Gerald Morgan reviews
Dyddiau Olaf Owain Glyndŵr
by Gruffydd Aled Williams
Owain Glyndŵr’s reputation has been extraordinarily varied. In the early Anglo-Welsh ‘establishment’ view his revolt was wholly destructive, a national disaster. But an early alternative vision saw him as a folk hero, sleeping in a cave surrounded by his followers, waiting for Wales to call him back in her time of need. Shakespeare presented a more nuanced figure. But this last, lost Welsh prince began his real career as National Hero in the late 18th century thanks mainly to Thomas Pennant’s initial interest in him in his Tour in Wales of 1778. From then on Glyndŵr’s fame grew, thanks to a number of works in both Welsh and English, culminating in A.G. Bradley’s 1901 volume, Owen Glendower, in the series ‘Heroes of the Nations’, followed at intervals by Sir John Edward Lloyd’s Oxford study of 1931, R.R. Davies’s The Revolt of Owain Glyn Dŵr and most recently the remarkable 600-page examination by Michael Livingston and John K. Bollard, Owain Glyndŵr: A Casebook (2015).
One could be forgiven for believing that nothing more could be squeezed from the sources after the Casebook. Here are all the textual sources with translations, and a series of magisterial essays, including two by Gruffydd Aled Williams, whose 224-page study of Owain’s last days is here reviewed. In fact, Williams was probably engaged on this work well before the publication of the Casebook. So although one of his Casebook essays deals with later Welsh poetry mentioning Owain, the volume did not include a detailed study of Glyndŵr’s last secret – where did he die, and where is his grave?Sign in to read more