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Tuesday, April 6, 1999 Published at 17:59 GMT 18:59 UK


Conquest and union

Wales was drawn into political union with England in the 1500s

The new Welsh Assembly will see the first measure of self rule return to Wales since the 13th century.

The English King Edward I defeated the last independent Welsh princedoms more than 700 years ago in 1283.

His military victory over the Welsh ended the gradual incursions into Welsh territory from the east since Norman times putting Wales firmly under English control.

Rebellion

But English rule was not accepted without bloodshed.

Following the chaos caused by Henry IV's seizure of the English crown from his cousin Richard II the Welsh nobleman Owain Glyndwr seriously challenged the rule of the new king.

Within a year of Henry's succession in 1400 a violent struggle for Welsh independence had broken out.

By 1404, with most of Wales under his control Glyndwr set up the first independent Welsh Parliament.

But by the end of the decade the king's son Prince Hal and his sizeable army of 4,000 soldiers turned the tides of war.

Glyndwr's skilful guerrilla campaign against the English failed. It was to be the last serious armed attempt at breaking English rule.

Union

Within a 150 years the English domination of Wales was formalised. Henry VIII passed two acts of Union in 1536 and 1543.

English laws and administrative systems phased out all things Welsh. The Welsh language also faced serious inroads from English.

Welsh nationalism was profoundly affected by these changes.

The destruction of native Welsh structures and institutions made a closer union between the two countries inevitable.

Next page: Home rule and disestablishment



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