Sunday, December 06, 2009

Forgotten Radnorians - Anni Goch

Perhaps the border village of Norton might not strike the casual observer as being the most "welsh" place in Wales, yet it was the home of that formidable femme fatale and figure in Welsh literature Anni Goch.

Anni first appears in the public record in 1501/02 when she and the bard Ieuan Dyfi were brought before a church court accused of adultery. Ieuan confessed and was sentenced to be symbolically whipped eight times around Presteigne church. Anni denied the charge and later turned up in court with four compurgators who swore that she had been raped.

It was probably this incident that caused Ieuan to compose his often copied diatribe against Anni Goch in particular and womankind in general. A poem that caused the proto-feminist bard Gwerful Mechain to reply with her famous defence of the female gender.

Further light is thrown on the relationship between Anni and Ieuan by another church case brought in 1517. On this occasion John Lippard of Norton, Anni's husband was accused of bigamy, having contracted a marriage while still being wed to Anni. Lippard confessed and was sentenced to be whipped around the churches of Presteigne, Norton and Byton. His defence being that he had left Anni because she had plotted to kill him. Anni was brought to the court where she gave evidence that her marriage to Lippard had lasted only six months, that she had committed adultery with Ieuan Dyfi and two others and that her husband had sold her to the bard. The judge was so impressed with Anni's testimony that he demanded that poor Lippard restore full conjugal rights to his spurned wife within three days, on pain of excommunication.

Perhaps Ieuan had a point after all?


Adam Price makes me want to smoke crack said...

Perhaps if she was called Foxy Anni Goch and did a few cart-wheels whilst in custody she might not have been so lucky.

kjj said...

No she did just the one cartwheel and the splits, let's have some factual accuracy here please.

Gwenddolen said...

Llinos Beverley Smith needs crediting here for a characteristically fine bit of sleuthing. And Nerys Ann Howells for a fabulous edition of all the poems by Gwerful Mechain: included there as well is your man Ieuan Dyfi's misogynistic diatribe.

kjj said...

Thanks for providing the footnotes Gwenddolen. Not having a copy of LBS's artcle "Olrhain Anni Goch" I did indeed plunder most of the info for this post from the Gwerful Mechain book.

Always a pleasure when the academics make the occasional foray along the A44. More please.