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More than 'skimble-skamble stuff': The medieval Welsh poetry associated with Owain Glyndwr

Sir John Rhys Memorial Lecture, delivered by Professor Gruffydd Aled Williams, on 16 November 2010 (venue: Royal Society of Edinburgh), as part of the British Academy's ‘Medieval Week’.

In Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1, Hotspur is made to refer to the partiality of Owain Glyndwr (Glendower) for prophecies, which he characterises dismissively as 'skimble-skamble stuff'. This lecture explores the authentic medieval Welsh literary corpus associated with Glyndwr, consisting in the main of bardic eulogies rather than prophecies and mostly composed before the outbreak of the 1400 revolt.

The poems are examined in historical context including some of Scottish interest (alluding to Glyndwr's participation in the English invasion of Scotland in 1385). Themes to be considered will include their possible utility, both before and during the revolt as political propaganda designed to further Owain's cause.

About the speaker
Gruffydd Aled Williams is Emeritus Professor of Welsh at Aberystwyth University. He has edited Llên Cymru since 1997, and was the first elected Chairman of the Association for the Study of Welsh Language and Literature (2004). His works include Ymryson Edmwnd Prys a Wiliam Cynwal (1986), a contribution to The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, Vol 2: The Middle Ages (2005), and over 40 articles on medieval and renaissance Welsh literature.

More about the Sir John Rhys Memorial Lectures

Lecture text published in Proceedings of the British Academy, 181

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