Culture of Wales

Flag of Wales (1959–present).svg
Flag of Wales (1959–present).svg

Wales is a country in Western Europe that has a distinctive culture including its own language, customs, holidays and music. Welsh culture also draws influences from English culture due to the history of these two countries, but remains distinct. Welsh culture is considered by many to be a facet of British culture, though due to the association of British culture with England, many Welsh people, particularly Welsh nationalists, would object to this statement.

Wales is primarily represented by the symbol of the red Welsh Dragon, but other national emblems include the leek and daffodil. The Welsh words for leeks (cennin) and daffodils (cennin Pedr, lit. "(Saint) Peter's Leeks") are closely related and it is likely that one of the symbols came to be used due to a misunderstanding for the other one, though it is less clear which came first.

Although Wales has been identified as having been inhabited by humans for some 230,000 years, as evidenced by the discovery of a Neanderthal at the Bontnewydd Palaeolithic site in North Wales,[1] it is the Welsh rulers of the Middle Ages who have proven to be the most influential.[clarification needed][citation needed] Building on the construction[clarification needed] in Wales during the Roman era of occupation,[2] these[which?] early kingdoms were also influenced by Ireland; but precise details are unclear prior to the 8th century AD.[3] Several Kingdoms arose at that time, including Gwynedd, Powys and Deheubarth.[4]

While Rhodri the Great in the 9th century was the first ruler to oversee a large portion of Wales,[5] it was not until 1055 that Gruffydd ap Llywelyn united the individual Welsh kingdoms and began to annex parts of England. Gruffydd was killed by his own men on 5 August 1063 while Harold Godwinson sought to engage him in battle.[6] This was just over three years before the Norman invasion of England, which led to a drastic change of fortune for Wales. By 1070, the Normans had already seen successes in their invasion of Wales with Gwent fallen and Deheubarth plundered.[7] The invasion was seemingly complete by 1093.[8]

However, the Welsh rebelled against their new overlords the following year, and the Welsh kingdoms were re-established and most of the land retaken from the Normans over the subsequent decades.[9] While Gwynedd grew in strength, Powys was broken up after the death of Llywelyn ap Madog in the 1160s and was never reunited.[10] Llywelyn the Great rose in Gwynedd and had reunited the majority of Wales by his death in 1240.[11] After his death, King Henry III of England intervened to prevent Dafydd ap Llywelyn from inheriting his father's lands outside Gwynedd, leading to war.[12] The claims of his successor, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, conflicted with those of King Edward I of England; this resulted in the conquest of Wales by English forces.[13]

The Tudors of Penmynydd grew in power and influence during the 13th to 15th centuries, first owning land in North Wales,[14] but losing it after Maredudd ap Tudur backed the 1400 uprising of Owain Glyndŵr. Maredudd's son, Owain ap Maredudd ap Tudur, anglicised his name to become Owen Tudor, and was the grandfather of Henry Tudor.[15] Henry took the throne of England following the Wars of the Roses when his forces defeated those of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field.[16][17] The House of Tudor continued to reign through several successive monarchs until 1603, when James I (James VI of Scotland) took the throne for the House of Stuart; his great grandmother was Margaret Tudor.[18]

Official symbols of Wales include the Welsh Dragon, daffodil and leek. Both the dragon and leek date back to the 7th century, as King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd had his soldiers wear the vegetable during battle against Saxons to make it easier to identify them.[19] He also introduced the Red Dragon standard,[20] although this symbol was most likely introduced to the British Isles by Roman troops.[citation needed] It may also have been a reference to the 6th century Welsh word draig, which meant "leader".[21] The standard was appropriated by the Normans during the 11th century, and used for the Royal Standard of Scotland. Richard I of England took a red dragon standard with him on the Third Crusade.[20] The colours of the leek were used for the uniforms of soldiers under Edward I of England.[19]

This page was last edited on 6 July 2018, at 14:47 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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