castles are captured by Owain.
Bangor cathedral is burnt by Owain. (ref2)
Harlech Castle played a key role in the national uprising led by Owain Glyndwr. After a long siege, it fell to his forces in 1404. The castle became Glyndwr's residence and headquarters, and one of the two places to which he is believed to have summoned parliaments of his supporters. It was only after a further long siege in 1408 that Harlech was retaken by English forces under Harry of Monmouth, later Henry V.(ref.7)
Campstone Hill / Crampstone Hill
3m sw Grosmont Castle,Monmouthshire
Earl of Warwick defeats Owain Glyn Dwr
July 14, 1404 Glyn Dwr makes a formal alliance with France
In 1405 Owain Glyn Dwr entered a three-way pact with the two leading English rebels, Edmund Mortimer and the Earl of Northumberland . A French invasion force landed at Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire and advanced almost to Worcester. Another French army invaded Aquitaine, one of the few remaining English footholds on the continent. The king Henry IV was not idle. He suspended a vigorous campaign against Glendwr on the Welsh border to march north and scatter the forces of the Earl of Northumberland, who fled to Scotland. In 1405 Henry IV took ruthless action against the remaining northern rebels, ordering the public beheading in York of Thomas Mowbray, the earl marshal of England, Sir William Plumpton, and Richard Scrope, the Archbishop of York. (ref.10)
Prince Henry (later Henry V) defeats Owain Glyn Dwr forces under Rhys Gethin
A Welsh force led by Rhys Gethin is defeated at Grosmont.
Craig y Dorth
Henry IV forces defeat Owain Glyn Dwr
On the southern outskirts of Monmouth,between Penyclawdd and Monmouth town,when most of the English were slaughtered and chased to the town gate. ( ref16 )
NOTE > 1405 Craig y Dorth. Consequent to visiting Monmouth in 2007 and accessing the Monmouth Website I added this note....,
"The Monmouth website records that this battle took place in 1402 1.25 m sw Mitchel Troy, Mons and that Owen Glendower's forces beat those of Henry of Monmouth (later Henry V)"
Contributed in an e-mail from: John Muter of Carlisle
Pwllmelyn nr Usk, Monmouthshire
Henry IV forces defeats Owain Glyn Dwr
Pwll Melyn, 1405Owain Glyndr's troops attack Usk Castle, but are forced back to Mynydd Pwll Melyn - the Hill of the Yellow Pool - where they are routed trying to fight the English advance. ( ref 17)
Henry IV defeats Richard Scrope, Archbishop of York
Woodbury Hill, Worcester
Henry IV defeats Owain Glyn Dwr
French defeat English
English defeat French
French defeat English
February 19 (Northumberland's Rebellion)
Bramham Moor,w Tadcaster, Yorkshire
The Northumberland Rebellion ends as the Sheriff of Yorkshire defeats Henry Percy Earl of Northumberland & Thomas Bardolf
Prince Henry defeats Owain Glyn Dwr
Prince Henry defeats Owain Glyn Dwr
-Hotspur's brother in law and Glyn Dwr ally Edmund Mortimer is killed/died of starvation during the siege of Harlech in 1408-1409
Harlech Castle fell to henry after months of siege and bombardment. Glendwr escaped, his wife and daughter were captured, and his powerful son-in-law, Edmund Mortimer, died of starvation in the siege. Having forced Glendwyr to flee, King Henry offered a judicious mixture of pardons and bribes to other prominent rebels to desert their leader. It worked, and the revolt was effectively over. (ref.3)
In Wales, the embers of Owain Glendwr's rebellion flared one last time, when he led his dwindling band of followers on a raid into Shropshire. Most of his principal lieutenants, including Rhys ap Twdwr (Tudor) were captured and summarily executed. Glendwr escaped.(ref.11)
The red Welsh dragon "Y Ddraig Goch" owes its origins to folklore and Arthurian legend. Originating from a serpent representing the Welsh God Dewi, Celtic King Arthur was said to have had a dream about a red dragon (symbolically representing Wales) which slayed a white dragon (which represented the Saxon invaders). In later times a crude red dragon design was adopted by Prince Llywelyn of Gwynedd in the 7th Century and taken into battle by Welsh hero Prince Owain Glyndwr in conflicts with the invading English. In later history, at the Battle of Bosworth, Welsh-born King Henry VII (Henry Tudor, crowned 1485) unfurled the red dragon, which he in turn had adopted as his own emblem. As such, the beloved red dragon has always represented the defiant Welsh nation; iconising Wales's unique cultural and historic heritage as a proud and ancient nation which has long survived external threat. The Welsh dragon is often associated with the motto, "Y Ddraig Goch a ddyry Gychwyn" - or "The red dragon will show the way".
