- Medieval Period
A last Welsh threat arose when Owain
Glyn Dwr was proclaimed Prince of Wales
and took up arms against the newly installed
Henry IV. In the battle of Bryn Glâs
(or Pilleth to the English) in 1402
a large force of English under Edmund
Mortimer, consisting mainly of the Herefordshire
levy, were heavily defeated by a Welsh
army led by Owain. Owain moved on to
make his headquarters at Leominster.
The defeat caused consternation at Henry
IV's court and steps were quickly taken
to limit the damage by improving defences
at Clifford, Brecon and elsewhere. Tales
of the mutilation of corpses by the
Welsh added horror to the English accounts
of the action.
late 14th century hall of the Hereford
Vicars Choral. This was outside the
walled precinct of the cathedral. There
was always a danger that the clergymen
would be mugged on their way to church.
The defeat of Owain's allies Henry Percy (Hotspur)
and Douglas at Shrewsbury in July 1403 did
not remove the threat further south. On the
afternoon of the 3rd September, Richard Kingston,
the sometime Dean of Windsor and archdeacon
of Hereford, writing at Hereford 'in very
great haste' reported that a Welsh force had
entered the County. King Henry appeared with
an army at Hereford on 11th September. Henry
marched into Wales but, lacking the means
to supply his army, returned to Hereford in
Owain was undefeated and in early August 1405
was joined by a French army, which landed
at Milford Haven. The English mustered at
Hereford on 29th August but no battle was
joined and elements of the Franco-Welsh army
seem to have been active in Herefordshire.
Henry V succeeded to the English throne
in March 1415 he wanted an end to the
Welsh problem. Henry offered Owain a
pardon but no answer was ever received.
Glyn Dwr's death is not recorded nor
is his burying place, but it is considered
a strong possibility that he died at
the house of his daughter, Alys Scudamore,
at Monnington in the Golden Valley.
2nd february1461, during the Wars of the Roses,
a Lancastrian force, including Bretons and
Frenchmen, was intercepted and defeated by
the Yorkist Edward, Earl of March at the Battle
of Mortimer's Cross, 25 kilometres north-west
of Hereford. One of the Lancastrian leaders,
Owen Tudor, was captured and taken into Hereford.
Owen was a high-ranking nobleman - he had
married Catherine of France, the widow of
Legend tells that it was at the forerunner
of the Green Dragon Hotel in Broad Street
that Edward stayed with his prisoner after
the battle. The next day Owen was taken out
to be beheaded in the market place (High Town).
At first Owen was unable to believe that he
would be executed - but when the collar of
his red velvet doublet was ripped off he accepted
his fate saying "that head shall lie
on the block that was wont to lie on Queen
Owen was called ‘the handsomest man in
England’, which might have inspired what
His head was placed
on the market cross where a madwoman combed
his hair and washed the blood from his face.
She lit more than a hundred candles, which
she placed around the cross. Owen's body was
afterwards buried in a chapel of the Greyfriars
priory just outside the town.
Owen Tudor was the great-grandfather of Henry
VIII. Edward (later King Edward IV) was himself
Henry's grandfather. Edward was back in Hereford
that September, by now the battle of Towton
had been fought and he was King of England.
Edward IV died in April 1483. A few months
later his brother, Richard of Gloucester (Richard
III) seized the throne and placed Edward's
young sons, Edward V and Richard, in confinement
- the 'Princes in the Tower'.
Duke of Buckingham, at first Richard's
strong supporter, rebelled and joined
a local nobleman, Walter Devereux, at
his castle at Weobley in Herefordshire.
Marching south, Buckingham was deserted
by his army, captured and executed.
His son, Edward, was smuggled into Hereford
by Elizabeth Delabeare and hidden there
until safer times.
In 1485, Henry Tudor passed through Leominster
on his way to victory at Bosworth and claiming
the kingdom as Henry VII. The change of regime
passed with little disturbance locally although
eighteen people were bailed for one hundred
pounds to appear before the new king's council,
presumably to ensure that they would not cause
trouble. In 1486 Henry visited Hereford during
a tour of his new kingdom.
In 1493 a council was set up for Henry's eldest
son, Arthur, prince of Wales. When Arthur
died in 1502 the council continued to exist
and evolved into the council of the Marches.
This came to exercise de facto jurisdiction
over north and south Wales and the counties
of Shropshire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire,
Worcestershire Cheshire and Flint.
In 1536 the administration of Wales
was re-organised. It was at this time
that the border between Herefordshire
and Wales took more or less its present
form, assimilating the Welsh territory
of Ewyas Lacy and other independent
Marcher lordships - Clifford, Eardisley,
Wigmore and others. Old and New Radnor,
on the other hand, were taken out of
Herefordshire and merged into the new
county of Radnor.
Henry VIII's split with Rome was not popular
in Herefordshire. During 1536 the northern
English movement in opposition to the policy,
the Pilgrimage of Grace, found sympathy in
the county and several people were imprisoned
in the castle. Roman sympathy remained strong
during the reign of Elizabeth I, and the local
law enforcement authorities were constantly
being reprimanded by central government for
Herefordshire was fairly lawless in the second
half of the 16th century. In June 1571 the
people of Bromyard rioted against their lord,
the bishop of Hereford. In 1581 there were
more murders committed in the shire than any
two 'thereabouts or in all Wales'.
authorities knew whom to blame - the
Roman Catholics. Thefts and burglaries
were committed every day without punishments
because the local justices of the peace
were negligent and more concerned with
their own religious differences. In
the December of 1588, the year of the
Armada, the sheriff was strictly ordered
to lock up Catholic recusants and to
no longer permit them to be 'free prisoners'.
The city seems to have remained fairly prosperous
in the 16th century. In the 1530s John Leland
found good walls around the town and describes
pleasant suburbs. The distance between the
Wye Bridge and the easternmost point of the
castle, almost the whole width of the city,
he describes as being a bow shot.
We do not know where Leland stayed when he
visited the town but we know what sort of
prices he would have paid had he stayed in
a local inn. Prices in inns were regulated
- in 1555 the mayor ordered that ale should
cost no more than one penny (0.4 new pence)
for three pints and that lodgings, with a
meal consisting of two dishes of boiled meat
and one of roasted, should cost no more than
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