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Elfael was, probably, one of a number of Welsh kingdoms occupying the region between the River Wye and river Severn, known as Rhwng Gwy a Hafren, in the early Middle Ages. Later in the Middle Ages it became a cantref. After the Laws in Wales Act of 1535, it became part of the new county of Radnorshire. However, in the late medieval period, it was a marcher lordship. It was also reckoned to be one of the cantrefs of Wales, and from 1536 of Radnorshire.

Contents

Castles

The main castles in Elfael were:

Kingdom and Cantref

Little or nothing is known of the early history of Elfael. It is possible it was an early kingdom or proto-kingdom, but the evidence is lacking. It later had close ties with the Kingdom of Deheubarth.

In the 12th century, Elfael is recorded as being in the possession of Einion Clud, with his brother Cadwallon ap Madog ruling neighbouring Maeliennydd. Cadwallon made his peace with Henry II of England in the 1150s. However, even before this his family's possession of their lands was contested by marcher lords, such as Pain fitz John, who built Painscastle. Madog ab Idnerth captured Painscastle in 1137, but William de Braose, 7th Baron Abergavenny captured it in 1195, after which the castle was defended by his wife Maud (or Matilda) until it was relieved by Geoffrey fitz Peter.

The area was occupied by Iorwerth Clud in 1215, and he was confirmed as lord by Henry III of England. Painscastle was recaptured by the English and rebuilt in stone in 1231, being claimed by Ralph Tosny, whose descendants were its lords, except when it was held by Welshmen owing allegiance to Llywelyn the Last between 1265 and 1276. Possession of the cantref (or lordship) of Elfael no doubt followed that of its principal castle.

Marcher Lordship

The lordship descended in the Tosny family, and then passed in 1309 to an heiress, who married one of the Beauchamp family, Earls of Warwick.[1]

References

  1. ^ R. R. Davies, The Age of Conquest: Wales 1063-1415 (Oxford University Press, 2000 edition), p. 469.
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