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Kingdom of Dyfed

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Kingdom of Dyfed

Kingdom of Dyfed
Teyrnas Dyfed

c. 410 – 920
Map showing Dyfed, after the late 7th century, showing its seven cantrefi.
Capital Not specified
Languages British, Irish, Latin,[1] and Welsh
Government Monarchy
Historical era Middle Ages
 •  Established 410
 •  Disestablished 920
Post-Roman Welsh petty kingdoms. Dyfed is the promontory on the southwestern coast. The modern Anglo-Welsh border is also shown.

The Kingdom of Dyfed is one of several Welsh petty kingdoms that emerged in 5th-century post-Roman Britain in south-west Wales, based on the former Irish tribal lands of the Déisi from c 350 until it was subsumed into Deheubarth in 920.[2] In Latin, the country of the Déisi was Demetae, eventually to evolve into Welsh as Dyfed. Following the Norman invasions of Wales between 1067–1100, the region was conquered by the Normans and by 1138 incorporated into a new shire called Pembrokeshire after the Norman castle built in the Penfro cantref, and under the rule of the Marcher Earl of Pembroke.

In the latter days of the Roman Empire through to the early post-Roman period, the Déisi Muman peoples, a name which originates in Irish as déis meaning "vassal", migrated to the region between 350 and 400 AD. Their migration may have been with the support of Magnus Maximus, who contracted with them to become vassals and seafaring defenders of Britain from Wales to Cornwall, following standard Roman policies.[2] Gaelic became, or remained, the predominant language of the region, as evidenced by twenty stones dated to this periode with Irish ogam inscriptions.[2] One inscribed stone in Castelldwyran near Neath memoralizes one leader known as Voteporix in Latin and in ogam, with his title given as Protictoris, who claimed descent from a Magnus Maximus, suggesting that "one of his ancestors was a member of the retinue of an emperor and that the title had become hereditary," according to Professor John Davies.[2] Davies suggests that Voteporix may be descended from the same Maximus that had encouraged the Déisi to settle in the region in the late 4th century.[2]

Dyfed may have originally occupied the area that bordered the rivers Teifi, Gwili and Tywi, and included contemporary Pembrokeshire, the western part of contemporary Carmarthenshire, and with the town of Carmarthen. Dyfed eventually comprised at least seven cantrefi: Cemais, Deugleddyf, Emlyn, Cantref Gwarthaf, Pebidiog, Penfro and Rhos, with an approximate area of about 2284 km2. During times of strength, the kingdom expanded to additionally cover the Ystrad Tywi (Valley of the [river] Tywi), including Cydweli and Gwyr, and even bordered Brycheiniog. Dyfed lost the Ystrad Tywi region to Ceredigion, another petty kingdom, in the late 7th century.

During the 'Age of the Saints', Dyfed may have had as many as seven bishops: one for each cantref.[3][4] However, by the High Middle Ages the bishopric of St. David's emerged as one of only three episcopal diocese in Wales, with St. David's covering all of West Wales and part of Mid Wales.[5]

Dyfed was subject to extensive raids during the Viking Age between the 8th and 11th centuries, causing social and political instability, and with the Vikings establishing settlements in southern Dyfed.[2] By the latter part of the 9th century, the rulers of Dyfed had grown cautious of the influence of the sons of Rhodri the Great, and sought out an alliance and the patronage of Alfred the Great of England.[2] The precise nature of the relationship between King Alfred and the rulers in Wales remains unclear, whether a transitory alliance or a formal mediatization of the Welsh rulers to the king of England.[2] Historical attempts have been made to cast the relationship as one as a confederation of Christian unity on the isle of Britain, under the leadership of Alfred, against the heathen Danes.[2] However, there evolved a significant degree of coercion in the relationship, according to Davies. "The recognition by Welsh rulers that the king of England had claims upon them would be a central fact in the subsequent political history of Wales," according to Davies.[2]

In about 904, Dyfed's ruler,

  • Déisi
  • Dyfed, a Welsh administrative county from 1974 to 1996

See also

  • The Irish settlements in Wales, Myles Dillon, Celtica 12, 1977, p. 1-11.

Additional reading

  1. ^  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Davies, John, A History of Wales, Penguin, 1994, foundations of pgs 17,19, 43, Migration of the Desi into Demetia, page 52 Demetia 17, 30, 34, ruling house of 52, 72, 85, 87, and the Vikings pages 85, relations with Alfred of Wessex, page 85, and the Vikings/Northmen page 98, and the Normans 106, 112, 114
  3. ^ Williams, A. H., An Introduction to the History of Wales: Volume I: Prehistoric Times to 1063, UoWP, 1941, p 120
  4. ^ Davies, John, The Celts, pg 126-155
  5. ^ Davies, John, A History of Wales, Penguin, 1994, Celtic Church, 72-79 Welsh Church pg 118

References and notes



  • Rulers 1
  • References and notes 2
  • Additional reading 3
  • See also 4

Dyfed remained an integral province within Deheubarth until the Norman invasions of Wales between 1068-1100. In the Dyfed region, the cantrefi of Penfro, Rhos, Cemais and Pebidiog became occupied by Norman overlords. The Normans influenced the election of the Bishops of St. David's, in Pebidiog, from 1115 onwards. The Princes of Deheubarth, and later Llywelyn the Great as the Prince of a virtual Principality of Wales from 1216, fought to recover the region until the Edwardian Conquest of Wales in 1284 settled the matter. The 1284 Statute of Rhuddlan established the English county of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire out of the region formally known as Dyfed.


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