Module HPW-4000:
Age of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

40 Credits or 20 ECTS Credits

Organiser: Prof Huw Pryce

Overall aims and purpose

  1. This course will allow students to analyse a range of evidence for the history of Wales during the age of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (c.1170-1240), including detailed study of relevant documents.
  2. It will introduce them to changing ideas and current theories and debates about the interpretation of the evidence, allowing them to engage in discussion of these.
  3. It will show them how documentary and narrative sources can be used alongside literary works and legal texts produced by the native learned classes.

Course content

This course will deal with the history of Wales during the age of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (Llywelyn the Great) (c.1170-1240), focusing not only on Llywelyn himself but also on broader political, ecclesiastical, social and cultural developments in Wales during his lifetime. It will use a variety of sources in order to investigate Llywelyn's career as prince of Gwynedd within a wider context, both Welsh and European, and encourage critical evaluation of the ways that different genres of evidence offer differing perspectives. Attention will also be given to historiographical developments in the study of Wales in this period. Topics for discussion will include: Llywelyn's rise to power in Gwynedd, and his attempts to create a broader hegemony over other parts of Wales; relations with the English crown, especially John and Henry III; developments in other Welsh principalities and the Marcher lordships; Llywelyn's marriage to King John's daughter, Joan; the prince's acta; relations with the Church, including the patronage of religious houses; developments in native Welsh law; court poetry of the period.

Assessment Criteria


The essays will be graded after a consideration of the following: the scope and depth of reading; the use of primary sources including documents issued by Llywelyn and other Welsh rulers; the use of other types of evidence where appropriate; the ability to place detailed evidence in a broader context; the analysis of the evidence in such a way as to answer the essay topic; engagement with current debates and interpretations; the structure and clarity of the written essay; the standard of its presentation including correct referencing, bibliography and the use of illustrations where appropriate.

To pass students must show a basic competence based on the above criteria. They will demonstrate an appropriate depth of knowledge in at least parts of the relevant field using the relevant evidence; they will make at least partially successful attempts to analyse the material showing some knowledge of current debates and interpretations; they will present their written work in a way which demonstrates a serious attempt to structure and present it clearly and correctly.


To proceed to a dissertation, students will show a solid level of achievement in all the criteria in the first paragraph.


To gain a distinction, students will, in addition, demonstrate originality in their interpretation of the evidence.

Learning outcomes

  1. Students will be able understand the different types of evidence for the history of Wales in the age of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth and will be able to analyse their significance.

  2. They will understand changing ideas and current theories and debates about the interpretation of the evidence and will be able to make a judgement for themselves on the merits of these.

  3. They will understand the advantages and limitations of using documentary and narrative sources alongside literary works and legal texts and will be able to begin to combine the use of these diverse sources for themselves.

  4. They will present 2 c 4,500 word assessed essays on topics relevant to the course which are clearly structured and demonstrate a well argued analysis of the subject using the available evidence

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Essay 1 50
Essay 2 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

Private reading for seminars and essays


10 x 2-hour seminars


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Caring - Showing concern for others; caring for children, people with disabilities and/or the elderly
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Subject specific skills

  • problem solving to develop solutions to understand the past
  • understanding the complexity of change over time; in specific contexts and chronologies
  • being sensitive to the differences, or the "otherness" of the past, and the difficulty to using it as a guide to present or future action
  • being sensitive to the role of perceptions of the past in contemporary cultures
  • producing logical and structured arguments supported by relevant evidence
  • planning, designing, executing and documenting a programme of research, working independently
  • marshalling and critically appraising other people's arguments, including listening and questioning
  • making effective and appropriate use of relevant information technology
  • making critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
  • critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions


Resource implications for students


Reading list

Carr, A. D., Medieval Wales (London, 1995). Useful concise introduction. Davies, R. R., The Age of Conquest: Wales 1063–1415 (Oxford, 1991; new edn 2000). Best single book on medieval Wales. Smith, J. B. and Ll. B., ‘Wales: Politics, Government and Law’, in S. H. Rigby (ed.), A Companion to Britain in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford, 2003), ch. 16. Useful consideration of historiographical approaches. Pryce, H., ‘Welsh rulers and European change, c.1100–1282’, in Huw Pryce and John Watts (eds.), Power and Identity in the Middle Ages: Essays in Memory of Rees Davies (2007), 37–51. (pdf file available)
Lloyd, J. E., A History of Wales from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest, vol. 2 (3rd edn, London, 1939). Though first published 1911, still very useful for political narrative (and essential reference point for historiography). Turvey, R., The Welsh Princes: The Native Rulers of Wales 1063–1283 (London, 2002) Maund, K., The Welsh Kings: The Medieval Rulers of Wales (2000). Moore, D., The Welsh Wars of Independence, c.410–c.1415 (2005), chs. 5–6. Walker, D., Medieval Wales (1990). Williams, G.A., When was Wales? A History of the Welsh (1985). Lieberman, M., The March of Wales 1067–1300: A Borderland of Medieval Britain (2008). Davies, R.R., Domination and Conquest: the experience of Ireland, Scotland and Wales 1100 1300 (1990). Frame, R., The Political Development of the British Isles, 1100 1400 (1990). Davies, R.R., The First English Empire: Power and Identities in the British Isles, 1093– 1343 (2000). Carpenter, D., The Struggle for Mastery: The Penguin History of Britain 1066–1284 (2003).

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: