Ward's Book of Days.

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What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1283, died David ap Gruffydd.

Gruffydd was the last Welsh Prince of Wales, and the first person to be tried for the crime of 'High Treason', for which he was convicted and executed by disembowelment.

Dafydd ap Gruffydd was born on 11th July 1238, the son of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn and his wife, Senana, and grandson of Llywelyn the Great. In 1241, he was sent to the court of Henry III for 10 years, partly for his education and partly as a hostage, as part of a peace treaty. When aged 14, he was invested as Lord of Cymydmaen, and as such, became a leigeman of the king and was summoned to pay homage to Henry.

In 1255, he joined the power struggle for the control of Wales. He fought his brother, Llywelyn, at the battle of Bryn Derwin, and was defeated. In 1263, he fought for King Henry against Llywelyn, but after a peace was concluded, Llywelyn was acknowledged by Henry as Prince of Wales. In 1274, he joined King Edward I in another conflict against Llywelyn.

In 1282, Dafydd unilaterally attacked Hawarden Castle, thereby precipitating a major confrontation between the Welsh nobility and Norman England. Edward I gathered an immense army, far larger than was needed for the task. Edward hunted down and killed Llywelyn and then sought out Dafydd. After the death of Llywelyn, Dafydd became titular Prince of Wales, but his reign was to be brief. Edward encircled Dafydd’s territory in Snodonia and slowly moved inwards towards him. In May 1283, Dafydd had retreated to his royal home at Garth Celyn, but found himself surrounded by 3,000 of Edward’s fighting men.

In June, Dafydd was captured while taking refuge in a bog. He was wounded in the struggle but survived and was taken to Edward’s encampment and from there sent to Shrewsbury to face trial. On 30th September 1283, Dafydd was condemned to death, the first person to be tried for ‘high treason’.

On 3rd October 1283, Dafydd was dragged through Shrewsbury to the scaffold and hanged, but taken down before he was dead, disembowelled and had his intestines burnt before him. His body was then cut into four pieces and fed to the dogs.

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