Wales - Land of Song
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The History and Shaping of Wales

The Conquest of Wales
The Coming of Christianity
Welsh Independence
The English Occupation
The Prince of Wales
Wales: The Links The Conquest of Wales Wales has a history much older than that of England. Driven out of England by the Anglo-Saxons in the fifth and sixth centuries, the Celts formed a number of small princedoms in Wales that were united in the early 13th century. After Edward I came to the English throne, he summoned the Welsh prince, Llewelyn Yr Ail, to pay him homage. Llewelyn refused, whereupon Edward invaded Wales in 1277 and forcibly exacted the homage. In 1282 Edward invaded again and by 1284 Wales was finally incorporated into England.

The coming of Christianity

Christianity came to Wales in the early fourth century and Welsh churches remained bastions of the faith in the years following the departure of the Romans in the fifth century. In the sixth century St David founded monasteries throughout the country, and after the Norman invasion of England in the 11th century, when some parts of east and south Wales were occupied by Norman marcher lords, there was a spate of ecclesiastical building.

Welsh Independence

In the first decades of the 13th century Wales enjoyed a period of near total unification under Llewelyn Fawr (the Great). The Welsh began to build stone castles as bases for their forces to resist continual raiding and more serious invasions by Norman-English lords, who erected numerous castles on the borders. Some of these Welsh-built castles, notably Castell-Y-Bere in North Wales, were captured by Edward I during his invasion of Wales and he used them to consolidate his power over the rebellious principality.

The English Occupation

After Edward's successful invasion of Wales, the English king sought to maintain his control over Wales, particularly North Wales which had given him the most trouble, by constructing 10 new substantial castles. These were to be administrative centres as well as army quarters and were strategically sited to command the coast, river crossings, or key roads. Among these great buildings, which in some cases took nearly 40 years to complete, were the castles of Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Conwy, Fflint, Harlech (captured in 1404 by Owain Glyndwr and used as base for his rebellion against Henry IV) and Rhuddlan.

The Prince of Wales

In 1284 Edward I was in Wales following his successful conquest of the country. His wife, Eleanor, gave birth to a son and heir, Edward, while they were staying at some hastily built lodgings at Caernarfon. There has long been a tradition unsupported by any evidence, that Edward held up his baby at a gathering of Welsh nobles and said "Here is your new Prince of Wales." In reality it was not until Edward was 17, in 1301, that he was created Prince of Wales. Ever since it has been customary for the monarch to create his or her eldest son Prince of Wales.

The Investiture
The Chartered Prince
The 21 Princes of Wales

The Investiture

Although Caernarfon castle was the birthplace of the first Prince of Wales, the castle has only been associated with two investitures, both in this century. In 1911 George V invested his eldest son Edward, later Edward VIII, in a ceremony devised by Daviid Lloyd George, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer and Caernarfon's Member of Parliament. It was the first time that a monarch had visited the castle since 1400. The second ceremony took place in 1969, when Elizabeth II invested her son Charles as the new Prince of Wales.

The Chartered Prince

Until 1911 the title of Prince of Wales was bestowed in Parliament by the monarch, who issued a Charter of Appointment to the new Prince. There was a ceremony of Investiture, but it was held in London, not in Wales and followed the order of events set out in the Charter which created the Black Prince, Edward III's son, Prince of Wales in 1343. This Charter listed the insignia as "a coronet around his head... with a gold ring on his finger... and with a silver rod."

The 21 Princes of Wales

Although it is customary for the heir to the throne to be created Prince of Wales, it does not follow that he succeeds to the throne. Since Edward II was invested in 1301 there have been 20 further Princes of Wales.

Seven of Edward's successors have failed to become king, namely;

the Black Prince;
Edward, son of Henry VI;
Edward, son of Richard III;
Arthur, son of Henry VII;
Henry Frederick, son of James I;
James Stuart, the Old Pretender, whose father James II fled the throne in 1688;
and Frederick , son of George II

Conversely, only 11 of the 31 kings from Edward II to the present day were first Prince of Wales, namely;

Richard II;
Henry V;
Edward V;
Henry VIII;
Charles I;
George II;
George III;
George IV;
Edward VII;
George V;
Edward VIII

Charles II was never formally invested, while the current Prince of Wales is still heir to the throne. The age each was created Prince of Wales has varied considerably:

George II was only five days old while George V was well into his thirties. Every Prince of Wales has as his motto the words adopted by the Black Prince from the King of Bohemia at the Battle of Cry: Ich Dien, "I serve".

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