The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion

Recognising the contribution of Wales in contemporary society

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Cofio Glyndŵr

This is the text of the Cymmrodorion Lecture delivered at the National Eisteddfod in Meifod in 2015, the 600th anniversary of the presumed death of Owain Glyndŵr. The article focuses on how Glyndŵr was remembered in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Starting with a survey of early historians who showed an interest in the rebel leader, including David Powel in the sixteenth century and Thomas Pennant in the eighteenth century, the article shows how the figure of Owain Glyndŵr was first fashioned as a national hero and then co-opted as part of the war effort during the First World War. In 1915, the year of the 500th anniversary, ambitious plans for memorial celebrations were disrupted by the war, but a pamphlet describing Glyndŵr’s achievements was published and distributed to all schools in Wales, utilizing a rhetoric of medieval chivalry that resonated with Welsh and British patriotism during the war. Events such as the founding of a national university for Wales were seen as realizations of Glyndŵr’s political visions for an independent Wales. By the year 2000, the anniversary of the start of the Glyndŵr rebellion in 1400, the establishment of the National Assembly for Wales and the return of the Pennal letter from Paris to the National Library of Wales were seen as fitting tributes to the memory of Owain Glyndŵr.

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