Page images
[graphic][merged small][merged small]


"A friendless warfare! lingering long,
Through weary day and weary year,
A wild and many-weaponed throng,
Fighting in front, in flank, in rear."

CAERGWRLE is now a place of no importance. It is a deserted village, with a church a mile distant, and presenting no feature except its picturesque beauty to attract a visitor. But in old days it was a place of great consequence. It was used as a military port by the Romans, and here it was that Camden discovered the tiles inscribed with the letters LEGIO XX. This agrees with the name of the town, which signifies the City of the Great Legim. Other Roman remains plainly point to an occupation of the town by our first invaders. The Castle, which is admirably situated for defence on a lofty eminence, is now in ruins. It was held by the Welsh princes for many a long year, and successfully held out against repeated attacks, but fell at last beneath the strong hand of the first Edward.

No prince of the Norman or Plantagenet line was more ambitious than Edward the First. But instead of expending his strength in foreign warfare, he chiefly directed his attention to the conquest of this island, and the consolidation of his government over it all. Scotland and Wales were separate and independent nations, and to subdue these and add them to his own was the object of his proud desire. In Scotland he failed, but in Wales was successful, the long and gallant stand which the mountaineers had made for their liberty, being brought to a close beneath the overwhelming forces of the invader. Edward had long been making his preparations for conquest, and waited but for the opportunity of accomplishing his design. After the feast of Easter, 1277, he marched with a strong army towards Chester; at Midsummer crossed the Dee, and seized upon two castles, which he garrisoned and fortified. His fleet meanwhile skirted the coast, and blockaded every port, so as to prevent the Prince Llewellyn from receiving either supplies or assistance of any kind. The Welsh were gradually driven to the mountains, and as the winter approached, their sufferings became intense. Famine-sharper than the sword-compelled Llewellen to surrender, and a treaty, harsh and oppressive in the extreme, was signed at Rhuddlan Castle. By this treaty, Llewellyn ceded his whole Principality, with the exception of the Isle of Anglesea, agreed

[blocks in formation]

to pay fifty thousand pounds, to do homage to Edward, to render hostage for good behaviour, and to offer an annual tribute of a thousand marks. Had Llewellyn really desired to keep to these conditions, they were beyond his power; for his country and people were far too poor to render a tithe of the sum promised, besides he had been driven into concessions against which his proud spirit revolted. Edward had anticipated such revolt, and on its first outbreak death and desolation spread over the land. Caergwrle was besieged by the English forces, and taken after a long and obstinate resistance. Looking at its mutilated round tower, and the crumbling fragments of its ancient masonry, it is difficult to realize the idea of its withstanding a siege. It held out, however, for a fortnight, and then the garrison, more starved than beaten, surrendered, and the English King made a present of the Castle to his wife, Queen Eleanor. It was shortly afterwards set on fire, and the interior entirely consumed. Although restored some years later, it was no longer a place of importance, and was gradually permitted to fall into decay.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »