Owen Glendower wins at Bryn Glas
Owen Glendower (or Owain Glyndŵr) that unlikely rebel, won a telling victory on the slopes of Bryn Glas (the blue hill), near Knighton in Powys. His route to rebellion speaks volumes about the confusion and conflict of the period: he had fought for Richard II on land in Scotland and at sea off the Kent coast; and had probably trained as a lawyer in London, his father-in-law a judge. It is thought too he may have served the future Henry IV as his squire at Radcot Bridge . But after Richard’s fall Henry’s crony Baron Grey de Ruthyn manoeuvred Glendower into rebellion, cheating him out of some land and portraying the Welshman as a traitor for not providing troops when called to do so (though the call had been delayed by de Ruthyn).
Previous English action in North Wales weakened Glendower’s rebellion, but not ended it. Another expedition under Sir Edward Mortimer, leading a levy of Herefordshire men and Welsh allies, tracked down Glendower to his base at Bryn Glas. But the English were doubly trapped: Owen Glendower had it seems concealed much of his force, fooling Mortimer into attacking uphill. And during the battle Welsh archers in the English force changed sides, possibly by design. Mortimer was captured, and in the rout large numbers of his men were killed, though as so often in medieval battles reports of numbers vary hugely – though around 500 seems likely. Legend has it that their corpses were then mutilated by Welsh women taking revenge for earlier English rapine.
Victory acted as a recruiting sergeant for Glendower. His rebellion was for a time greatly strengthened, not least when Mortimer changed allegiance (partly annoyed that the financially constrained King Henry made no effort to ransom him), marrying the Welsh leader’s daughter Caitrin.
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