armst.jpg (5688 bytes)Shakespeare's Owain Glyndwr

Shakespeare's play Henry IV portrays King Henry's troubles between 1400-1405. Not only were the Welsh in revolt,there were critical problems in England too. The Earl of Northumberland, his son Henry Percy [Harry Hotspur] and the Archbishop of York,began rebellions against Henry. They joined with the Mortimer family and Owain Glyndwr, there plan was to overthrow Henry IV, and divide the kingdom into three parts - the northen part for the Northumberland family,the southen part for the Mortimers,Wales and the western midlands of England for Owain Glyndwr.However the rebellion failed.

Owen Glendower is spelt in the English way by William Shakespeare. He pictures Owen as a man everybody believed to be a magician, including himself. Here is an extract from the play "Henry IV part 1"

At my nativity

The front of heaven was full of fiery shapes,

Of burning cressets; and at my birth

The frame and huge foundation of the earth

Shaked like a coward...

..all the courses of my life do show

I am not in the roll of commen men.

But as well as that boasting, Shakespeare also writes in Owen's script:

I can speak English, lord as well as you ;

For I was train'd up in the English court,

Where, being but young, I framed to the harp

Many an English ditty lovely well...

Glendower's ally Harry Hotspur constantly teases Owen but son-in-law Edmund Mortimer says of him:

In faith, he is a worthy gentleman,

Exceedingly well read,and profited

In strange concealments; valiant as a lion,

And wondrous affable; and as bountiful

As mines of India...

'strange concealments' refers to the way that Owain and his men were able to attack and then vanish. So skilful was he [using the Welsh mountains and woods] that in his own lifetime the English thought he was a magician!