Gruffydd ap Rhys

For Rhys ap Gruffydd, known as The Lord Rhys (1132–1197), see Rhys ap Gruffydd.

Gruffydd ap Rhys (c. 1081 – 1137)[1] was Prince of Deheubarth, in Wales. His sister was the Princess Nest ferch Rhys.

Early life

Gruffydd was born in Llandeilo. Following the death of his father Rhys ap Tewdwr in 1093, Deheubarth was taken over by the Normans, and Gruffydd spent much of his early years in exile in Ireland.

In 1113 Gruffydd visited Gruffudd ap Cynan, Prince of Gwynedd, at their family seat at Aberffraw on Ynys Môn. The Prince of Gwynedd owed an honour debt to the House of Dinefŵr, as Gruffydd's father, Rhys ap Tewdwr, had aided Gruffudd ap Cynan in his own bid to reclaim Gwynedd from rivals in 1081. In Aberffraw, Gruffydd ap Tewdwr met Gwenllian, the beautiful youngest daughter of Gwynedd's prince. After a brief courtship the couple eloped, with Gwenllian joining Gruffydd ap Rhys on his military campaigns.

After several years, Gruffydd was able to raise enough men to attack a number of Norman castles and towns with some success. However an attack on Aberystwyth was defeated and Gruffydd's army dispersed.

Gruffydd came to terms with King Henry I of England and was allowed to rule a portion of his father's kingdom, the Cantref Mawr, although he was soon under pressure from the Normans again and was forced to flee to Ireland for a period in 1127.


In 1136 Gruffydd joined Owain Gwynedd and Cadwaladr, the sons of Gruffudd ap Cynan of Gwynedd, in a rebellion against Norman rule. While Gruffydd was away from home, his wife Gwellian raised an army and attacked the Norman castle of Kidwelly, but was defeated and killed.

Gruffydd himself with Owain and Cadwaladr gained a crushing victory over the Normans at Crug Mawr near Cardigan the same year.

Death and succession

In 1137 Gruffydd gained further success in Dyfed, but died shortly afterwards in uncertain circumstances.

Gruffydd had four sons by Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd: Maredudd, Rhys, Morgan, and Maelgwn. He also had two older sons from a previous marriage: Anarawd and Cadell, and at least three daughters: Gwladus, Elizabeth, and Nest. He was followed by his eldest son, Anarawd. Of his other sons, Cadell, Maredydd, and Rhys (later known as The Lord Rhys) all ruled Deheubarth in turn.


Preceded by
Rhys ap Tewdwr
Prince of Deheubarth
Succeeded by
Anarawd ap Gruffydd
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