Gwriad ap Elydir of Man
(Abt 0768-0825)
Esyllt verch Cynan
Cadell ap Brochwell
Merfyn ap Gwriad King of Gwynedd
(Abt 0764-0844)
Nest verch Cadell
Rhodri Mawr ap Merfyn King of Gwynedd & Powys & Seisyllwg


Family Links

1. Angharad ferch Gwgon ap Meurig

Rhodri Mawr ap Merfyn King of Gwynedd & Powys & Seisyllwg 1 2 3 4

  • Born: 789, Caer Seiont (Caernarfon), Caernarfonshire, Wales
  • Marriage (1): Angharad ferch Gwgon ap Meurig
  • Died: 878, Anglesey, Wales at age 89 5

   Other names for Rhodri were Rhodri the Great, Rhodri Mawr and Roderick "the Great."

  Research Notes:

King of Gwynedd and Powys and Seisyllwg

From A History of Wales, pp. 78-79:

"A chain of marriages begins around 800 when Gwriad, a native of the Isle of Man, who perhaps had links with the Men of the North, married Esyllt of the line of Maelgwn Fawr; their son, Merfyn, became kind of Gwynedd in 825 on the death of Esyllt's uncle, Hywel ap Rhodri, the last of the male descendants of Maelgwn Gwynedd. Merfyn was the first of the lineage known to historians as the second dynasty of Gwynedd. He married Nest of the house of Powys, and their son, Rhodri, married Angharad of the house of Seisyllwg (Ceredigion and Ystrad Tywi). Rhodri became ruler of Gwynedd in 844 on the death of his father, of Powys in 855 on the death of his uncle, Cyngen, and of Seisyllwg in 871 on the death of his brother-in-law, Gwgon; he died in 878, king of a realm extending from Anglesey to Gower.

"A later generation of chroniclers hailed Rhodri ap Merfyn as Rhodri Mawr (Rhodri the Great), a distinction bestowed upon two other rulers in the same century--Charles the Great (Charlemagne, died 814) and Alfred the Great (died 899). The three tributes are of a similar nature--recognition of the achievements of men who contributed significantly to the growth of statehood among the nations of the Welsh, the Franks and the English. Unfortunately, the entire evidence relating to the life of Rhodri consists of a few sentences; yet he must have made a deep impression upon the Welsh, for in later centuries being of the line of Rhodri was a primary qualification for their rulers.

"Rhodri's fame sprang from his success as a warrior. That success was noted by The Ulster Chronicle and by Sedulius Scottus, an Irish scholar at the court of the Emperor Charles the Bald at Liège. It was his victory over the Northmen in 856 which brought him international acclaim...

"...Wales was less richly provided with the fertile land and with the navigable rivers which would have attracted [the Northmen], and the Welsh kings had considerable success in resisting them. Anglesey--a third of Bretland (Wales) according to Norse sources--bore the brunt of their attacks, and it was there, in 856, that Rhodri won his victory over Horm, the leader of the Danes, much to the delight of the Irish and the Franks.

"...By becoming the ruler of Powys, his mother's land, he inherited the old struggle between that kingdom and Mercia. Although Offa's Dyke had been constructed in order to define the territories of the Welsh and the English, this did not prevent the successors of Offa from attacking Wales... The pressure upon Powys continued; after 855, Rhodri was its defender, and he and his son, Gwriad, were killed in a battle against the English in 878."

From Wikipedia - Rhodri the Great :

Rhodri the Great (in Welsh , Rhodri Mawr; occasionally in English , Roderick the Great) (c. 820-878) was the first ruler of Wales to be called 'Great', and the first to rule most of present-day Wales. He is referred to as "King of the Britons " by the Annals of Ulster . In some later histories, he is referred to as "King of Wales " but he did not rule all of Wales nor was this term used contemporaneously to describe him.

Lineage & inheritance
The son of Merfyn Frych , King of Gwynedd , and Nest ferch Cadell of the Royal line of Powys , he inherited the Kingdom of Gwynedd on his father's death in 844.
Defeat and death
On his return the following year, he and his son Gwriad were said to have been killed by the English under Alfred the Great , though the precise manner of his death is unknown. When his son, Anarawd ap Rhodri won a victory over the Mercians a few years later, it was hailed in the annals as "God's vengeance for Rhodri".

Rhodri died leaving three sons:
His heir, Anarawd ap Rhodri , who became the king of Gwynedd ;
His son Cadell ap Rhodri , who conquered Dyfed , which was later joined with Seisyllwg by Rhodri's grandson Hywel Dda to become Deheubarth . Like his grandfather, Hywel would come to rule most of Wales; and
His son Merfyn ap Rhodri , who became the king of the Powys .

When his maternal uncle Cyngen ap Cadell ruler of Powys died on a pilgrimage to Rome in 855 Rhodri inherited Powys. In 872 Gwgon, ruler of Seisyllwg in southern Wales, was accidentally drowned, and Rhodri added his Kingdom to his domains by virtue of his marriage to Angharad , Gwgon's sister. This made him the ruler of the larger part of Wales.

Resistance against Danes
Rhodri faced pressure both from the English and increasingly from the Danes , who were recorded as ravaging Anglesey in 854. In 856 Rhodri won a notable victory over the Danes, killing their leader Gorm (sometimes given as Horm). Two poems by Sedulius Scotus written at the court of Charles the Bald , King of the Western Franks , celebrate the victory of "Roricus" over the Norsemen.

In 877 Rhodri fought another battle against the Norse invaders on Anglesey, after which he had to flee to Ireland .

  Birth Notes:

May have been born sa late as 820.

  Death Notes:

Killed in a battle against the English (Saxons) in 878.

  Noted events in his life were:

• Became ruler: of Gwynedd on the death of his father, 844.

• Became ruler: of Powys on the death of his uncle, Cyngen, 855.

• Victory: over Horm, the leader of the Danes (the Northmen), 856, Anglesey, Wales.

• Became ruler: of Seisyllwg on the death of his grother-in-law, Gwgon, 871.

Rhodri married Angharad ferch Gwgon ap Meurig, daughter of Gwgon ap Meurig King of Seisyllwg and Unknown. (Angharad ferch Gwgon ap Meurig was born about 811 in Ceredigion, Wales.)



2 Davies, John, A History of Wales. (Rev. ed. New York: Penguin Group, 2007.), pp. 78-79.

3 Website:,

4, Rhodri the Great.

5 Ingram, James, translator, The Annales Cambriae 447-954 (The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. London: Everyman Press, 1912.), 877 Rhodri and his son Gwriad is killed by the Saxons.

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