Battles and Major Skirmishes in Great Britain 55BC -1797:
John E. Muter, Whitehaven, Cumbria, United Kingdom, 1999
Image : The Battle of Pilleth 22 June 1402 by Brian Palmer
Battle of Pilleth : http://multiweb.ruralwales.net/~history/history/mach/owain7.html
(ref.1) 1911 encyclopedia britannica Owen Glendower http://2.1911encyclopedia.org/G/GL/GLENDOWER_OWEN.htm
(ref.8 ) http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/bytime/wales/revolt_course.shtml
( Ref 15) Note: I received the following in December of 2012
From: gordon hill <email@example.com>
To: "firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, December 6, 2012 7:26 AM
Subject: Bowen family website.
I have just had a look at your website regarding Owain Glyndwr's battles. Very good but just a couple of corrections to place names which would make it more acceptable for those in UK:
(1) Welshpool is in the old county of Montgomeryshire
Hyddgen is now in Powys but it was called Radnorshire. Many of the soldiers on the 'English' side were actually Flemings who had been settled in Pembrokeshire and were classed as 'mercenries' by the Welsh as they had usurped Welsh lands. They were summarily executed if captured.
Laugharne is in Carmarthenshire.
Craig y Dorth (Battle of.) is near Monmouth not Abergavenny. I know the owners!
Interestingly, the Welsh Assembly Government recently commissioned an archaeological examination of the Pilleth/Bryn Glas alleged battlefield, and they found nothing which would relate it to a battlefield. This has happened now to several 'battlefields' in Wales. I suppose time takes a hand, but after any battle, the field would have been cleaned of any usable items, and iron was a valuable commodity, but you would expect to find something! However, the Welsh refer to anything over the height of a molehill as a 'mountain', so could it be the same with 'battles'. I suspect many 'battles' were little more than skirmishes with relatively small numbers involved. Just look at the numbers which were used to garrison castles. One 'man at arms' and 12 archers! Not much of an army. The population of Wales at that time would also be very small compared with today. No large towns or cities. Cardiff at that time had just over 1000 of a population if that. Newport was a village even Chepstow was no more that a small market town within its walls.
At Pilleth, great store has been put upon 'Wellingtonia' trees being planted to mark the grave site. This could well be the story for the Victorians, as Wellingtonia were not brought to UK until the mid 1800s. Large estates often planted pine trees on natural or man-made mounds to mark visual location points for the local fox hunts to assemble at during a hunt. I know from local knowledge that many bronze age burial mounds were so treated. What we need is real excavations to establish the 'truth'.
Anyway. I enjoyed your site. If I come across any more items for you I will be in contact.
78 Newport Road
Tel: 0044 (0)1291 424143
Mobile/Handy/Cell phone 0044 (0)7855 402493
Badged Member of the Guild of Battlefield Guides
Registered Blue Badge Guide with the Welsh Assembly Government
ref 16 : http://medievalnews.blogspot.com/2009/08/call-for-medieval-battlefields-to-be.html#!/2009/08/call-for-medieval-battlefields-to-be.html
ref 17 : http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Why+Battle+of+Craig-y-dorth+in+1404+could+be+as+much+on+the+map+as...-a0167335528
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This page was updated with corrections and or additions on April 15, 2013