Maredudd ap Rhys (c. 1420 – c. 1485)

A fifteenth-century poet and priest from the area of Mathrafal in Powys, just over the border from Shrewsbury, Maredudd was descended from the princely dynasties of Gwynedd and Powys and from the Marcher lords of Powys (Roberts, 2003: 2). His exact dates are uncertain but there are references to him as vicar of Rhiwabon somewhere around 1440 and as rector of Welshpool in 1450. He was well-known as a poet in his own lifetime and he was also the bardic teacher of another famous poet, Dafydd ab Edmwnd, who flourished about 1450-1497. Among his poems are a number of praise poems to patrons, several religious poems (such as his poem to the cross at Chester), and a series of cywyddau brud, prophetic poems of a type very common in Wales during the Wars of the Roses. Maredudd’s elegy to Edward IV on his death in 1483 suggests the Yorkist sympathies of the poet.

Tudur Penllyn (c. 1420 – c. 1485)

Tudur Penllyn came from the area of Penllyn in the old county of Merioneth in Gwynedd and lived most of his life in Llanuwchllyn, not far from the town of Bala. Contemporary poets, such as Guto’r Glyn, refer to him unflatteringly as a sheep drover and wool merchant, but these may be poetic insults that are not to be taken literally (Johnston, 2005: 276). Tudur’s marriage to Gwerful, daughter of a wealthy gentry family, brought him the house and estate of Caer-gai where sheep husbandry presumably formed a major part of the couple’s income. Like many Welsh poets of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Tudur travelled around the mansions of the Welsh gentry, composing and performing praise-poems and elegies. His patrons included Rheinallt ap Gruffydd of Mold and Dafydd ap Siancyn, both anti-English and anti-royalist supporters of Welsh autonomy during the Wars of the Roses, and Tudur expressed his own hostility to the English in his satire on the town of Flint (Bowen, 1959: no. 23; Clancy, 1965: 166-8).

Lewys Glyn Cothi (c. 1425 – c. 1490)

Lewys Glyn Cothi was an important copyist of Welsh manuscripts as well as a poet himself, and may have been trained as a scribe in Abergwili, near Carmarthen. Unusually among medieval Welsh poets, Lewys kept copies of his poems in his own hand, and a number of autograph collections of the works of other poets also survive. Little is known of his life apart from what is suggested in his poetry, such as his claim to have lived in Chester for a time, until one of the regular prohibitions against Welshmen in the English Marcher towns was invoked. A Lancastrian supporter in the Wars of the Roses who composed prophetic poems of support for Jasper Tudor, Lewys also wrote for Yorkist patrons, including the Herberts and the Vaughans, during the reign of Edward IV. One of his last poems was a praise-poem to Henry VII (Johnston, 1995: no. 14) in which he links the new king to ancient Britain and its Trojan origins.

Tudur Aled (c. 1465 – c. 1525)

Perhaps the archetype of the late-medieval Welsh praise poet who composed elegies and eulogies to patrons among the gentry and clergy, Tudur Aled was active in north-east Wales and the March. Late in his life, he travelled south and was buried at the Franciscan friary in Carmarthen. About a hundred and twenty-five of his cywyddau survive, mainly praise-poems to Welsh and Marcher families of Norman and English origin. Prominent among his patrons were the Salesbury family of Lleweni, near Llansannan, Tudur’s home area. Tudur was one of the poets who took part in an early Eisteddfod (bardic competitions) held at Caerwys in 1523, and a number of contemporaries refer to him, in elegies addressed to him, as bardd cadeiriog, ‘chaired poet’, implying that he won the ‘chair’, the most prestigious prize, at the Eisteddfod. Many of Tudur’s praise-poems were addressed to senior members of the clergy, including Robert ap Rhys of Dôl Cynwal, a chaplain to Cardinal Wolsey.

Wiliam Egwad (c. 1450)

Virtually nothing is known of this poet’s life. About twenty-seven poems are attributed to him in manuscripts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (and later), most of them in the standard style of bardic praise-poems, along with a number of religious poems. One manuscript (NLW Peniarth 122, 119) says that he was buried in Llanegwad Fawr, in Carmarthenshire, and his name suggests that he had close connections with this parish. Several of his poems are addressed to Sir Rhys ap Tomas, a prominent supporter of Henry Tudor who fought for him on Bosworth Field in 1485.

Raff ap Robert (c. 1550)

He was a non-professional poet from Dyffryn Clwyd in north-east Wales and seems to have specialised in satirical englynion. He is also known for an elegy to Tudur Aled. His work survives in a large number of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century manuscripts.