Monastic Wales.

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Rhys ap Gruffudd , prince of Deheubarth
(the Lord Rhys; Yr Arglwydd Rhys)

Born: C. 1130   Died: 1197 (28 April)   

In 1155 Rhys became sole ruler of Deheubarth, which was composed of Ceredigion, Ystrad Tywi, and Dyfed. Throughout his long reign Rhys worked to consolidate this kingdom and was the last native ruler to exercise unitary rule over Deheubarth.

Prior to 1155, Rhys had joined his brothers (Cadell and Maredudd) in campaigns against the Normans and in the conquest of Ceredigion.
In 1165 Rhys took control of Ceredigion and became the most powerful Welsh ruler. While Rhys cemented peaceful relations with Henry II from 1171, fighting was renewed following the king's death in 1189.
Rhys died, aged sixty-five, and was buried in St David's Cathedral.
Contemporaries were generous in their praise of Rhys, who was remembered for his fine military skills and religious patronage. Indeed he was the first native Welsh ruler to patronize the Cistercians and was instrumental in supporting their spread through Wales. In 1165 Rhys acquired the patronage of Strata Florida Abbey, which he generously endowed and where he was regarded as founder. He established a Cistercian nunnery at Llanll?r; he founded the Premonstratensian abbey of Talley and made generous grants to the monks of Whitland.

Sites associated with this person

Cardigan Priory, Ceredigion (supporter)

Llandovery Priory, Carmarthenshire (patron)

Llanll?r Abbey, Ceredigion (founder)

Strata Florida Abbey, Ceredigion (patron)

Talley Abbey, Carmarthenshire (founder)

Whitland Abbey, Carmarthenshire (patron)

Bibliographical sources

Printed sources

The Royal Charters Relating to the Town and County of Carmarthen and the Abbeys of Talley and Tygwyn-ar-Daf by J. R. Daniel-Thyssen, Esq. F.S.A. of Brighton, ed. A. C. Evans (William Spurrell: Carmarthen, 1878)

Bezant, Jemma, 'The medieval grants to Strata Florida Abbey: mapping the agency of lordship', in Monastic Wales: New Approaches, ed. Janet Burton and Karen Stöber (University of Wales: Cardiff, 2013), pp. 73-87

Bezant, Jemma, 'Travel and communication', in Monastic Wales: New Approaches, ed. Janet Burton and Karen Stöber (University of Wales: Cardiff, 2013), pp. 133-145

Kightly, C., A Mirror of Medieval Wales: Gerald of Wales and his Journey of 1188, ed. D. M. Robinson (Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments: Cardiff, 1988)

Maund, Kari, The Welsh Kings (Tempus: Stroud, 2000) pp. 102-112

Pryce, Huw, 'Yr eglwys yn oes yr Arglwydd Rhys [The church in the age of the Lord Rhys]', in Yr Arglwydd Rhys, ed. N. Jones and Huw Pryce (Cardiff, 1996), pp. 145-77

Turvey, Roger, The Lord Rhys: Prince of Deheubarth (Gomer Press: Llandysul, 1988)

Turvey, Roger, 'The death and burial of an excommunicate prince: the Lord Rhys and the cathedral church of St. David's (part one)', Journal of the Pembrokeshire Historical Society, 7 (1996-7), pp. 26-49

Web links (open in new window)

Pryce, Huw, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online - Rhys ap Gruffudd (View website) (Subscription reqd.)