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National Library of Wales journal


Cyf. 21, rh. 1 Haf 1979

Wales and Bosworth field- selective historiography?

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returned to his home at Plas Iolyn. The exact year of his death is not known,
but there is evidence to prove that he was alive in 1510.26 He was buried at Ysbyty
Ifan Church, where his sadly mutilated effigy can still be seen. [Incidentally, a
few yards away from the porch of the Church is the grave of Sion Dafydd Berson,
who was buried there almost two hundred years later]. For three and a half centuries
the effigies of Rhys Fawr, Lowri his wife, and their son Rhobert ap Rhys, rested
in the Pantglas Chapel of the old Church. This was built on the site of the former
Hospice of St. John which was founded in 1192. The present church was built in
1858, and sketches of the effigies, which are now resting by the main doorway,
have been published.27'28
It is difficult to understand how The Battle of Bosworth volume can ignore the
presence of such significant figures as Rhys ap Thomas and Rhys Fawr. Both
luchelwyr' (noblemen) deserve full consideration here if only to fill this obvious
hiatus in the official story, but Rhys Fawr will receive the more detailed commentary
as he was the leader of the men of Hiraethog and a tinge of parochial bias cannot
be suppressed. The bibliography reveals many references to Rhys ap Thomas, and
to his long line of distinguished ancestors.
Rhys Fawr ap Maredudd (or Meredydd) was a member of one of the most
powerful and influential landed families of North Wales. The history of the family
has been presented in a fascinating review by Miss Enid Pierce Roberts under the
title of 'Teulu Plas Iolyn' (The Plas Iolyn Family). According to Miss Pierce
Roberts, Rhys Fawr's father, Maredudd ap Tudur, flourished c. 1450, and the
family were ardent Lancastrians, but she has not been able to trace any blood
relationship with Owen Tudur of Penmynydd, Henry Tudor's grandfather.26
Rhys Fawr's pedigree extended back about five hundred years, and it is not
likely that many persons on Bosworth field could exhibit such a sound and
continuous ancestry. Hemp referred to the 'wealthy Rhys ap Meredydd' and
stated: 'The Price family of Plas Iolyn in Ysbytty Ifan with its allied families
especially as the pedigree is historically sound'.29 According to The History of Powys
Fadog Rhys was 'lineally descended from Marchweithian, Lord of Is Aled', who
as stated by Glenn was one of the founders of the fifteen tribes of North Wales.
Edward Lhuyd writing from Oxford in 1707 described: 'Marchweithian in
Rhyfoniog, owner of Karnedd vynydd, Din Kadvael etc.' [and one may add
Lleweni]30 as flourishing c. 913. G. P. Jones in his study of Rhos and Rhufoniog
Pedigrees wrote: 'Marchweithian, then, can be dated ten generations before Heilyn
Frych, i.e., in the late tenth or early eleventh century.'31 and Peter Bartram estimates
that he lived c. 1000. The full pedigree of Rhys Fawr extending unbroken over
five centuries has been recorded by Lloyd, and along precisely the same lines by
Glenn. Bezant Lowe's article on 'The Price Families of Plas Iolyn and Rhiwlas'
published in Archaeologia Cambrensis is particularly valuable and informative, and
includes photographs of the two historic houses.32 The ruined remains of Plas
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