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Rhonwen y Llysieuyddes's Persona Story

From my very first contact with the SCA, I knew I wanted to have a Welsh persona. Since I was a botany major in college, I decided to be an herbalist in the SCA (never knowing at the time that heraldry would eat my SCA life and allow little time for herbalism). So I pulled the word "llysieuydd," meaning "herbalist," out of a Welsh dictionary and blithely picked a name that hardly anyone can pronounce.

In the third (December A.S. XII) issue of the Shire of am Mor Salann Fasach's newsletter, The Questing Quill, we began a series of persona stories. I don't remember how I came to be the one to inaugurate the practice, but here's my persona story as published then.

Rhonwen y Llysieuydd, My Life

I am Rhonwen y Llysieuydd, Cornette (Herald) to the Shire of am Mor Salann Fasach. I would like to tell you a bit about myself and my family.

My grandmother, Gwenonwy ferch Dedwydd, lived in Dinbych (Denbigh) in the area near Glyndyfrdwy, in North Wales. She became pregnant out of wedlock, the father being Owain ap Gryffydd, also known as Glyn Dwr. My mother, Angharad, was born of this union, in the year 1379.

Gwenonwy and her husband remained in close contact with Owain Glyn Dwr, or Glendower as the Saesnaeg (English) called him, and Angharad met Cenydd ap Huw, my father, at Glendower's home, Sycharth. They were married in 1398 and I was born the next year.

This was a time of great unrest. When I was scarce one year old Glendower attacked his neighbor, Reginald Grey of Ruthin, because of the wrongs de Gray had done him. The Welsh people, with their desire for independence, took this as a signal for an uprising, and the Welsh rebellion was begun.

Both my parents and grandparents were close to Glendower, and I spent my early years in his Court. He proclaimed himself Prince of Wales in 1402, and by 1405 had freed most of Wales from the English. But then his fortune and his cause took a turn for the worse.

My father, fighting in Glendower's army, was killed and my grandfather taken prisoner and I know not what happened to him. Sycharth was burned early in the war and my mother and I retreated to my father's manor in the hills. There we waited out the war with little news and some deprivation. The rebellion was put down completely by the time I was 16, but those of us who supported Glendower and indeed, the Welsh people as a whole, suffered under the restrictive English rule.

I grew up with memories of better times, living in the uplands with my mother and subsisting as best we could. I learned much that most girls do not know--reading and writing--as my mother knew them and taught me. It was at this time that I chose my name "Llysieuydd" or "Herbalist," for I did learn much about the plants that grew in our isolated area. And it was better, as I grew older, not to have the name of Rhonwen ferch Cenydd ap Huw, for he was known as an avid supporter of Owain's.

However, times have brightened somewhat. My grandfather returned, pardoned by Henry V, and we once more enjoy some of the prosperity that was ours when I was small, and the companionship of others of our high blood.

My grandfather taught me the art of Heraldry, never dreaming that I might someday put it to good use. And to help me in finding a worthy companion he did send me from the lonely reaches of his uplands manor to the congenial company of the Shire of am Mor Salann Fasach. The Shire, having need of the services of a herald, learned of my knowledge and, to my surprise, I obtained that position. I am now ready to serve you in my capacity of herald and remain,
     Your servant,
     Rhonwen y Llysieuydd

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E-mail Meistres Rhonwen at julia.west@REMOVETHIS.sff.net.

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since 1 Feb 2004

Last update 1 Feb 2004