The war between Edward and Llywelyn was not a war between England and Wales, as we think of these countries now. Some of the best soldiers under Edward were Welsh, especially the bowmen who followed the Earl of Gloucester and Roger Mortimer from the Wye and Severn valleys. It is not right that we Welshmen should feel bitter against England, because, in this last war, Edward won and Llywelyn fell. It is easy to say that Edward was cruel and faithless, and it is easy to say that Llywelyn was shifty and obstinate; but it is quite clear that each of them thought that he was right. Edward thought that Britain ought to be united: Llywelyn thought Wales ought to be free. Now, happily, we have the union and the freedom. On the other hand, I should not like you to think that Wales was more barbarous than England, or Llywelyn less civilised than Edward I. Giraldus Cambrensis saw a prince going barefoot, and the fussy little Archbishop Peckham saw that Welsh marriage customs were not what he liked; and many historians, who have never read a line of Welsh poetry, take for granted that the conquest of Wales was a new victory for civilisation. In many ways Wales was more civilised than England at that time. Its law was more simple and less developed, it is true; but it was more just in many cases, and certainly more humane. Was it not better that the land should belong to the people, and that the youngest son should have the same chance as the eldest? And, in crime, was it not better that if no opportunity for atonement was given, the death of the criminal was to be a merciful one? In the reign of John, a Welsh hostage, a little boy of seven, was hanged at Shrewsbury, because his father, a South Wales chief, had rebelled. In the reign of Edward I., the miserable David was dragged at the tails of horses through the streets of the same town, and the tortures inflicted on the dying man were too horrible to describe to modern ears. And what the Norman baron did, his Welsh tenant learnt to do. In Wales you get fierce frays and frequent shedding of blood; on the borders you get callous cruelty to a prisoner, or the disfiguring of dead bodies-- even that of Simon de Montfort, the greatest statesman of the Middle Ages in England--on the battlefield when all passion was spent. Take the rulers of Wales again. Griffith ap Conan and Llywelyn the Great had the energy and the foresight, though their sphere was so much smaller, of Henry II. And what English king, except Alfred, attracts one on account of lovableness of character as Owen Gwynedd and Owen Cyveiliog and the Lord Rees do? When Edward entered into Snowdon, Welsh was spoken to the Dee and the Severn, and far beyond. There were many dialects, as there are still, though any two Welshmen could understand each other wherever they came from, with a little patience, as they can still. But there was also a literary language, and this was understood, if not spoken, by the chiefs all through the country. It was more like the Welsh spoken in mid-Wales--especially in the valley of the Dovey--than any other. There are many signs of civilisation; one of them is the possession of a literary language--for romance and poem, for court and Eisteddvod.
Conquered Wales may be divided into two parts--the Wales conquered by the Norman barons and the Wales conquered by the English king. The Wales conquered by the English king was the country ruled by Llywelyn and his allies. In 1284, by the statute of Rhuddlan, it was formed into six shires. The Snowdon district--which held out last-- was made into the three shires of Anglesey, Carnarvon, and Merioneth. The part of the land between Conway and Dee that belonged to the king, not to barons, was made into the shire of Flint. The lands of Llywelyn's allies beyond the Dovey were made into the shires of Cardigan and Carmarthen. Instead of the chiefs of the Welsh prince, the king's sheriffs and justices ruled the country. But much of the old law remained. The Wales conquered by the Norman barons lay to the east and south of the Wales turned into shires in 1284. It included the greater part of the valleys of the Clwyd, Dee, Severn, and Wye; and the South Wales coast from Gloucester to Pembroke. It remained in the possession of lords who were subject to the King of England, but who ruled almost like kings in their own lordships. The laws and customs of the various lordships differed greatly; sometimes the lord used English law, and sometimes Welsh law. The great ruling families changed much in wealth and power, from century to century. In Llywelyn's time the most important were the Clares (Gloucester and Glamorgan), the Mortimers (Wigmore and Chirk), Lacy (Denbigh), Warenne (Bromfield and Yale), Fitzalan (Oswestry), Bohun (Brecon), Braose (Gower), and Valence (Pembroke). Llywelyn was the last prince of independent Wales. From that time on, the title is conferred by the King of England on his eldest son, who is then crowned. The present Prince of Wales also comes, through a daughter of Llywelyn the Great, from the House of Cunedda, the princes of which ruled Wales from Roman times to 1284. Of all the houses that have gone to make the royal house, this is the most ancient.