|Welsh League of Arizona
Cynghrair Cymreig Arizona
America's trendsetting St. David's Society
promotes the language and culture of
Wales and our shared heritage
throughout the Southwest and the world.
|I was going to study Mongolia for a paper I’m writing for a class in my MBA – Global Management
program, but as I was taking a quick peek at the entries for the United Kingdom in the Economist
Intelligence Unit, I found something disturbing. The Economist Intelligence Unit has made an interesting
assumption that all the nations within the UK are English, and have English values. Wales, Scotland and
Ireland are not differentiated between. But guess what - Wales does not have the same value system as
England. For that matter, neither does Ireland, Cornwall, Northern Ireland or Scotland. I draw from my
experience as the webmistress for the Welsh league of Arizona over the last three years, and my
membership in Clan Johnston/e in America for the last four years, as well as my studies of Celtic history
and culture over the last 10 years, when I assert that, in the nations occupied by England, the only two
things that unite them in the “United” Kingdom are 1) their Celtic roots and 2) their hatred of the English
and Romans. This animosity is so deep, it’s embedded in the language. Indeed, the Welsh word for
“English” is “Sais”, which is literally “Saxon”. The word for English, meaning the language, is “Saisneg”.
The word “Wales” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word “Weolas” which means “foreigner” or “enemy”. The
word “weapon” has the same root. The Welsh called themselves “Cymry” which means “companions”, and
“Welsh” is “Cymraeg” – the language of Companions.
Cymru, Hen wlad fy Nhadau – Wales, Old Land of My Fathers
Capitol: Caerdydd (Cardiff). In 2008, Caerdydd will be the European Capitol of Culture. Population as
of 2002: 3 million Main industry: agriculture and mining, and now e-commerce.
As of May 2000, a little over 500,000 people speak Welsh today, or about 18% of the three million people
who live in Wales. The total United Kingdom population is around 60 million people. Less than 1% of the
entire UK population speaks Welsh. This is remarkable when you realize that in 1300, Welsh was the
native language of Great Britain. Indeed, William Wallace, immortalized by Mel Gibson in “Braveheart”,
was a Welsh speaker.
Hanes cor Cymru – A Short History of Wales
Wales fought off the Romans, the Saxons and the Normans for over a thousand years before finally falling
to the hostile take-over of the English. Despite generations of alternating between war and diplomacy, the
English government could not coerce the Welsh to accept their rule, so in 1283 AD, King Edward I (a.k.a.
Edward Longshanks) decided on treachery and murder. The following is a compilation from the following
sources:, Cymuned, the BBC, Data-Wales, and John Davies, and other sources (see Works Consulted, at the
end of this paper).
Llewellyn Fawr and Llewellyn Olaf
The Norman kings sought to weaken the power of the Welsh kingdoms in the 1200s. The princes of
Gwynedd reacted by trying to unite Wales. Llewellyn ap Iorwerth (a.k.a. Llewellyn Fawr – the Great) had
the daunting task to trying to unite the Welsh princes against the invaders. He knew that should the
Normans and later the English succeed in ruling Wales, the Welsh people would suffer terribly, and the
Welsh way of life would die. But like Vercingetorix before him who battled Julius Caesar, he failed in
uniting the headstrong Celts. It was his grandson, Llewellyn ap Gruffydd (a.k.a. Llewellyn Olaf – the Last)
who won recognition as prince of Wales in 1267, with authority over the other Welsh rulers. In 1273,
Llewellyn Olaf refused to pay homage to the new English king, Edward I, who in 1276 invaded Wales and
compelled Llewellyn to submit to humiliating terms, including the surrender of the eastern portion of his
lands and the annual acknowledgement of fealty. Llewellyn rebelled in 1282, but was killed in battle.
Llewellyn ap Gruffydd’s brother David ap Gruffydd carried on the struggle for Wales, and was captured in
1283. He was imprisoned for several years, then awarded the most brutal and torturous death. His was the
first known incident of death by being drawn, quartered, hung and beheaded in British history. 30 years
later, William Wallace of Scotland also suffered this fate at the hands of King Edward I.
In 1284 Edward I completed the conquest of Wales and, by the terms of the Statute of Rhuddlan, it
became an English principality. To ensure his control, Edward I built a string of powerful castles,
including the castles at Harlech, Beaumaris on Anglesey, and Caernarfon. But Wales was not united with
England. The March continued as a series of lordships, while Llewellyn's territories were divided into the
counties of Anglesey, Caernarfon, Meirionydd, Flintshire, Cardiganshire, and Carmarthenshire. The Welsh
clamoured for a prince who “spoke no English”. To appease them, King Edward I gave the title Prince of
Wales to his infant son, born 1284, who indeed spoke no English. To this day, this title is given to the
infant sons of the English monarchy. In that same year, Edward built the city of Flynt in northern Wales, in
which no Welsh were permitted to live, unless they were slaves or servants for the English. A number of
such towns sprang up in Wales during Edward Longshank’s rule.
