Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Medieval Sagas.


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Tuesday, 10 June 2014



Medieval IV - Ring of Steel

     Since Llewellyn’s death in 1282, Edward the first of England, also known as Longshanks, spent a fortune in time and money subduing the Welsh nation. To do so, he awarded lands and titles across Wales to those nobles and warlords who swore fealty to the English crown.
     To support the occupation he also embarked on an unprecedented building program erecting huge castles across Wales, the like of which had never been seen before. Each was unassailable in its own right but together they formed his famed ring of steel and presented an impregnable chain of oppression from which his forces could maintain their tyrannical grip upon the troublesome country.
     For ten years the castles and those loyal to the King held an entire nation beneath their heel and despite the occasional uprising from those frustrated by their masters’ brutality, the rule of Longshanks was never challenged to any serious affect. However, as the decade ended some of the more nationalistic Welsh lords started to talk once more of liberty and though such conversations had taken place many times before, this time there was a realism to the plans.
     Edward dismissed the threat and concentrated on his forthcoming campaign to France but as the castles were stripped of cash and indeed manpower to fuel his campaign, the Welsh Lords saw a window of opportunity. Resistance grew across the country and gradually an air of rebellion evolved into the beginnings of a full scale uprising.
     In the south, Cynan ap Maredudd, a war lord from the hills of Mid Wales, gathered an army about him and preyed on the supply lines of the castles throughout the country. Meanwhile in the North, a noble by the name of Madog ap Llewellyn claimed royal lineage from Llewellyn the Last and also set about raising a force with which he could resist the occupation.
     The move took the English by surprise and within weeks, not only had Castle du Bere, one of Edward’s favoured fortresses fallen to Cynan but also the unthinkable had happened when Caernarfon, one of the most impressive castles on the north coast, was besieged and captured by Madog.
     The message soon got back to Longshanks and though it meant postponing his French campaign, he knew he had to wipe out the Welsh threat once and for all. As the winter of 1294 approached, the Welsh celebrated within the giant walls of Caernarfon and as there was no immediate reaction from the English crown, many thought Longshanks had no stomach for a fight and they planned the downfall of the remaining castles.
     So it came to be that while Madog and his men enjoyed their impressive victory, across the border, Edward Longshanks, King of England, slowly but surely, drew up his plans.

Medieval IV - Ring of Steel

Coming soon!

Friday, 6 June 2014

Anniversary of D Day

The Price of Freedom

I never was a soldier,
so have no tale to tell
of cloying mud and seas of blood
and trenches into hell.

I didn't get the call up,
so how am I to know
of ghosts who stand on scarlet sand
where angels fear to go?

I didn't serve my country,
so missed the pained goodbyes
of men who cried as brothers died
beneath those leaden skies.

I never fought for freedom,
so couldn't understand
the metal rain of searing pain
that ripped across the sand.

I didn't have the calling,
so where do I begin
to understand exploding land
that tears them limb from limb?

I never had to comprehend
the pain of mothers' cries.
The tragic price of devil’s dice
when rolled to see who dies.

So why should I remember?
How could it ever be
that gallant dead, spilled poppy red
and gave their lives for me?

I never was a soldier,
and never went away
like those who tried, and cried, and died,
and marched so I could stay.

K. M.Ashman


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Medieval III

In 1274, Edward the First ruled England having inherited the crown from his father, Henry the Third. Across the border to the west, the smaller country of Wales was ruled by Prince Llewellyn ap Gruffydd, a direct descendant of Llewellyn the Great.

Tensions were strained between the two countries and minor conflicts were commonplace between the lesser nobles but when Edward found out about Llewellyn’s proposed marriage to Eleanor du Montfort, the daughter of his deceased father’s greatest enemy, he was incensed and in 1275 arranged for her ship to be intercepted as she traveled from France to be with the Welsh Prince. Eleanor was imprisoned causing the relationship between Edward and Llewellyn to deteriorate even further and in 1276, war broke out between the two countries.

In 1277, Edward led a huge army into Wales and captured the Welsh harvest on the island of Ynys Mon, forcing the Welsh Prince to surrender before any major battle was fought. Later that year, the two men signed the treaty of Aberconwy where Llewellyn surrendered control of most of the country in return for keeping the lands of Gwynedd and the title, Prince of Wales. Edward was satisfied and released Eleanor from prison to fulfill her marriage vows to Llewellyn and for the next few years, an uneasy peace existed between the two monarchs.

Despite the treaty, the people of Wales were still unhappy being ruled by an English monarch and especially the construction of English castles at Flint, Rhuddlan, Builth Wells and Aberystwth. Subsequently an undercurrent of resistance steadily grew until finally in 1282, a full scale rebellion against Edward’s rule forced the English King to invade Wales once more, only this time with full scale conquest as a goal.

Despite some initial setbacks, Edward’s army was ultimately victorious and after several battles throughout Wales, Prince Llewellyn was killed at the battle of Orewen Bridge.Edward finally realised the threat the Welsh posed and embarked on an unprecedented building programme across the country, including the enormous castles at Caernarfon, Conway and Harlech, not just as bastions of military strength but also as a signal to the Welsh about the futility of opposing his might.

These castles formed the backbone of his defences in Wales, an unassailable system of fortresses, each designed to mutually support each other against any threat from the Welsh. 

They were a symbol of his might, a system of invincible fortifications and in effect an impregnable ring of steel unassailable by any living man…......

                                                      ........or so he thought.......!



Medieval III - Sword of Liberty........coming soon!