Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1198, took place The Battle of Painscastle.

In the 12th century, King John found himself at odds with his barons. In England the barons had risen against him and forced him to sign the Magna Carta. In Wales, the nobility were rebelling in the hope of setting up a Welsh Prince to depose him. The king was determined to resist them. In 1195, he sent his placeman William de Braos to capture the strategic Painscastle in the centre of Wales, hoping to crush all rebellion from within Wales. William de Braos took the castle but, in 1198 Gwenwynwyn ab Owain of Powys raised a large army to besiege it.

On 12th August 1198, Lord William took his men from the safety of the castle and fought a pitched battle against the blockading army. Not only did he defeat them, but he followed up by chasing and killing enemy soldiers who fled after the battle. He took no prisoners but slaughtered over 3,000 men, in the bloodiest massacre in Welsh history. The River Bachawy ran red with blood from the slaughter.

Lord William earned the fear and loathing of the Welsh people because of his cruelty and became known as the ‘Ogre of Abergavenny’. In 1208, he fell out with king after suggesting, truthfully, that John had murdered his own nephew, Prince Arthur, and was forced to flee the kingdom. Lord William's wife, Maud, and his son were imprisoned in Corfe Castle, and put in a cell with only a piece of raw bacon and a sheaf of wheat to sustain them. When the cell door was opened after 11 days, mother and son were found dead. It appeared that the boy had died first and, that in the anguish of starvation, Maud had eaten the flesh of her son. Lord William’s other son, William the Younger, succeeded his father as Lord of Brycheiniog, but in 1230, was caught in the bedchamber of Lord Llywelyn Gwynedd, with Llywelyn's wife, daughter of the king of England. Llywelyn had William publicly hanged in the marshland of Aber Garth Celyn, the spot remembered as Gwern y Grog, 'The Hanging Marsh'.

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