Early Welsh

Early Welsh

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Historical Overview Section

Post Roman Wales up to 1100AD

When the Foederate Roman garrison of Britain was withdrawn in 410, Wales reverted to a series of independant states with varying degrees of Roman influence still in evidence and also waves of Irish colonization in Dyfed. Wales had by this time become Christian, and the "age of the saints" (approximately 500–700) was marked by the establishment of monastic settlements throughout the country including that of the Patron Saint, Saint David. The Early Anglo Saxons who de-facto pushed out the Foederate Romans were unable to make many inroads into Wales however at the Battle of Chester in 616, the forces of Powys and other Celtic (non-Welsh) allied kingdoms were defeated by the Northumbrians under Aethelfrith, cutting the links between the Welsh and what were to become the Later Scots Irish kingdoms.

Wales itself remained divided with the largest kingdom being Gwynedd in the North West and Powys in the East. Gwynedd was the most powerful of these kingdoms in the 6th century and 7th century, under rulers such as Maelgwn Gwynedd and Cadwallon ap Cadfan who in alliance with Penda of Mercia was able to lead his armies as far as Northumbria and control it for a period. Following Cadwallon's death in battle the following year, his successor Cadafael ap Cynfeddw also allied himself with Penda against Northumbria but thereafter Gwynedd, like the other Welsh kingdoms, was mainly engaged in defensive warfare against the growing power of Mercia who wished to reintroduce adequate numbers of vowels into the Welsh language. Powys as the easternmost of the major kingdoms of Wales came under the most pressure from the Middle Anglo Saxon kingdoms of the English in Cheshire, Shropshire and Herefordshire and the ancient capital of Powys, Pengwern, has been often identified as modern Shrewsbury. The construction of the earthwork known as Offa's Dyke (usually attributed to Offa, King of Mercia in the 8th century) may have marked an agreed border between Welsh and Middle Anglo Saxon kingdoms. Or it may just have been a rather unlikely looking natural hill.

The fragmented nature of Wales was almost guaranteed due to the inheritance system of the time where all sons received an equal share of their father's property although for actual kingdoms there was provision for an edling (or heir) to the kingdom to be chosen, usually by the king. Any son, legitimate or illegitimate, could be chosen as edling and there were frequently disappointed candidates prepared to challenge the chosen heir! The first to rule a considerable part of Wales was Rhodri Mawr (Rhodri The Great), originally king of Gwynedd during the 9th century who was able to extend his rule to Powys and Ceredigion. On his death his realms were divided between his sons. Rhodri's grandson, Hywel Dda (Hywel the Good), formed the kingdom of Deheubarth by joining smaller kingdoms in the southwest and had extended his rule to most of Wales by 942. Hywel followed a policy of peace with the Middle Anglo Saxon English. On his death in 949 his sons were able to keep control of Deheubarth but lost Gwynedd to the traditional dynasty of this kingdom. Wales was now coming under increasing attack by Viking raiders, particularly Danish raids in the period between 950 and 1000. Gruffydd ap Llywelyn was the next ruler to be able to unite most of the Welsh kingdoms under his rule. Originally king of Gwynedd, by 1055 he was ruler of almost all of Wales and had annexed parts of England around the border. However, he was defeated by Anglo Danish Harold Godwinson in 1063 and killed by his own men. His territories were again divided into the traditional kingdoms.

At the time of the Norman conquest of England in 1066, the dominant ruler in Wales was Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, king of Gwynedd and Powys. The Normans were however succesful in subjugating the country, first in the south where they overran Gwent before 1070, and this accelerated after the killing of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn in 1075 which led to a rather unhelpful civil war in Wales and gave the Normans an opportunity to seize the lot. In 1081 Gruffydd ap Cynan, who had just won the throne of Gwynedd from Trahaearn ap Caradog at the Battle of Mynydd Carn was enticed to a meeting with the Earl of Chester and Earl of Shrewsbury and promptly seized and imprisoned, leading to the seizure of much of Gwynedd by the Normans. William the Conqueror advanced into Dyfed founding castles and mints at St David's and Cardiff. When Rhys ap Tewdwr of Deheubarth was killed in 1093 in Brycheiniog the Norman conquest of Wales appeared virtually complete.

In 1094 however there was a general Welsh revolt against Norman rule and what the Welsh felt to be an excessive use of vowels in the (Norman)) tongue, and gradually territories were won back. Gruffydd ap Cynan was eventually able to build a strong kingdom in Gwynedd. His son, Owain Gwynedd, allied with Gruffydd ap Rhys of Deheubarth won a crushing victory over the Normans at the Battle of Crug Mawr in 1136 and annexed Ceredigion. Owain followed his father on the throne of Gwynedd the following year and ruled until his death in 1170. He was able to profit from disunity in England, where Stephen of Blois and the Empress "Waltzing" Matilda were engaged in a struggle for the throne, to extend the borders of Gwynedd further east than ever before!

Using the army in FoG

  • An army consisting mainly of Protected or unprotected Light Spear Swordsmen initially appears to have little to recommend it other than numbers and unpronouncable names for its generals.
  • An inspired commander and the maximum 12 cavalry however gives you a reasonable stab at getting your choice of terrain, and covering the table with hills or forests to hide your troops in and attempt to engineer flank attacks on any unsuspecting and generously incompetent enemies.
  • The 12 Superior Vodatini warriors looks to be a must-have option, and possibly other allied contingents may be of use as well.

UK Tournament Results with this army

User-contributed links about this army:


  • Norse Irish - Heavy weapon armed foot go a long way to making up for the lack of decent armour in the main army, so worth considering
  • Saxon Middle Anglo Saxon - a solid line of armoured Offensive Spearmen again looks like a good force to use to create an anvil for your own troops to exploit the flanks of as the enemy attack you
  • Saxon Anglo Danish - as above, but not quite as many of them as before.
  • Viking Much the same again

15mm Manufacturers supplying figures for this army

For most of the armies in Wolves from The Sea little evidence exists on troop appearance, and a largely irregular look would have been in fashion anyway. So, feel free to go off piste and pick from the following ranges
You can see some of the figures in the Ancients Photo Gallery also on this site

Image Image Image Image

Core Troops

Which troops are absolutely needed for this army, and what are your thoughts on how to organise, paint and buy them.

Army Lists

Sample army lists for this army

Name of Army / Date

  • Using asterisks inthe edit mode creates a bulleted list in the actual site
  • This is a lot easier to do than easier than setting up tables
  • For FoG I suggest listing your army in order or march
  • with troop desctiptions on each line, for example
  • 4 HF Armoured Average Drilled Impact Foot Swordsmen
  • 8 LG Undrilled Unarmoured Poor Bowen
  • Dont forget to include your Generals !!!

Include any notes you want here, including comments on how to use - or play against - the army.

Remember to leave a line before you copy the above section as a template for your own list

eBay Listings

UK Bookstore

Created by admin. Last Modification: Tuesday 12 of November, 2019 18:58:45 GMT by admin. (Version 11)
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