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verable from this enviable spot. Chirk is also famed in history as being the residence of a Lord Marcher ; and as this is little understood, I will furnish you with a few hints relative to the subject, and should be happy if I could see a good history of
It has long been a question of difficulty when these peculiar Seignories and distinct Jurisdictions took heir rise. : During the time of the Saxons we hear nothing of them. The Severn was considered the ancient boundary between Wales and England till the time of Offa : what was conquered by that monarch, on the western side, was annexed to his kingdom of Mercia ; and, as a portion of the kingdom of England, came into the possession of Alfred the Great. When he divided the kingdom into shires or counties, he made part of the country, west of the Severn, a county of itself, by the name of Hereford ; and the residue he added to the eastern side, for those of Worcester and Salop. Though some of the lands were granted to the Saxon nobility, who built castles for their defence, yet they were not considered as sole guardians of the Marches. The crown was obliged to guarantee their new possessions, and the towns of Chester, Shrewsbury, Worcester, and Gloucester, were fortified, and kept in a state of defence, to repel the incursions of the Welsh. It seems to be a necessary distinction, that as much of Wales, as was obtained prior to the Norman Conquest, the Saxon
Princes obtained at their own charge, and for their own use ; their subjects not being suffered to intermeddle in the affair. The word marches signifies the limits between the Welsh and English ; and, as the country west of the Severn was put under the protection of the lords of these places, so far they might be considered lords protectors of the marches. But it was not till by grants from the crown they obtained a right of conquest, and were invested with certain palatine jurisdictions and baronial privileges from tenure and creation, that they were entitled to the appellation of Barones Marchiæ,* or Lords Marchers. They were considered, from their importance, superior to other barons, and, from the red book in the Exchequer, it appears that they were summoned to attend the coronation of Queen Eleanor, consort of Henry IIId, by the style and title of Marchiones Marchiæ Wallia, or Marquises of the Welsh Marches. This was the origin of the noble title of Marquis (Vid. Blackstone, Vol. I. p. 398.) next in honour to a duke.
The Welsh considered themselves as an independent nation, and had uniformly refused submission to the crown of England. The invasion of England by the Normans they looked upon as a contest between two foreign nations, in which, as they had no interest, they had no right to interfere.
* They were Barons in the true import of the word, according to the definition of the Civilians, “ Merum mistumque imperium in aliquo castro oppidove, concessione principis."
THROUGH NORTH WALES. · William, and his successors, conceiving that a right of conquest, in one instance, conferred on them a title to possession in the other, levied forces and waged war upon the borders of Wales; but, after several attempts to crush them, from the nature of the country and the military prowess of the inhabitants, proving unsuccessful, William, in the true spirit of Machiavelian policy, divide & impera, adopted a new mode of warfare; he issued grants to certain favourites of all the lands they should be able to conquer from the Welsh ;* invitations were, at the same time, sent to the Welsh, possessing seignories on the borders, with ample promises annexed, and a reservation of all their rights and privileges, for the simple acknowledgment that they were dependent upon the crown of England. Little however, was done during the reign of William ; his attention was taken up too much with the refractory spirit of his new subjects and the revolt in Normandy, to attend to the subjugation of Wales. Wil. liam Rufus, in quiet possession of the throne, and endued with more ambition than courage, turned his attention to his father's plan ; his views were seconded by two traitors, Jesiyn ap Gwrgaint, Lord of Glamorgan, and Eineon, a rebellious chieftain of Caermarthen. The wickedness of these men, coinciding
bana rascati * This measure, though originating in a wise policy, was grounded on the absurd idea of forfeiture, because the Welsh, in a more prosperous state of their affairs, had refused that allegiance which had been unjustly extorted from them by force, and to which, through existing circumstances, they had reluctantly submitted.
with the views of Rufus, infused a deadly poison into the bosom of their country. Jestyn agreed to receive the Normans into his territory if they would assist in extirpating his great enemy, Rhys ap Tewdwr, Prince of South Wales. The Normans, under their leader Fitzhamon, executed the task ; but, while Jestyn and Eineon were disputing about their respective shares in the recovered territory, Fitzhamon seized the opportunity, and possessed himself of the principal part of Glamorganshire, leaving only the rough and barren mountains to the contending parties. The lands he parcelled out among the twelve knights that accompanied him in the expedition, a feodal tenure, the right of which he vested in himself. The king confirmed him in the possession of his new conquest, with the single proviso, that he should hold the same as a fief of the empire. A way was now opened for further sei
The fortunate issue of this adventure roused a spirit of enterprise among the Norman nobility. The King did not fail to catch hold of the ambition and covetousness of his subjects; he laid before them the strongest allurements, and influenced them by the strongest incitements to human actions, the prospects of interest and power.
Several barons and others, consulting the wishes of the monarch, petitioned the crown for leave to do homage and declare their fealty for any conquests they might make; divers grants were accordingly issued out, conferring upon them all the lands they should thus obtain from the Welsh, with the reser
vation, that they should hold such lands in capite of the king.
In the commencement, the only qualification for a Lord Marcher seems to have been a disposition for conquest, and the only restriction the above tenure ; but, although conquest was the general principle in which this dignity originated, yet, in a few instances, we find a different ground for this distinction. Gryffydd, Prince of Powis, finding his situation perilous, from the meditated conquest of Wales, and actuated by motives of fear and discretion, submitted himself, with his dependent lords, to Henry I. agreeing to hold his possessions under him, paying the same obedience and fealty as the Lords of the Marches.
In like manner the territory of Mowddy became a fief of the crown.
The lordships of Bramfield and Yale, with Chirk and Nanthendwy, as appendages of the lordship paramount of Dinas Bran, became the possession of English Lords Marchers as follows:
Emma, relict of Gryffydd ap Madoc, being left with several sons, and not agreeing with her husband's relations respecting their education, being the daughter of an English nobleman, and prejudiced in favour of the English, delivered the two elder to the king's custody, under a pretence that they were wards of the crown, their ancestors having sworn allegiance to the English monarch. He committed Madoc, with his patrimony, to the care of John Earl Warren ; and Llewelyn, with his patrimony, to Roger Mortimer, third son of Baron Wigmore; the