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Kingdom of Deheubarth
Teyrnas Deheubarth


Banner of the House of Dinefwr Coat of arms
Unbennaeth Prydain
"The Monarchy of Britain"[1][2][3]
Medieval kingdoms of Wales.
Capital Dinefwr
Languages Welsh
Government Monarchy
 •  920 - 950 Hywel Dda
 •  1081 Rhys ap Tewdwr
 •  1155 - 1197 Rhys ap Gruffydd
Historical era Middle Ages
 •  Established 920
 •  Disestablished 1197
Currency ceiniog cyfreith &
ceiniog cwta

Deheubarth (lit. "Right-hand Part", thus "the South")[4] was a regional name for the realms of south Wales, particularly as opposed to Gwynedd (Latin: Norwallia). It is now used as a shorthand for the various realms united under the House of Dinefwr, but that Deheubarth itself was not considered a proper kingdom on the model of Gwynedd, Powys, or Dyfed[5] is shown by the fact it was rendered in Latin as dextralis pars or as Britonnes dexterales ("the Southern Britons") and not as a named land.[6] In fact, in the oldest British writers, "Deheubarth" was used for all of modern Wales to distinguish it from Y Gogledd or Hen Ogledd, the northern lands whence Cunedda and the Cymry originated.[7]


  • History 1
  • Religion 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Cantrefi of Deheubarth, c. 1160.
Dinefwr Castle, 1740
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Deheubarth was united around 920 by Hywel Dda out of the territories of Seisyllwg and Dyfed, which had come into his possession. Later on, the Kingdom of Brycheiniog was also added. Caerleon was previously the principal court of the area, but Hywel's dynasty fortified and built up a new base at Dinefwr, giving them their name.

After the high-water mark set by Hywel, Dinefwr was repeatedly overrun. First, by the Welsh of the north and east: by Gruffydd ap Llywelyn of Gwynedd in 1041 and 1043. In 1075, Rhys ab Owain and the noblemen of Ystrad Tywi succeeded in treacherously killing their English-backed overlord Bleddyn ap Cynfyn. Although Rhys was quickly overrun by Gwynedd and Gwent, his cousin Rhys ap Tewdwr – through his marriage into Bleddyn's family and through battle – reëstablished his dynasty's hegemony over south Wales just in time for the second wave of conquest: a prolonged Norman invasion under the Marcher Lords. In 1093, Rhys was killed in unknown circumstances while resisting their expansion into Brycheiniog and his son Gruffydd was briefly thrown into exile.

Following the death of Henry I in 1136, Gruffydd formed an alliance with Gwynedd for the purpose of a revolt against Norman incursions. He took part in Owain Gwynedd and Cadwaladr ap Gruffydd's victory over the English at Crug Mawr. The newly liberated region of Ceredigion, though, was not returned to his family but annexed by Owain.

The long and capable rule of Gruffydd's son the Lord Rhys – and the civil wars that followed Owain's death in Gwynedd – briefly permitted the South to reassert the hegemony Hywel Dda had enjoyed two centuries before. On his death in 1197, though, Rhys redivided his kingdom among his several sons and none of them ever again rivalled his power. By the time Llywelyn the Great won the wars in Gwynedd, in the late 12th century, lords in Deheubarth merely appear among his clients.

Following the conquest of Wales by Edward I, the South was divided into the historic counties of Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire by the Statute of Rhuddlan.


In the arena of the church, Sulien was the leader of the monastic community at Llanbadarn Fawr in Ceredigion. Born ca. 1030, he became Bishop of St David's in 1073 and again in 1079/80. Both of his sons followed him into the service of the church. At this time the prohibition against the marriage of clerics was not yet established. His sons produced a number of manuscripts and original Latin and vernacular poems. They were very active in the ecclesiastical and political life of Deheubarth. One son, Rhygyfarch (Latin: Ricemarchus) of Llanbadarn Fawr, wrote the Life of Saint David and another, Ieuan, was a skillful scribe and illuminator. He copied some the works of Augustine of Hippo and may have written the Life of St. Padarn.

See also


  1. ^ Wade-Evans, Arthur. Welsh Medieval Law. Oxford Univ., 1909. Accessed 1 Feb 2013.
  2. ^ Bradley, A.G. Owen Glyndwr and the Last Struggle for Welsh Independence. G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York), 1901. Accessed 1 Feb 2013.
  3. ^ Jenkins, John. Poetry of Wales. Houlston & Sons (London), 1873. Accessed 1 Feb 2013.
  4. ^ The orientation of Medieval maps and geographical thinking was towards the east. Facing east, north was thus on the "left-hand" side and south on the right.
  5. ^ Ellis, Thos. P. Welsh Tribal Law & Custom in the Middle Ages, Vol. I, iii, §3. 1926. Accessed 1 Feb 2013.
  6. ^ Wade-Evans, Arthur. Welsh Medieval Laws. Oxford Uni., 1909. Accessed 31 Jan 2013.
  7. ^ Williams, Jane. A History of Wales. Cambridge University Press, 2010. Accessed 1 Feb 2013.
  • The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2008 ISBN 978-0-7083-1953-6

External links

  • Deheubarth at Castle Wales

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