Ednyfed Fychan (c. 1170 – 1246), full name Ednyfed Fychan ap Cynwrig, was a Welsh warrior who became seneschal to the Kingdom of Gwynedd in Northern Wales, serving Llywelyn the Great and his son Dafydd ap Llywelyn. He was a descendant (9th in descent) of Marchudd ap Cynan, Lord of Rhos, Lord Protector of Rhodri Mawr, King of Gwynedd and an ancestor of Owen Tudor and thereby of the Tudor dynasty, and all its royal successors down to the present day.
As is usual with medieval orthography, a variety of spellings were used for his name in medieval sources, such as Vychan and Idneved Vachan. Fychan, meaning literally "small" but also "junior" or "younger", is the origin of the common Welsh personal name, Vaughan.
Ednyfed is said to have first come to notice in battle, fighting against the army of Ranulph de Blondeville, 4th Earl of Chester, who attacked Llywelyn at the behest of King John of England. Ednyfed cut off the heads of three English lords in battle and carried them, still bloody, to Llywelyn, who commanded him to change his family coat of arms to display three heads in memory of the feat.
In 1215, he succeeded Gwyn ab Ednywain as seneschal ("distain" in Welsh) of Gwynedd, roughly equivalent to Chief Councillor or Prime Minister. His titles included Lord of Bryn Ffanigl, Lord of Criccieth, and Chief Justice. He was involved in the negotiations leading to the Peace of Worcester in 1218 and represented Llywelyn in a meeting with the king of England in 1232.
Ednyfed had estates at Bryn Ffanigl Isaf near Abergele and at Llandrillo-yn-Rhos, now a suburb of Colwyn Bay. These were the palace of Llys Euryn, on the hill of Bryn Euryn, and Rhos Fynach, on the seashore below it. He also held lands in Llansadwrn and presumably also on Anglesey, where his son had his seat.
Ednyfed was married twice, first to Tangwystl Goch ferch Llywarch of Menai (but perhaps of Rhos?), the daughter of Llywarch ap Brân, then to Gwenllian, daughter of the prince Rhys ap Gruffydd of Deheubarth (order incorrect?).
Gwenllian died in 1236. On Llywelyn the Great's death in 1240, Ednyfed continued as seneschal in the service of Llywelyn's son, Dafydd ap Llywelyn, until his own death in 1246. One of his sons was captured and killed by the English in the war of 1245.
Ednyfed was buried in his own chapel, now Llandrillo yn Rhos Church, Llandrillo-yn-Rhos (Rhos-on-Sea), North Wales, which was enlarged to become the parish church after the previous one (Dinerth Parish Church) had been inundated by the sea during Ednyfed's lifetime. His tombstone, was reputed to lie near the altar of Llandrillo Church, now in a vertical position in the entrance porch of the church, but this is disputed as the name inscribed is an Ednyfed 'quondam vicarius' (sometime vicar). An "Ednyfed ap Bleddyn" was vicar in 1407.
Two other sons were successively seneschals of Gwynedd under Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. After Llywelyn's death in 1282, the family made its peace with the English crown, though a descendant joined the revolt of Madog ap Llywelyn in 1294-5, acting as Madog's seneschal after his proclamation of himself as prince of Wales. Ednyfed's son Goronwy gave rise to the Penmynydd branch of the family in Anglesey, from whom Owen Tudor and later Henry VII were descended.
According to folk tradition, Ednyfed is said to have composed a farewell song to Gwenllian before leaving to take part in the Crusades. He was away for several years, and his family thought him dead. According to an old Welsh tale, Gwenllian accepted another offer of marriage. On the wedding night, a 'pitiable beggar' arrived at the house and asked permission to borrow a harp with which to entertain the party with a song. According to this legend the beggar sang Ednyfed's Farewell song and as he reached the last verse, removed his hat, revealing himself to be Ednyfed. He sang:
A wanderer I, and aweary of strife,
Get ye gone, if ye so desire;I'll have my own bed, my own house, my own fire!"
But if I may not have my own wife
Ednyfed then announced to the stunned throng:
"This was the tune 'Farewell' to my dear Gwenllian. Hence let her go with her new husband. My faithful harp, come to my arms."
By first marriage he had:
By second marriage he had:
By either of his marriages he had:
By an unknown woman he had, illegitimate:
|The Tudors of Penmynydd|
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