Medieval Powys

Medieval Powys

Kingdom, Principality and Lordships, 1132-1293

David Stephenson


Boydell Press



First full-scale account of the medieval realm of Powys.
Powys, extending over north-east and central Wales, was one of three great medieval Welsh polities, along with Gwynedd to the north and Deheubarth (south-west), occupying nearly a quarter of the country. However, it has been somewhat neglected by historians, who have tended to dismiss it as a satellite realm of England, and viewed its leaders as obstacles to the efforts of Gwynedd leaders to construct a principality of Wales.
This book provides the first full, authoritative history of Powys in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It argues in particular that the Powysian rulers were dogged and resourceful survivors in the face of pressure from Welsh rivals and the problems of internal fragmentation; and that, paradoxically, co-operation with the English and intermarriage with marcher families underlay a desire to regain lands to the east lost in earlier centuries.

Dr David Stephenson is an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of History, Welsh History and Archaeology, Bangor University.


9 line illustrations
363 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in Celtic History
Hardback, 9781783271405, September 2016
eBook, 9781782048565, September 2016
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS037010, HIS015000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: The problem of medieval Powys: Historiography and sources.
The re-emergence of Powys
The age of eminence: Madog ap Maredudd.
Crisis and renewal: 1160 and its aftermath
The ascendancy and fall of Gwenwynwyn
Eclipse: the supremacy of Gwynedd
Survival: the case of Gruffudd, lord of Bromfield
Survival: the case of Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn
The persistence of Powysian lordship: Owain ap Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn and the descendants of Madog ap Maredudd
Powysian Polities I: aspects of governance
Powysian Polities II: secular dynamics; fragmentation and integration
Powysian Polities III: the ecclesiastical dimension
Some Powysian perspectives: fears and aspirations
Appendix I. The Combermere charters: a new analysis and some implications
Appendix II. Two alleged charters of Elise ap Madog
Appendix III. 'Powys Fadog' and 'Powys Wenwynwyn'
Appendix IV. The date of composition of Breuddwyd Rhonabwy
Select Bibliography


There can be no doubt that his work will provide a solid foundation for, and indeed stimulate, much future work on the fascinating subject of medieval Powys. SPECULUM

David Stephenson's excellent history of the kingdom of Powys signals a long-needed sea-change in the writing of Welsh history. HISTORY

An outstanding work of scholarship. STUDIA CELTICA

Has profound implications for our understanding of medieval Welsh and Marcher history that challenge the conventional canon of literature. TRANSACTIONS OF THE SHROPSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Another major step forward in our understanding of the complex politics of Wales in the Middle Ages. BRYCHEINIOG JOURNAL

Very nicely produced by the Boydell Press, Medieval Powys is a valuable resource for any scholar interested in medieval Wales. NORTH AMERICAN JOURNAL OF CELTIC STUDIES

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