The Welsh national spirit survived English conquest, however. In the following 200 years literature
flourished; poets wrote alliterative verse known as cyn ghahedd. Bards kept Welsh oral traditions alive, and
towns and trade developed. When Henry IV seized the English throne, a revolt began in Wales, which,
under the leadership of Owain Glyndwr in 1402, became formidable. Glyndwr set up a separate
parliament for Wales,
and although Henry IV's forces led by his son (later Henry V) invaded the country and won several battles,
the revolt was not finally suppressed until the death of Glyndwr in about 1416. Glyndwr's was the last
nationalist uprising and his defeat left the Welsh considerably embittered. The Welsh supported Henry
Tudor (later Henry VII) in his pursuit of the English crown, regarding him as their countryman. However,
Tudor policy under Henry VII and his successors towards Wales stressed assimilation.
Ymosod ar Iaith Gymraeg - Attack on the Welsh Language
The Act of Union of 1536 incorporated the Welsh Marches with England. This was possibly the most
painful of treasons to the Welsh. The former lordships were divided into the counties of Denbighshire,
Montgomeryshire, Radnorshire, Breconshire, Monmouthshire, Glamorganshire, and Pembrokeshire, and
their inhabitants received all the rights and privileges of English subjects. The Act of Union (1536) was
an attempt to doom Welsh language and culture to extinction:
“Also be it enacted by the authority aforesaid that all justices, Commissioners, sheriffs, coroners,
escheators, stewards and their Lieutenants, and all other officers and ministers of the law, shall proclaim
and keep the sessions, courts … in the English tongue, and all oaths of officers, juries and inquests and all
other affidavits … to be given and done in the English tongue; and also that from henceforth no person or
persons that use the Welsh speech or language shall have or enjoy any manner office or fees within this
realm of England, Wales or other the King's Dominion upon pain of forfeiting the same offices or fees,
unless he or they use and exercise the English speech or language.”
Welsh could no longer be used in any formal transaction, and was no longer allowed to be taught in
schools. This Act was effective in Southern Wales, but there are still pockets of native Welsh speakers. It
was just after this time that the Adams family moved from Wales to Braintree, Massachusetts and carried
on the fight for freedom from the English through their sons Samuel, John, and John Quincy Adams (the
latter two being the 3rd and 5th presidents of the United States).
A second Act of Union in 1543 completed the unification of the rest of Wales, administratively, legally,
and politically, with England. Welsh representatives took their seats in Parliament. Customary Welsh laws
which differed from those of England were abolished and the use of the Welsh language for official
purposes prohibited. The Welsh gentry continued to exercise local authority in the name of the monarch,
from whom they held their lands.
In an act of frustration Parliament passed the Penal Code, which now prohibits the rebellious Welsh from
“…gathering together, gaining access to office, carrying arms and dwelling in fortified towns, with the
same restrictions being imposed upon Englishmen married to Welsh women.” This lead to the Rebecca
Rebellion, where Welshmen dressed as women to avoid paying taxes on toll roads. These men each said
their names were Rebecca. Then later, they organized and attacked the garrisoned tool booths.
Mae Ysbryd Ymladd Para – The Fighting Spirit Continues
The Welsh continue to rail against the English crown. The actions of three prominent members of Plaid
Cymru (The Party of Wales) protested the English government's decision to erect a "bombing school" at
Penyberth on the unspoiled (and very Welsh) Llyn Peninsular. In September, 1936, the three sober,
rational gentleman, all upstanding pillars of their communities, started a small fire at one of the
government's outbuildings and reported their "dastardly deed" to the local police. The governments'
decision to prosecute Saunders Lewis, D.J. Williams and Lewis Valentine, was termed "a black day" by
W.J. Gruffydd, and helped re-ignite Welsh patriotism.
"The Penyberth Three" all confessed their guilt; they had hoped for a trial in Wales before a Welsh jury,
but at Caernarfon no verdict was reached. The proceedings were then moved to the Old Bailey, London.
Here, the three accused were refused permission to testify in their own language and were duly convicted
and sentenced. As a result, one of the three, poet and dramatist Saunders Lewis was dismissed from his
position at Swansea University.
Following the Labour Party's victory in 1997 the government published a White Paper, A Voice for Wales ,
which was a detailed description of the Party's proposals for devolution. On 18 September 1997 a
referendum on the proposals was held, with 559,419 votes in favor. The first Assembly Elections were
held on 6 May 1999 and on 26 May the National Assembly for Wales was officially opened in Cardiff Bay.
Gwrthdystio gan Cenhedloedd Unedig - Protection from the United Nations
The future of Wales and the Welsh language is now looking considerably brighter. There has been a
resurgence of “Stand your ground” not only politically, but don’t let the English take your houses.
|"So who are the Welsh, anyway?"
"Why we are NOT English"
Caitlyn Johnston, MBA
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