Richard FitzGilbert de Clare (1117 – 1136) and Gilbert FitzGilbert (1100 – 1148)

These Normans, my distant ancestors, were descended from Richard 1st, Duke of Normandy. Strongbow was Gilbert Fitz Gilbert de Clare. Richard FitzGilbert de Clare was killed in battle when he was ambushed by the men of Gwent under Iorwerth ab Owain and his brother Morgan ab Owain on 15th April 1136. The spot is marked by y carreg dial (revenge stone). My ancestors Prince Rhys ap Tewdwr and Prince Bleddyn ap Maenarch also attempted an ambush in the Battle of Brecon in 1093 against my Norman ancestors, the Knights Rheinallt or Reginald Aubrey, Pierre or Peter Gunter, and Walter Havard. These controlled a large, well armed and disciplined force of Normans and others who had illegally invaded Brycheiniog in rebellion against William II Rufus (Y Brenin Gwilym Coch). So the dial or revenge may refer to this, but there were more revenges than needles on a hedgehog, there being so many battles over more than a thousand years (415 – 1485). In 1485, my Tudor ancestors took the most monumental revenge of all time, and with it the Crown, under my ancestor Henry VII. The greatest hero of Wales is always my ancestor Owain Glyndwr (King Owain IV ap Gruffudd Fychan ap Gruffudd ap Madog). In 1093 The Prince Rhys was much too old for battle (in his mid eighties), and the other Princes did not give the support they should have, for example Prince Iestyn ap Gwrgant. At least that is how the story goes. However the Normans were defeated many times themselves. The British Princes in Wales saw for themselves what happened to the English, who were over run in two years, sometimes with brutality remarkable even by our own standards today. This was always the weakness in Wales under the Princes – infighting. The obvious and manifest weakness of the English was summed up by Churchill of all people, who listened to Lloyd-George’s advice for a change – treat your minorities well. George III’s weakness is well known, a refusal to respect the colonies, a bloody minded refusal to negotiate.

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