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Cadfan ap Iago

Cadfan ap Iago. [Not to be confused with Saint Cadfan].
Son of Iago ap Beli.
Cadfan ap Iago (c. 569 – c. 625) was King of Gwynedd (reigned c. 616 – c. 625). Little is known of the history of Gwynedd from this period, and information about Cadfan and his reign is minimal. He is known only from his appearance in royal genealogies, from his grant to Saint Beuno for the monastery at Clynnog Fawr, and from his inscribed gravestone.

Cadfan was the son and successor of King Iago ap Beli, and is listed in the royal genealogies of the Harleian genealogies and in Jesus College MS. 20. Cadfan came to the throne near the time of the Battle of Chester (Welsh: Gwaith Caerlleon) in 616, in which the Northumbrians under Æthelfrith decisively defeated the neighboring Welsh Kingdom of Powys and then massacred the monks of Bangor Is Coed. However, there is no evidence that Gwynedd had any part in the battle, so Cadfan's accession at that time appears to be no more than coincidence.

Cadfan's gravestone is at Llangadwaladr (English: Cadwaladr's Church) on Anglesey, a short distance from the ancient llys (English: royal court) of the kings of Gwynedd, and reputed to be their royal burial ground. The inscription reads "Catamanus rex sapientisimus opinatisimus omnium regum" (English: King Cadfan, most wise and renowned of all kings). The inscription refers to him as sapientisimus (English: most wise), and as this term is historically used for ecclesiastics, it suggests that at some point, Cadfan had resigned as king to live out his remaining years as an ecclesiast.

Cadfan was succeeded as king by his son, Cadwallon ap Cadfan.

Saint Beuno and the monastery at Clynnog Fawr are often cited in conjunction with Cadfan. An 1828 article by P. B. Williams in the The Cymmrodorion cites a manuscript stating that a local prince named 'Gwytheint' gave Clynnog Fawr to God and Saint Beuno, who was then Abbot at the monastery at Clynnog, and that the donation was free from taxes and obligations forever. It goes on to say that Beuno founded a Convent at Clynnog in 616, and that Cadfan was Beuno's great patron, promising him extensive lands. The promise was carried out by Cadfan's son, King Cadwallon, and that Cadwallon was given a golden sceptre worth 60 cows as a token of acknowledgment. A consistent version is given in W. J. Rees' 1853 Lives of the Cambro-British Saints (Rees' was the editor of the 1828 Cymmrodorion that published P. B. Williams' account).

There are minor variations of these accounts, sometimes with the details rearranged, such as in Rice Rees' 1836 Essay on the Welsh Saints, where he says that Cadfan (rather than his son Cadwallon) was given the golden sceptre by Beuno.

The largely fictional stories of ancient Britain written by Geoffrey of Monmouth use the names of many historical personages as characters, and the use of these names is a literary convenience made in order to advance the plot of Geoffrey's stories. One of these stories uses the names of Cadfan and other contemporary people, telling of how a certain Edwin spent his exiled youth at the court of King Cadfan, growing up alongside Cadfan's son, the future King Cadwallon. There is no historical basis for this story, as is readily acknowledged in the preface of works on the subject.

Nevertheless, a "traditional" story arose blending Geoffrey's fiction with known history, implying that the future King Edwin of Northumbria had actually spent his youth at the court of King Cadfan, growing up alongside Cadfan's son, the future King Cadwallon. In point of fact, Cadwallon and Edwin were enemies with no known youthful connections: King Edwin invaded Gwynedd and drove King Cadwallon into exile, and it would be Cadwallon, in alliance with Penda of Mercia, who would ultimately defeat and at kill Edwin in 633 at the Battle of Hatfield Chase (Welsh: Gwaith Meigen). The story that they had spent an idyllic youth together may have had a romantic appeal.

What is known from history is that in 588 King Ælla of Deira died, and Æthelfrith of Bernicia took the opportunity to invade and conquer Deira, driving Ælla's 3-year old infant son, the future Edwin of Northumbria, into exile. Edwin would eventually ally himself with Rædwald of East Anglia in 616, defeating and killing Æthelfrith and becoming one of Northumbria's most successful kings. Edwin's life in exile is unknown, and there is no historical basis for placing him at the court of King Cadfan.


CHILDREN of Cadfan ap Iago:
  1. Cadwallon ap Cadfan.


Cadfan ap Iago
Cadwallon ap Cadfan
Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon
Idwal Iwrch ap Cadwaladr
Rhodri Molwynog ap Idwal
Cynan Dindaethwy ap Rhodri
Ethyllt ferch Cynan married Gwriad ap Elidyr
Merfyn Frych
           Rhodri Mawr (The Great) married Angharad ferch Meurig
    |                                                                    |
Cadell ap Rhodi                                              Anarawd ap Rhodri, King of Gwynedd     
Hywel Dda and Elen ferch Llywarch
Angharad ferch Hywel Dda and Tudor Trevor
Dyngad ap Tudor Trevor and Sissely 
Rhiwallon ap Dyngad. 
Caragdog ap Rhiwallon. 
Breichiol ap Caradog. 
Pyll ap Breichiol (c1060-?).
Meurig ap Pyll (c1095-?). 
Caradog of Penrhos. (c1125-?). 
Iorwerth ap Caradog and Alis ferch Bleddyn. (c1160-?).
Adam Gwent and (miss) de Seymour
John ap Adam  (Adam Fynchan)
(Sir) John ap Adam and Elizabeth de Gournay
(Sir) Thomas ap Adam and Joan Inge
William ap Adam
John ap Adam
Thomas ap Adam
John ap Adam
(Sir) John ap Adams  (He added the "s" to the name, and so his descendants use Adams instead of Adam)
Roger Adams
Thomas Adams
John Adams
John Adams
John Adams
Richard Adams and Margaret Armager
Robert Adams and Elizabeth Sharlon
Robert Adams and Eleanor Wilmot
Elizabeth Adams and Edward Phelps
Samuel Phelps and Sarah Chandler
John Phelps and Sarah Andrews
John Phelps and Deborah Lovejoy
Samuel Phelps and Margaret Nevins
Ebenezer Ferrin and Lydia Phelps
Samuel Ferrin and Sally Clotilda Powell
Lydia Powell Ferrin and George William Washington Williams
George William Williams and Harriett Thurston
Minnie Williams and Clive Vernon Tenney
Mildred Ella Tenney and Glenn Russell Handy
Deborah Lee Handy and Rodney Allen Morris