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  • ID: I53499
  • Name: Merfyn Frych Ap Gwriad
  • Given Name: Merfyn Frych
  • Surname: Ap Gwriad
  • Prefix: King
  • Suffix: The Speckled
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: Abt 764 in Wales
  • Note:
    Sources for this Information:
    parents: [Ref: Moncreiffe RoyalAnc p10, Stewart Baldwin SGM 7/27/1997-062054], maternal-grandfather: Cynan Tindaethwy [Ref: Tapsell Dynasties p177], note: [Ref: Wurts MCBarons p434]
  • Death: 844 in Battle Of Cyfeil, Ketell, Wales
  • Note:
    Sources for this Information:
    date: [Ref: Moncreiffe RoyalAnc p10, Tapsell Dynasties p177]
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50
  • _UID: 594FE9B7646D6040B3889757CD5E2881B645
  • Change Date: 20 Jun 2011 at 12:58
  • Note:

    RESEARCH NOTES:
    825-844: Prince of Gwynedd [Ref: Tapsell Dynasties p177] King of Gwynedd [Ref: Moncreiffe RoyalAnc p10]

    called Mervin the Freckled [Ref: Moncreiffe RoyalAnc p10, Wurts MCBarons p434]

    held out against all Welsh rivals and Danish Vikings [Ref: Moncreiffe RoyalAnc p10]

    name of wife unknown; his alleged wife Nest of Powys (given as wife of Gwraid in some confused accounts) probably never existed. [Ref: Stewart Baldwin SGM 6/29/1997-200717]
    OR "MERMIN"; KNOWN AS "FRYCH (THE FRECKLED)"; PRINCE OF NORTH WALES
    -----------------
    Merfyn Frych ap Gwriad (or Merfyn the Freckled) (died 844) was a King of Gwynedd and possibly also of Powys.

    Merfyn Frych seized control of Gwynedd in 825 on the death of Hywel ap Rhodri Molwynog, though he may have held power in Anglesey since 818. Merfyn was not a member of the traditional dynasty of Gwynedd, the direct male line of Maelgwn Gwynedd, and his succession marked the start of a new dynasty. His claim was apparently based on the fact that his mother, Esyllt, was the daughter of Cynan Dindaethwy ap Rhodri and the niece of Hywel ap Rhodri. According to bardic tradition, Merfyn came "from the land of Manaw", but it is uncertain whether this refers to the Isle of Man ("Ynys Manaw" in Welsh) or to Manaw Gododdin, the area around the Firth of Forth. It would seem likely that it was the latter on account of the probability he would be a blood relative of Cunedda, the founder of the Gwynedd dynasty, who was a prince of Manaw Gododdin. On the other hand there is an inscription "Crux Guriat" on a cross in the Isle of Man. This cross has been dated to the eighth or ninth century and might possibly refer to Merfyn's father.

    Merfyn allied himself to the royal house of Powys by marrying Nest, daughter of Cadell ap Brochwel and sister of Cyngen king of Powys. He had a reputation as a patron of scholars; for example the Historia Britonum attributed to Nennius is thought to have been written in Gwynedd during his reign, possibly by request of Merfyn himself. A manuscript found at Bamberg gives a further insight into Merfyn's scholarly interests. Irish visitors to his court were given a cryptogram which could only be solved by transposing the letters from Latin into Greek.

    Despite Danish raids, Merfyn was able to maintain his position and on his death in 844 to hand the kingdom over intact to his son Rhodri the Great. He is said to have died in battle, but the circumstances are not recorded. His descendants came to rule not only Gwynedd but also Powys and Deheubarth and played a major role in Welsh politics until the end of Welsh independence in 1283.

    _________________________________________
    Merfyn Frych or Merfyn Frych ap Gwriad (English: Merfyn the Freckled, son of Gwriad) was King of Gwynedd (reigned 825 844), the first king not descended from the male line of Maelgwn Gwynedd. Little is known of his reign, and his primary notability is as the father of Rhodri the Great. Merfyn came to the throne in the aftermath of a bloody dynastic struggle between brothers Cynan (reigned 798 816) and Hywel (reigned 816 825),[1] at a time when the kingdom had been under pressure from Mercia.[2] The Annales Cambriae says that he died in 844, the same year in which a battle occurred at Ketill (or Cetyll), but it does not make clear whether there is a connection, or whether it is referring to two unrelated events.[3][4]

    [edit] Political background

    A general map of Gwynedd showing the cantrefi.The times leading up to Merfyn's reign were unsettled for both Gwynedd and neighbouring Powys. Both kingdoms were beset by internal dynastic strife, external pressure from Mercia, and bad luck from nature's whims. In 810 there was a bovine plague that killed many cattle throughout Wales. The next year Deganwy, the ancient fortified llys (English: royal court) of Maelgwn Gwynedd and built of wood, was struck by lightning. A destructive dynastic war raged in Gwynedd between 812 and 816, particularly on Anglesey, while in Powys a son of the king was killed by his brother "through treachery". In 818 there was a notable battle at Llanfaes on Anglesey. The combatants are not identified, but the site had been the llys of King Cynan.[5]

    Coenwulf of Mercia took advantage of the situation in 817, occupying Rhufoniog (see map) and laying waste to the mountains of Eryri (English: Snowdonia), the defensive stronghold of Gwynedd. Coastal Wales along the Dee Estuary was still in Mercian hands in 821, as it is known that Coenwulf died peacefully at Basingwerk in that year. In 823 Mercia laid waste to Powys and returned to Gwynedd to burn down Deganwy.

