By Gwenyth Richards
Eras, Vol. 3 (2002)
Abstract: This paper presents the case of Margaret of Bromfield who was a Welsh noblewoman who lived in the thirteenth century. She was the granddaughter of the Welsh ruler Llywelyn Fawr (the Great) and a sister of Llywellyn ap Gruffudd, who ruled much of Wales from 1255 until the final conquest of the Welsh by Edward I in 1282-3. Although she has been virtually overlooked until quite recently by contemporary and modern historians, she is visible on at least twenty-three occasions in extant printed court records and correspondence relating to Wales in the thirteenth century. For twenty years from the time she became a widow she pursued her own dower rights and the claims of her young sons to their inheritance. She had some success in an atmosphere and time which must have been extremely hostile and dangerous for a Welsh noblewoman. This paper presents evidence as to the identity of this woman and discusses her marriage to the ruler of northern Powys and her relationship to the Welsh ruler, Llywellyn ap Gruffudd. Although under native Welsh law women did not usually inherit land, Margaret claimed her dower rights through Edward I’s legal system. She emerges from the pages of the legal record as a determined and courageous woman who despite facing seemingly overwhelming personal tragedy managed to face up to Edward I and survive with her dignity intact.