Madoc - IntroductionMyth or Truth: Introduction
Myth or Truth: Evidence from the medieval period
Myth or Truth: Evidence from after 1500
The tale of Prince Madoc is one of the most romantic legends ever to come out of Wales. It was believed to be true for some centuries, during which time it inspired a number of intrepid explorers to venture out in search of the long-lost tribe of "Welsh Indians."
The 'classic' version of the Madoc myth goes like this :
Madoc, or Madog, was the illegitimate son of Owain Gwynedd, the powerful Prince who ruled North Wales from 1137 to 1170. Owain had many sons by various women and following his death in 1170 bitter and competitive fighting broke out between these rival claimants to the throne. Madoc, a peace loving seafarer, soon grew tired of the infighting of his siblings and decided to leave his home and sail to the west. After a long sea passage he discovered a bountiful land and leaving a number of his party to establish a colony he returned to Gwynedd and reported his findings. Following this he gathered together a band of willing settlers and returned to this new land which was later to be called America.
The legend later grew in detail, with additional elements being added onto the original story. In particular, the legend grew that Madoc's second expedition had established a settlement somewhere along the Gulf of Mexico and that his followers had intermixed with the indigenous peoples of that region. This tribe of half-Welsh Indians later migrated far into the North American heartland and they continued to flourish there whilst retaining strong traces of their Welsh culture and heritage.
Unfortunately for believers of the story, the main foundations of the story were undermined by a Welsh researcher in 1858. Thomas Stephens' essay thoroughly demolished the tales that had grown up around Madoc and showed that they had very little basis in fact.
But could the legend have some basis in truth?
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