Llythyrau Llywelyn / Llywelyn’s Letters

Extracts from Llywelyn, Prince of Wales letter to John Peckham, Archbishop of Canterbury in Autumn, 1282:​​

“The realm of England may well be the special object of the Roman curia’s affection, but the aforesaid curia has yet to learn, and must learn, and the lord pope likewise, what evils have been wrought upon us by the English, how the peace formerly made has been violated in all the clauses of the treaty, how churches have been fired and devastated, and ecclesiastical persons, priests, monks and nuns slaughtered, women slain with children at their breast, hospitals and other houses of religion burned, Welsh people murdered in cemeteries, churches, yes at the very altar, with other sacrilegious offences horrible to hear. All which are detailed in these rotuli we send you in writing for your inspection.

“Now our best hope is that you fatherly piety may incline kindly towards us, and neither the Roman curia nor the realm of England need be shaken for our sake, provide it is understood in advance that the peace we seek be not only made, but observed. Those who do indeed delight in the shedding of blood are identified manifestly by their deeds, and thus far the English, in their usage of us, have spared none, whether for sex, or age, or weakness, nor passed by any church or sacred place. Such outrages the Welsh have not committed.

“We fight because we are forced to fight, for we, and all Wales, are oppressed, subjugated, despoiled, reduced to servitude by the royal officers and bailiffs, in defiance of the form of the peace and of all justice …. so that we feel, and have often so protested to the king, that we are left without any remedy.
Always the justiciars and bailiffs grow more savage and cruel, and if these become satiated with their unjust exactions, those in their turn apply themselves to fresh exasperations against the people. To such a pass are we come that they begin to prefer death to life. It is not fitting in such case to threaten greater armies, or move the Church against us. Let us but have peace, and observe it as due, as we have expressed above.

“You should not believe all the words of our enemies, Holy Father, the very people who by their deeds oppress and ill-use us, and in their words defame us by attributing to us whatever they choose. They are ever present with you, and we absent, they the oppressors, we the oppressed.”

****

Extract from Llywelyn’s response to English king, Edward I’s offer of lands and money in England in exchange for Lordship of Eryri and Principality of Wales:

“The prince is no way bound to forgo his heritage and that of his forebears from the time of Brutus, and again confirmed as his by the papal legate, as is suggested, and accept lands in England where language, manners, laws and customs are foreign to him, and where, moreover, malicious mischiefs may be perpetrated against him, out of hatred, by English neighbours, from whom that land has been expropriated in perpetuity.

“Since the king is proposing to deprive the prince of his original inheritance, it seems unbelievable that he will allow him to hold land in England, where he is seen to have no legal right. And similarly, if the prince is not to be allowed to hold the sterile and uncultivated land rightfully his by inheritance from old times, here in Wales, it is incredible to us that in England he will be allowed possession of lands cultivated, fertile and abundant.”

Dyma’r wefan lle gefais y wybodaeth hon.

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