Arms of Elystan Glodrydd


From Encyclopedia of Heraldry by John Burke and John Bernard Burke (1844)

Blazon: Per quarterly I and IV argent three boars’ heads caboshed sable, II and III per bend sinister ermine and erminois a lion rampant or

The Burkes describe Elystan (whose name they spell Ethelystan) as the Tributary Prince of Ferlys (the country between the Wye and the Severn), and founder of the IV Royal Tribe, which is not named. This seems to kind of line up with an Elystan Glodrydd, or the Renowned, who died around 1010. All I can find about him otherwise is that he was (maybe) the founder of the Cadogan family.

I’m not even entirely sure these are the right attributed arms – most of the other attributions I can find either retroactively assign Elystan the arms of the Cadogan family  (per quarterly I and IV gules a lion rampant reguardant or, II and III argent three boars’ heads caboshed sable) or just give him the first quarter. Thankfully, I haven’t had to see a full-color rendition of the Burkes’ version of the arms; the ermine/erminois division sounds loud and visually unpleasant. Ermine is argent with sable marks, and erminois is or with sable. Add a charge or to that and… well, I’m glad these are almost certainly spurious.

Arms of Einion Efell

Einion Efell

From Encyclopedia of Heraldry by John Burke and John Bernard Burke (1844)

Blazon: Per fess sable and argent a lion rampant counterchanged armed and langued gules

The Burkes cite Einion as being Lord of Cynllaeth in Denbighland, and the twin brother of Cynric Efell, also the illegitimate son of Madog ap Maredudd. I am equally suspicious of this brother’s claim to existence. There is slightly more evidence for Einion than his alleged twin brother, but all of the sources seem to trace back to the Burkes, so I’m highly skeptical. This is also additional evidence against the use of these designs in a truly heraldic fashion; in more systematized heraldry, there is no reason for two twin brothers to have such drastically different arms.

Arms of Cynric Efell

Cynric Efell

From Encyclopedia of Heraldry by John Burke and John Bernard Burke (1844)

Blazon: Gules on a bend argent a lion passant sable

Okay, this one’s interesting – I don’t have a lot of solid evidence, or even not-very-solid evidence, that someone with this name existed. It’s possible that the Burkes have just mangled the Welsh beyond all recognition, but it’s equally possible this was just made up. The only places I’ve found this guy cited are as the ancestor of specific families, which is… suspicious. He was apparently a son of Madog ab Maredadd (some sources try to weasel out of this by saying he was illegitimate) and one of a pair of twins, as well as the ruler of Eglwysegle (interesting spot in the former kingdom of Powys; not its own principality). This is a little more whole-cloth than the Burkes tend to be, but I suppose with the amount of almost-historical could-be-facts lately, they had to balance it out.

Arms of Gruffydd Maelor

Gruffydd Maelor

(? – 1191)

Blazon: Paly of eight argent and gules a lion rampant sable armed and langued of the second

Gruffydd was the eldest son of Madog ap Maredudd, son of Gruffudd ap Cynan. Around 1160, he inherited a fairly small portion of Powys from his father; that’s what happens when you name five heirs. He married Angharad, daughter of Owain Gwynedd and granddaughter of Gruffudd ap Cynan. (Yep, they were first cousins.) Gruffydd did eventually take over his half-brother’s portion of the inheritance, but his holdings wouldn’t really be consolidated until the reign of his son, Madog ap Gruffydd. At that point, they became the kingdom of Powys Fadog.

Arms of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn

Bleddyn ap Cynfyn

(? – 1073)

Blazon: Or a lion rampant gules armed and langued azure

Bleddyn “inherited” Gwynedd after the death of his half-brother Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, by which I mean that Harold Godwinson installed Bleddyn as ruler in 1063 after defeating and killing Gruffydd. Bleddyn swore allegiance to Harold, as did his brother Rhiwallon ap Cynfyn, who was granted rule of Powys. Their allegiance didn’t last five years; by 1067, the ap Cynfyn brothers were invading Godwinson’s home base in Hereford. Two years later, Rhiwallon died, and Gruffydd’s sons challenged their half-uncle for the throne. Bleddyn won. In 1073, Rhys ab Owain of Deheubarth killed Bleddyn and took over both Gwynedd and Powys. Gwynedd ended up going to Trahaearn ap Caradog, but Powys eventually passed to Bleddyn’s third son, Maredudd ap Bleddyn, establishing the House of Mathrafal. (Please insert the usual disclaimers about the improbability of Bleddyn using these arms during his lifetime, given the nascent-to-nonexistent state of Welsh heraldry at the time.)

Arms of Rhys ap Tewdwr

Rhys ap Tewdr

(c. 1040 – 1093)

From Encyclopedia of Heraldry by John Burke and John Bernard Burke (1844)

Blazon: Gules a lion rampant within a bordure indented or

This week, we’re going from the almost-historically-grounded arms attributed to Llywelyn ap Gruffudd to the absolutely spurious arms attributed to Rhys ap Tewdwr and the House of Dinefwr. It is a pretty common attribution, but given that the power of Dinefwr and their realms of Deheubarth had faded considerably by the time heraldry started to gain traction in Wales, I’m somewhat skeptical that these arms have any basis in historical fact.

Anyway. Given that Rhys ap Tewdwr died in literally the eleventh century, we don’t have a whole lot of information about him. He was descended from Rhodri the Great via Cadell ap Rhodri and Hywel Dda. His last wife, Gwladys ferch Rhiwallon of Powys, had a daughter named Nest, whose descendants include the families of FitzGerald and de Barry. Unfortunately, Rhys’ death led to the breakup of his lands, with his heir Gruffydd ending up with some, and the Normans ending up with a whole lot more.

Arms of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd


(c. 1223 – 1282)

From Encyclopedia of Heraldry by John Burke and John Bernard Burke (1844)

Blazon: Per quarterly or and gules four lions passant guardant counterchanged

Llywelyn ap Gruffudd was the great-great-grandson of Owain ap Gruffudd, and the last sovereign prince of Wales. Just to give you an idea of the… lack of priority the Burkes give to fact-checking, they give Llywelyn’s date of death as 1272 – one decade earlier than he actually died, at the Battle of Orewein Bridge. Orewein Bridge marked the final victory of Edward I over the Welsh, and the effective end of Welsh independence.

This is actually not as unfounded as the other arms of the Welsh tribes. Llewelyn lived right about the time that we start seeing evidence of the use of heraldry in Wales, so it’s not out of the question that he might have used arms. I can’t find any solid evidence that he used these arms, but they’ve developed a pretty strong association with the Kingdom of Gwynedd and Wales in general. There’s evidence (actual evidence!) that Owain Glyndŵr (c. 1359 – c. 1415) used the very similar per quarterly or and gules, four lions rampant counterchanged. Since 1911, the arms of the Prince of Wales have used the arms the Burkes attribute to Llywelyn as an escutcheon of pretense. Moreover, the arms of the Gwynedd County Council, until 1996, had a chief party of three, I and III or a lion passant guardant gules armed and langued azure, II gules a lion rampant or.