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Living Links: the Role of Marriage Between Welsh and Anglo-Norman Aristocratic Families in the Welsh Struggle for Autonomy, 1066-1283

Living Links: the Role of Marriage Between Welsh and Anglo-Norman Aristocratic Families in the Welsh Struggle for Autonomy, 1066-1283

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"Living Links: the Role of Marriage Between Welsh and Anglo-Norman Aristocratic Families in the Welsh Struggle for Autonomy, 1066-1283" by Abigail Cengel for Bachelor of Arts Honors Theses, Wittenberg University, 2012
"Living Links: the Role of Marriage Between Welsh and Anglo-Norman Aristocratic Families in the Welsh Struggle for Autonomy, 1066-1283" by Abigail Cengel for Bachelor of Arts Honors Theses, Wittenberg University, 2012

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: oldenglishblog on Jul 28, 2012
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01/09/2013

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WITTENBERG UNIVERSITYLIVING LINKS: THE ROLE OF MARRIAGE BETWEEN WELSH AND ANGLO-NORMANARISTOCRATIC FAMILIES IN THE WELSH STRUGGLE FOR AUTONOMY,1066-1283AN HONORS THESIS SUBMITTED TOTHE FACULTY OF THE DIVISION OF THE HUMANITIESIN CANDIDACY FOR THE DEGREE OFBACHELOR OF ARTS WITH HONORSDEPARTMENT OF HISTORYBYABIGAIL CENGELSPRINGFIELD, OHIOAPRIL 2012
 
1
Introduction
Wales and England in the High Middle Ages were each their own political entities, andeach had their own cultures, as represented through their respective languages, laws, andcustoms. The Welsh and the Anglo-Normans clashed directly after the Norman conquest of England in 1066 when the Normans began an aggressive campaign of conquest throughout theentire island of England – thus, both groups had to find ways to cope with each other. Onemethod that was frequently used as a political tool by both of these peoples was marriage between their respective aristocratic families. These marriages were utilized by the Welsh intheir attempts to preserve their political identity and autonomy against the incursions of theAnglo-Normans, as well as to gain advantages over their Welsh rivals. The Anglo-Normans, inturn, used the marriages to gain land and influence in Wales. In other words, these marriageswere meant to bridge the gap and serve as living links between two regions that were frequentlyat odds during the High Middle Ages.The purpose of this study is to determine the ultimate role these marriages played in theWelsh struggle to retain autonomy from 1066 to 1283. In this process, the political, historical,literary, and legal background in which marriages between the Welsh and the Anglo-Normanswere made will be examined in order to discover how much of an effect the marriages had in theWelsh political struggles against the Anglo-Normans. To begin, I will delve into what the Welshwere trying to defend; more specifically, I will examine how the Welsh viewed themselves as a political and cultural unit and how this affected the political maneuvers their leaders made duringthis time. Next, the literary tradition of each region will be analyzed in order to more fullydefine the relations between Wales and England and to determine how the people of each region perceived the other. As this literary evidence will demonstrate, the Welsh and the Anglo-
 
2 Normans were not exactly on friendly terms, so I will also be examining why Welsh did not allywith any of the other regions in their proximity (e.g. Ireland, Scotland, France). All of thisinformation needs to be examined in order to establish a background for Welsh/Anglo-Normansso the motives for creating these marriages and how the unions ultimately fared can be morefully understood.Ultimately, the goal of this study is to demonstrate that the political situation in Walescould not be separated from the influence of the politics of England and that any strength theWelsh gained was almost always undone by their own internal political disputes. In other words,no matter how the Welsh tried to rid themselves of Anglo-Norman overlordship, their politicalinner-workings (especially their fight to maintain political autonomy) were always dependent onthe political situation in England and their unrelenting tendency towards political fragmentation.The primary sources that will be used in this study include the
 Brut Y Tywysogion
(
Chronicle of the Princes
), Gerald of Wales'
 Journey Through Wales
and
The Description of Wales,
William of Malmesbury's
Gesta Regum Anglorum
(
The History of the English Kings
), the
Gesta Stephani
(
 Deeds of Stephen
) (among other Anglo-Norman chronicles), medieval Welsh poetry, correspondence between Welsh and Anglo-Norman rulers, and medieval Welsh laws(
Cyfraith Hywel 
). Many of these will be examined in detail when they are actually used in thisstudy, but it must first be acknowledged that these sources do not often tell the whole truth abouttheir topics, they are biased, and that much of what say is exaggeration. These issues make thesources slightly difficult to work with, but they are still useful because they reveal how the Welshthought of themselves (and the Anglo-Normans), how the Anglo-Normans thought of the Welsh,and details about the political situations surrounding the marriages themselves, as long as the biases and other problems with the texts are taken into account.

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