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Vol. 45 2001

Owain Glyndŵr and the siege of Coity Castle, 1404-1405

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Ralph A. Griffiths
The celebrations at the village of Coity to mark the Millennium
included a re-enactment of the siege of Coity Castle in 1404-5: 'Local
history brought to life', announced the attractive leaflet of the 'Coety
Village Association'. The re-enactment was prefaced by a genuine
attempt to understand the 'significant and historic event' which took
place at Coity almost 600 years earlier. This essay is based on a lecture
given on the evening before the re-enactment (24 and 25 June 2000).
The siege of Coity was indeed significant for its length and its
importance, and it was indeed historic, because it is the most famous
event associated with the castle in the entire 900 years of its existence.
Yet we know very little about the siege and the circumstances
surrounding it, even though it lasted for a good part of two years. No
detailed account of it has ever been published. This is partly because
the entire revolt of Owain Glyn Dwr (c. 1400-10), of which the siege
was an interesting episode, is far from easy to understand; and partly
because the historical records of Glamorgan in the Middle Ages
Coity included have mostly disappeared. It is not even known
whether or not Glyn Dwr himself was present at the siege, though he
probably was.
The revolt was a complex movement, which historians have had
difficulty in reconstructing. Particularly difficult to gauge are the
extent of its appeal in different parts of Wales; the attitudes of the
various peoples of Wales, native and immigrant, to Owain's call to rise
against King Henry IV (1399-1413); and the quality of Owain's plans
and strategy for a successful revolt. In 1931, J.E.Lloyd established an
authoritative chronology of the events of the revolt; and in 1995
R.R.Davies's The Revolt of Owain Glyn Mr sought to advance our
understanding of some of the fundamental issues, and especially to
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