Armes Prydein (Welsh pronunciation: [ˈarmɛs ˈprədəin], The
Prophecy of Britain) is an early 10th-century Welsh prophetic poem
from the Book of Taliesin.
In a rousing style characteristic of Welsh heroic poetry, it describes
a future where all of Brythonic peoples are allied with the Scots, the
Irish, and the
Vikings of Dublin under Welsh leadership, and together
succeed in driving the
Anglo-Saxons from Britain forever.
Leaders of such ventures are always given names in heroic poetry, and
in this case they are said to be Cadwallon and Cadwaladr, implicitly
inviting the audience to connect them with two famous leaders from the
Cadwallon ap Cadfan
Cadwallon ap Cadfan and
Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon. The
inclusion of the non-Celtic
Vikings and the non-Brythonic Scots and
Irish as full allies in a Welsh traditional poem is a remarkable
The poem is commonly described as an expression of Welsh frustration
with the pragmatic, peaceful policies of
Hywel Dda towards the
then-ascendant Kingdom of Wessex.
Edward the Elder
Edward the Elder (reigned 899 –
924) had gained acknowledged pre-eminence over almost all of the
peoples south of the Firths of Clyde and Forth, including the Gaels,
Vikings, English, Cornish, Welsh, and the Cumbrians. After he died and
his son Æthelstan had become king (reigned 924 – 939), an alliance
of the kingdoms of Dublin, Scotland, and Strathclyde rose against him
and was defeated at the
Battle of Brunanburh
Battle of Brunanburh in 937. Out of keeping
with their historical stance alongside the 'Men of the North' (Welsh:
Gwŷr y Gogledd) and against the English, the Welsh under Hywel Dda
had stood aside, neither helping their traditional compatriots (the
men of Strathclyde) nor opposing their traditional enemies (the Saxons
Armes Prydein is also significant as one of the earliest mentions
of the prophet Myrddin Wyllt.
^ Skene, William Forbes (1868a), The Four Ancient Books of Wales, I,
Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas (published 1868) pp. 436–442.
^ Skene, William Forbes (1868b), The Four Ancient Books of Wales, II,
Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas (published 1868) , pp.
^ Koch, John T., ed. (2005), Celtic Culture: A Historical
Encyclopedia, ABL-CLIO (published 2006),
ISBN 978-1-85109-440-0 p. 85
Armes Prydein Vawr" at the Celtic Literature Collective (in Welsh)
"The Great Prophecy of Britain" at the CLC
"Armes Prydain Bychan" at the CLC (in Welsh)
"The Lesser Prophecy of Britain" at the CLC
Bollard, John K. (2011). "
Armes Prydein Vawr". In Livingston, Michael.
The Battle of Brunanburh: A Casebook. University of Exeter Press.
pp. 28–37, 155–170, 245–262.
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