To understand contemporary Welsh and Irish politics it is important to understand context and to start in the abstract. In that spirit let’s go back to 1093.
After defeating England in a day in 1066 William the Conqueror spared little time in trying to take on the rest of us. The Welsh kingdom of Deheubarth was ruled, after the battle of Mynydd Carn in 1081 by Rhys ap Tewdwr whose alliance with Gwynedd’s Irish born glorious Gruffydd ap Cynan had produced some political stability at a time of extreme peril for Welsh civilisation.
Through a combination of servility, posturing and bribery (Rhys paid William forty quid a year homage) Rhys managed to outlive the Conqeuror but met his maker at the battle of Brecon in 1093. Bernard_de_Neufmarche killed him as Rhys was attempting to chuck the Normans out of Brycheiniog. Deheubarth fell to William’s successor Henry I.
Which left the little matter of Nest, Rhys’s daughter by his wife Gwladys. All contemporary observers agree on Nest’s beauty. Infatuated Henry appointed himself her protector – Nest bore him an illegitimate child. Henry FitzRoy.
Henry then married Nest off to Gerald de Windsor, with whom she had 5 kids, of which more later.
Nest’s cousin Owain ap Cadwgan, of the Powys royal line, came to Cilgerran to stay in 1109, was so strucken by Nest’s beauty that he kidnapped her and the kids. According to the legend Gerald escaped by jumping down the lavatory chute.
Some brouhaha follwed – Henry confiscated Owain’s father Cadwgan’s Powys kingdom. Owain and Nest fled to Ireland and had 2 children, Llywelyn and Ynyr. Gerald had the last laugh. Whilst he and Owain were fighting on the same side for Henry against the rebellion of Nest’s brother Gruffydd ap Rhys (..try and keep up) Gerald caught Owain unprotected and killed him. Ho hum so Nest returns to Gerald. Gerald dies (in his sleep !!!) and Nest
becomes the lover of Stephen, constable of Cardigan – they have a child, Robert FitzStephen.
Meanwhile….. Nest’s daughter Angharad de Windsor married William de Barry. Their progeny included Giraldus Cambrensis, a pretty famous Welsh historian and 2 soldier sons, Philip and Robert. These two fought in Ireland with Strongbow, and founded the family “Walsh” /”Welsh” of Kilkenny – The name “Walsh” is now the fourth most common name in Ireland. Small world.
Welsh Nationalist. Rugby Fan. Know a bit about History and Railways…