Statute of Rhuddlan: Wikis


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The Statute of Rhuddlan (Welsh: Statud Rhuddlan) was enacted on 3 March 1284 after the military conquest in 1282-83 of the Principality of Wales — which had been established by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Lord of Aberffraw and Prince of Wales, and briefly held after his death by his successor Dafydd ap Gruffudd — by the King of England Edward I. The statute assumed the lands held by the Princes of Gwynedd under the title Prince of Wales as legally part of the lands of England under Edward I. Some of the claimed lands such as the south of the Kingdom of Powys had apparently already been surrendered (in 1283 by Owen de la Pole: see Powys entry). These territories did not include a substantial swathe of land from Pembrokeshire through south Wales to the Welsh Borders which was largely in the hands of the Marcher Lords.[1]


Iron Ring of Fortresses

The Statute of Rhuddlan was issued from Rhuddlan Castle in North Wales, which was built as one of the 'iron ring' of fortresses by Edward I, in his late-13th century campaigns against the Welsh.

New counties

After the defeat and death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in 1282 and his brother Dafydd early in 1283, the Principality of Wales was legally incorporated into England and King Edward set about pacifying the new territory. The Statute divided the Principality into the counties of Anglesey, Merionethshire, Caernarfonshire, and Flintshire, which were created out of the remnants of the Kingdom of Gwynedd in north Wales. For the first three, there was a Justiciar of North Wales and a provincial exchequer at Caernarfon. Edward I similarly appointed a Justiciar of West Wales for in Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire. However, the Lordships of Montgomery and Builth (both in royal hands) continued to be administered separately, rather like marcher lordships.[2] The other Welsh counties were not established until 1536. Only then were the marcher lordships (covering the rest of Wales) brought directly under the English government.

New Regime

It introduced the English common law system, and allowed the King to appoint Royal officials such as sheriffs, coroners, and bailiffs to collect taxes and administer justice. In addition, the offices of Justice and Chamberlain were created to assist the sheriffs.

Marcher Lords in dominion under the King of England

Some aspects of Welsh law remained in common use at a local level, such as the specifics of inheritance, and the Marcher Lords retained most of their independence, as they had prior to the conquest.

Long lasting Statute

The Statute remained in effect until Henry VIII's Laws in Wales Act in 1536, spending some 250 years on the Statute books.


  1. ^ R. R. Davies, Conquest, Coexistence and Change: Wales 1063-1415 (Oxford University Press, 1987), ch. 14.
  2. ^ R. R. Davies, Conquest, Coexistence and Change: Wales 1063-1415 (Oxford University Press, 1987), ch. 14.

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