The Welsh kings and queens who ruled prior to the Norman Conquest of Wales are shrouded in mystery. Most of what we know is from legend, names in annals, and from their opponents. This book sets out to identify what we know or can reasonably surmise about these rulers, to disentangle their history, and to assess their achievements.
The Welsh ruled over large areas of Britain in the pre- and post- Roman eras, before they were pushed back into Wales itself by the Anglo-Saxons. Caratacus and Boudicca are names that stand out from early tribal states, and medieval Welsh legends refer to shadowy `High Kings' who ruled after the Romans left - Vortigern, Ambrosius, and, of course, the enigmatic `Arthur'. Venning explores these mysterious figures before discussing the kings and queens of each area of what we now know as Wales - the north, the centre and south-west, and the south-east - as well as the short-lived Welsh states in the rest of Britain.
The thirteenth-century unifiers of Wales, Llywelyn `Fawr' and his grandson Llywelyn `the Last', were contemporaries of great nation-builders in England, Scotland, and France, but their political achievements did not last. The precarious Welsh state was permanently overrun by the English war machine.
Timothy Venning studied history at Kings College, London to PhD level, winning the London University History Prize in 1979. He has written articles for the Dictionary of National Biography, as well as a book on Oliver Cromwell and reference works on British office-holders and the chronology of the Byzantine Empire. He also contributes to major biographical publications and his research forms the basis for many other publications.