Who was Llywelyn ap Gruffudd?

There are many Llywelyns in Wales. Llywelyn is an old Welsh name, which is the source many of the Lewis family names - from Llew’s - the family of Llyw or Llew. Llew) is the Welsh name for a lion, llewpart is a leopard and Llewyn is a Lynx. Elin is an old name for the forearm. Thus Llywelyn is a man with the forearm of a lion - that is the strength and courage of a lion. In Wales a person was known by their patronym; the boys by map (ap) (son of - as Mac in Irish) and the girls by merch (daughter of -)

The first Llywelyn to be king of north Wales was Llywelyn ap Seisyll, who was killed in 1039. His son Gruffudd ap Llywelyn united Wales between 1036 and 1063. He is sometimes referred to as Llywelyn I st.

The greatest king of Wales to be called Llywelyn was Llywelyn ap Iorwerth ab Owain ap Gruffudd ap Cynan ab Iago ab Idwal ap Meurig ab Idwal ab Anarawd ap Rhodri Mawr ap Merfyn Frych. The family of kings had ruled Gwynedd intermittently in the male line since the early part of the 9th century. Llywelyn ap Iorwerth was known as Llywelyn Fawr (the Great) and by many as Llywelyn II nd. By others, who do not count Llywelyn ap Seisyll, refer to Llywelyn the Great as Llywelyn I st. Owain ap Gruffudd was the last king of Wales to be called king after that the rulers were known as princes, because the king of England would not allow the term to be used except by him himself.

The Llywelyn who was killed at Cilmeri or Aberedwy was the grandson of Llywelyn the Great. Thus he was Llywelyn ap Gruffudd ap Llywelyn ab Iorwerth. This Llywelyn is known as Llywelyn ein Llyw Olaf - Our Last Defender, or Llywelyn III rd (If you do not count Llywelyn ap Seisyll, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd is Llywelyn II nd.)

There is now a considerable amount of biographical detail available about Llywelyn, the 1st Prince of Wales recognised by the English king and a very good biography by John Beverley Smith, published in both languages. This book is of major importance since it has indicated a large field for further research and thus clarrification of the events and personalities of Wales in the Middle Ages.