    Gwynedd and Powys then gained a respite when Mercia's attention turned elsewhere and its fortunes waned. King Beornwulf was killed fighting the East Anglians in 826, his successor Ludeca suffered the same fate the following year, and Mercia was conquered and occupied by Ecgberht of Wessex in 829. Though Mercia managed to throw off Ecgberht's rule in 830, it was thereafter beset by dynastic strife, and never regained its dominance, either in Wales or eastern England.[6]

    It was just as Mercian power was on the verge of breaking that Merfyn Frych came to the throne, certainly a case of fortuitous timing.

    [edit] Family background and marriage
    Merfyn was linked to the earlier dynasty through his mother Ethyllt (or Etthil or Essyllt, Esyllt), the daughter of King Cynan (d. 816), rather than through his father Gwriad.[7][note 1] As his father's origins are obscure, so is the basis of his claim to the throne (see below).[7]

    Merfyn allied his own royal family with that of Powys by marrying Nest, daughter or sister of King Cadell ap Brochwel.[note 2]

    [edit] Reign
    Precious little is known of Merfyn's reign. Thornton suggests that Merfyn was probably among the Welsh kings who were defeated by Ecgberht, king of Wessex, in the year 830, but it is unknown how this affected Merfyn's rule.[7]

    Merfyn is mentioned as a king of the Britons in a copyist's addition[note 3] to the Historia Brittonum and in the Bamberg Cryptogram, [note 4] but as both sources are traced to people working in Merfyn's own court during his reign, it should not be considered more significant than someone's respectful reference to his patron while working in his service.

    In the literary sources, Merfyn's name appears in the Dialogue between Myrddin and his sister Gwenddydd (Welsh: Cyfoesi Myrddin a Gwenddydd ei chwaer), found in the mid-13th-century manuscript known as the Red Book of Hergest. The dialogue is a prophecy of the future kings, and lists among them Merfyn in the passage "meruin vrych o dir manaw"[14] (English: Merfyn Frych of the land of Manau).

    [edit] Gwriad, Merfyn's father
    Extremely little is known of Merfyn's father Gwriad. Merfyn claimed descent from Llywarch Hen through him, and the royal pedigree in Jesus College MS. 20 says that Gwriad was the son of Elidyr, who bears the same name as his ancestor, the father of Llywarch Hen, Elidyr lydanwyn.[15] Supporting the veracity of the pedigree is an entry in the Annales Cambriae, which states that Gwriad, the brother of Rhodri the Great, was slain on Anglesey by the Saxons. That is to say, Merfyn named one of his sons after his father Gwriad.[16]

    The discovery of a cross inscribed Crux Guriat (English: Cross of Gwriad) on the Isle of Man and dated to the 8th or 9th century[17] raised the question of whether Gwriad's possible connection to "Manaw" was to that of the Gododdin, once active in North Britain, or to the Isle of Man (Welsh: Ynys Manaw).[7] John Rhys suggested that Gwriad might well have taken refuge on the Isle of Man during the bloody dynastic struggle between Cynan and Hywel prior to Merfyn's accession to the throne, and that the cross perhaps does refer to the refugee Gwriad, father of Merfyn. He goes on to note that the Welsh Triads mention a 'Gwryat son of Gwryan in the North'. Other locations for "Manaw" have been suggested, including Ireland, Galloway and Powys.

    While Rhys' suggestion is not implausible, his reference to Gwriad's father Gwrian contradicts the royal pedigree, which says that Gwriad's father was Elidir, so this may be a confusion of two different people named Gwriad. Gwriad's name does appear with northern origins in the Welsh Triads as one of the "Three kings, who were of the sons of strangers" (sometimes referred to as the "Three Peasant Kings"), where he is identified as the son of "Gwrian in the North".

    The other literary references to Gwriad and his father Gwrian also suggest that this Gwriad is a different person with the same name as Merfyn's father. For example, Gwrian's name also appears in The Verses of the Graves (Welsh: Englynion y Beddau) in the Black Book of Carmarthen, as does Gwriad's name, which also appears in the Gododdin.




    Father: Merfyn (Frych) Ap Gwriad b: Abt 760
    Mother: Essylt Verch Cynan b: Abt 770 in Caer Seiont, Caernarvon, Wales

    Marriage 1 Nesta Verch Cadell b: 730 in Powys, Montgomeryshire, Wales
    • Married:
    • Note:
      Sources for this Information:
      child: [Ref: Moncreiffe RoyalAnc p10], note: [Ref: Wurts MCBarons p434]
    • Change Date: 20 Jun 2011
    Children
    1. Has Children Rhodri "The Great" Ap Merfyn b: 788 in Caer Seiont, Carnarvonshire, Wales

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      Author: David A. Blocher (personal use) dblocher51@yahoo.com
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      Title: Ancestry of Meriwether Lewis (Explorer)
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      Note:
      One half of the team of 'Lewis & Clark' that mapped out the Pacific Northwest.
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