2. Owain Glyndŵr
Leaders (2309 votes)
circa 1349 – circa 1416
Rebel leader and early exponent of guerrilla warfare whose popular uprising against English rule in the early 15th century lasted more than a decade.
By today’s standards, Owain Glyndwr seems an unlikely rebel. He was a well- connected member of the landed gentry who studied law at the Inns of Court in London. He was also descended from several of the ancient royal houses of Wales. In the turbulent times in which he lived, he was a natural leader for his discontented countrymen.
In 1400, after more than a century of subjugation to the English crown, the Welsh were in rebellious mood. Henry IV had seized power from Richard II, in whose army Glyndwr had served against the Scots. When the new king refused to hear his grievances against Reginald de Grey, Lord of Ruthin, Glyndwr’s local dispute quickly became a national uprising.
Rallying other Welsh nobles to his cause, Glyndwr proclaimed himself Prince of Wales. Welsh scholars from Oxford and building workers from London returned home to join Glyndwr’s revolt.
Henry responded in kind and marched his army into Wales. Glyndwr remained elusive, disappearing into the hills with his trusted band. This was how he spent much of the rest of his life; continually evading capture and creating the template for guerrilla leaders of the future. The success of his military tactics ensured that by the end of 1403 Owain Glyndwr controlled much of Wales
Glyndwr sought to establish external alliances, both with the Scots and the French. His letter to Charles VI of France, the famous “Penal” letter which survives today, yielded some financial and military support, though it was too little and too late. French troops landed at Milford Haven in 1405, but stayed in Wales for less than a year.
The turning point came with the rebel’s defeat at Pwllmelyn in Monmouthshire. His power ebbing, Glyndwr retreat into his heartland in central Wales. He died, probably in around 1416, still a free man and with his legendary status assured.