Hywel Dda m. 950
Who was Hywel Dda?...
Before embarking on a career a lot of young graduates nowadays take a ‘gap year’ to travel to exotic places like Thailand and Australia. But what about taking time out from being the head of your country? The welsh history chronicles during the middle ages suggest that during his reign Hywel ap Cadell (Hywel Dda) went on a pilgrimage to Rome. How could Hywel do this without losing ground to another prince and what state of country did Hywel leave behind?
Hywel understood fully what kind of principality he had inherited, one that had flexible boundaries and a population anxious of Viking attack and the penetrating influence of the Anglo Saxon world. Hywel had to negotiate with the other welsh princes and the King of England Athelstan. Hywel’s name is recorded in the Anglo Saxon charters as a ‘lower’ king.
A coin discovered in Chester indicates that Hywel Dda may have minted his own coinage under the permission of Athelstan. Although, only one coin has to be found to date.
The archaeology in Wales has demonstrated what kind of world Hywel and his contempories ruled. The recent archaeological work at Llanbedrgoch, Anglesey and Crannog Llangors, Brecon is beginning to reveal that people were establishing links in trade with other European countries. It has shown the fine work that was commissioned by the princes by highly skilled craftsmen.
For the majority of people, Hywel Dda is renowned for his laws. Although, historians have proved that the laws came into force after Hywel’s reign. But some of the laws definitely have their roots within his period. These laws gave women status (which was not the case in England at this time) and some laws also continued in specific circumstances until the 15th century.
By creating a strong and modern principality, Hywel was able to go on his pilgrimage to Rome, as a focal point of his religion and also a chance to see the world outside of Wales.