A Brief History Of Wales

Wales lost it's independence some 700 years ago but still remains a separate part of the United Kingdom in terms of culture, language and lifestyle. Here's some history to explain why. 
bullet Separation from England 
bullet Erosion of Independence 
bullet Annexation 
bullet Separation of the Gentry 
Separation from England 
Welsh recorded history begins around 2,000 BC when Bronze Age inhabitants left their great burial chambers and stone circles on the hilltops. You'll have a chance to see some of these during your holiday. 

The Romans occupied the land for 300 years but didn't manage to subjugate the Celts as much as their neighbours in England where, after Roman withdrawal, the native population was overrun by the Saxon invaders from the East and Offa the Saxon king raised a great earthwork separating his kingdom from the "weallas" - the foreigners or Welsh. These Welsh retained their old language and cultural identity and existed on the boundaries of Europe for the next 500 years or so. 

Erosion of independence 
The Normans began the process of gradual erosion of Welsh territory and during the reign of Henry I (1107-1142) a network of castles tightened around the country. 

Only England's troubles gave Welsh independence a chance to survive for the next 100 years and Llywelyn the Great headed up an independent state whilst the King of England was absent at the crusades. 

However half a century later Edward I finally conquered Wales and built those great architectural glories or symbols of subjugation whichever way you wish to look at it! - the famous castles including Caernarfon and Conwy. 

There was a brief successful flurry for the independence movement masterminded by Owain Glyndwr in the first half of the15th century but this was short-lived and Wales was gradually incorporated in Britain. 

Separation of Gentry 
Henry VIII passed two Acts of Union in 1536 and 1543 giving upper class Welshmen equal opportunity but the language of justice and administration was to be English. The result was the gradual Anglicisation of the gentry beginning the divorce of culture between the gentry and the common people which was to lead to the political radicalism and religious non-conformism which so marks Welsh history. 

Copyright 2016 [High Trek Snowdonia]. All rights reserved.
Revised: September 05, 2004
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