Blood, gore and betrayal, power, love and progeniture - this journey through the Middle Ages brings the Welsh princes to life.
Tywysogion sheds light on the lives of Hywel Dda, Gruffudd ap Cynan, Owain Gwynedd, Lord Rhys, Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and Owain Glyndwr, with the help of CGI reconstructions of their castles and courts, expert interviews and on-location reports.
The Welsh princes in context…
Their story is exciting and sophisticated and is part of Europe’s wider history.
“Their wives were part of that sophisticated world too. Siwan, Llywelyn Fawr’s wife, for example, was extremely influential and it’s quite possible that her first language, French, was the language of the court. Angharad, Gruffydd ap Cynan’s wife was a diplomat and Gruffydd was very dependant on her.
Produced by Ffilmiau’r Bont, the series tells the story of seven Welsh princes, from Hywel Dda’s reign (910-950) to Glyndwr’s rebellion in the fifteenth century.
It starts with Hywel Dda, not at home in his court at Hendy-Gwyn ar-Daf, but receiving his instruction from the Pope in Rome. Hywel liked Europe very much so – he left Wales on a gap year, which turned out to be a four-year pilgrimage.
The Eisteddfod originated in France?...
The Eisteddfod is one of Wales’ most Welsh symbol, but how many know that it was an idea borrowed from France by Lord Rhys? Lord Rhys was the prince who is considered to have established the Eisteddfod tradition. In later years, it was the King of France that Owain Glyn Dwr turned to for help in battling against the English.
One challenge that faced the production crew was that there was minimal original documentation available.
“This is common with countries that have been conquered” explains Spencer Smith, series archaeologist.
Spencer broke new ground with his work on Welsh sites such as Owain Glyn Dwr’s court in Sycharth, and he says that he owes much of his success to the Welsh bardic tradition.
“Mae barddoniaeth o Oes y Tywysogion yn bwrw goleuni ar ein hanes. Wrth gymharu, er enghraifft, disgrifiadau Iolo Goch o Sycharth â phatrwm y lleoliad, fe sylweddolon ni mor fanwl gywir oedd disgrifiadau’r bardd o’r 15fed ganrif.”
“Poetry from the princes era sheds light on our history. For example, when comparing Iolo Goch’s description of Sycharth with the location’s layout, we realised that his fifteenth century descriptions were accurate details.”
As well as Welsh poetry, Norwegian poetry also proved useful to the producers. A number of Norwegian poems exist about Gruffydd ap Cynan’s (1055-1137) battle at Aberlleiniog, Anglesey.