Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Jubilee, Grip and Eretz England

So Jubilee and Grip, a couple of ravens at the Tower of London have been killed by an urban fox.  I'm not sure why it needed a Freedom of Information request to extract this information, although we are talking about Eretz England - a state which is happily ditching its last remnants of  press freedom.

You can read the official version as to why George Osborne is willing to cough up £4000 per annum to provide bed and board for these London dossers here.  Personally I have my doubts.  After all the English are very good at writing the Welsh out of the history of these islands.

Take the Tudors, the BBC is forever churning out programmes with posh birds chuntering on about Henry, Mary and Elizabeth.   One thing they'll never mention is the Welsh ... oh they might refer to the wonder of a Welshman from the "lower orders" being the grandfather of a king but that's about it.   Dramatised versions are no better, apart from a denigrating joke in A Man for all Seasons and a Welsh extra whispering in Glenda Jackson's ear you're more likely to come across a Martian than a Cymro.

Of course the reality was far different, with Welsh folk, for example, surrounding England's greatest queen.  A. L Rowse even called Bess a "red-haired Welsh harridan"  - but then he was Cornish.

Poor old Rhys ap Gruffudd is one Tudor taff who has been consigned to the dustbin of history.  Rhys was married to that well-connected lass Catherine Howard - sister of Anne Boleyn's mother and aunt and namesake of Henry VIII's fifth wife.   Rhys got the chop for plotting to make himself Prince of Wales in fulfilment of certain ancient Welsh prophesies.  One of the main charges against him was that he had adopted the surname Fitz Urien - a name with some significance in the vaticinatory poetry called brud.

You get a clue to what these prophesies were in a poem by Lewis Glyn Cothi  to Rhys's great uncle Morgan ap Tomas:

Mae digon o sôn gan Sais
Am Rolant Abermarlais.
Maent hwy fal mintai Owain
O fewn brud yn ofni brain.
Mae'n ddarogan i'r frân fry
Grasu wybr Lloegrwys obry.

Dy gigfrain dros lundain lân
ac ar hyd Lloegr y hedan'

There's plenty of talk from the English about the Roland of Abermarlais.  They, like the troop of Owain in brut, fear the ravens. It's prophesied that the ravens will beat down the firmament of the English .... Your ravens will fly over fair London and all of England.
 
Of course all this draws on Owain ab Urien in the Dream of Rhonabwy, who our pal Rhys ap Gruffudd claimed as an ancestor.  The English - a more superstitious race than the Cymry* - would no doubt have taken all this seriously.  What better revenge than to behead Fitz Urien at the Tower and let the hapless ravens feast on his flesh.

Rhys's uncle James ap Gruffudd of Castell Maelgwn, another Welshman who deserves to be better know, escaped to the continent, where he pursued his nation's cause in the courts of Europe for a  fruitless decade and more.

So there they remain, the ravens of Owain ab Urien, their wings clipped and subject to gawping tourists and mangy vermin.  Occasionally one escapes this fate, like Branwen - "he was a bit of a brute"** - who was shipped off to Somerset for attacking the gawpers.

Surely it's time to release the ravens, let Eretz England fall and allow a new England to emerge - one that might aspire to being a good neighbour rather than the destroyer of nations.

*  If you don't believe me just check out how many witches each nation was responsible for executing.

** Yes, I know


1 comment:

Jeremy Jones said...

Hi Radnorian
I comment on your article: Jubilee, Grip and Eretz England.
The author forgot to mention anti-Welsh laws in the form of Penal Laws against Wales (1401), passed by the English parliament in 1402. These draconian laws were designed to establish dominance of the Welsh and Wales during the Glyndŵr uprising of 1400-15. It was probably the first record of apartheid and segregation of Nation and its people. This meant that NO Welshman could hold office, it banned public assemblies or bearing of arms or buying English property. Welsh children education was restricted and Englishmen who married Welsh women were also penalised by these apartheid laws. Which was NOT repealed until 1624.[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penal_Laws_against_Wales_1402] However, some statutes stay on the books till the 20th century. On the anti-Welsh laws not only the English government to penal action its cities to took draconian measures against the Welsh, one city in particular was Chester. Below is an extract from the web page of : Mapping Medieval Chester (Colonial Chester): Why would the Welsh hate Chester?
Two of the most punitive sets of legislation came from Chester, the first in June 1401 and the second in September 1403, both issued by Henry [V], prince of Wales, in the wake of the Owain Glyn Dŵr rising and the associated rebellion of Sir Henry Percy, justice of Chester, in 1403. Not only were the Welsh disbarred from carrying any arms into Chester, besides a knife to eat with, and from gathering in groups and even from keeping a tavern, but in 1403 they were banned from remaining in the city at all between sunset and sunrise on pain of death. As Philip Morgan suggests (Morgan, 2007), it is not difficult to imagine how such legislation might have led to the kind of resentment towards the men of Chester expressed in later Welsh poetry. Tudur Penllyn’s delight in Rheinallt’s attack on the men of Cheshire conveys a sense of revenge for centuries of military oppression and defeat, while Lewys Glyn Cothi’s satire on Chester expresses the resentment of a Welshman who knows he is not, and has never been, particularly welcome in the city. As for the little poem asking the mayor of Chester for a knife, perhaps it is too fanciful to catch an ironic echo here of the legislation of 1403, vigorously supported by the mayor, which denied any arms to the Welsh—except a knife to eat with.
[http://www.medievalchester.ac.uk/context/fulton.html ]

Regards Jero Jones Mab Cymru