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Glyndŵr's Banner, Wales


Last modified: 2005-10-22 by rob raeside
Keywords: wales | dragon: golden | lions: 4 | lion rampant | glyndŵr | owain glyndŵr |
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[Glyndwr's banner] image by James Frankcom

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About the flag

The Lion on Gold and Red, is the Banner of Owain Glyndwr, as born on his shield.
Philip R. Williams
, 19 September 2002

The flag which is referred to as the 'Owen Glyndwr flag' is actually the the Prince of Wales flag and was used by Glyndwr as he claimed to be the true prince of Wales. This armorial bearing is now used by the modern 'prince of Wales' [sic] as his emblem in Wales.
Muiris Mag Ualghairg, 18 April 2003

Owain Glyndwr had a claim to the throne of all Wales because through his father he inherited the throne of Powys Fadog (north Powys) and through his mother the throne of Dehuebarth. The arms of Powys are a red lion rampant on a gold background, and the arms of Dehuebarth are the reverse. Together they are Glyndwr's arms and his alone. The Arms of Gwynedd which are not included are three red lions passant on a white background.
James Frankcom, 16 September 2005

The quartered and counterchanged flag was not Glyndwr's personal blazon (Glyndwr had been Arundel's squire in the Scottish campaigns and refused to pay the money demanded of him to furnish his knighthood - so I presume him to not be possessed of a personal coat of arms). These arms are the badge of office of the "twysog cymru" - the elective office of "chief judge of Wales", usually selected from somebody descended from noble parentage who must be qualified to interpret the complex legal system created by Hwyel Dda in the 9th century whose system of inheritance prevented the accumulation of undue wealth and influence and which essentially condemned the rule of the English feudal lords and rejected the idea that noblemen stood outside of the law - the issue with Lord Grey that triggered the war, when Glyndwr found that the king chose to back wealth and privilege instead of upholding Glyndwr's legal rights. It deeply annoys a fair number of people to see Prince Charles being styled "Twysog" as if the office could be bestowed by the crown (or inherited - people claiming to be the "true" twysog cymru are equally annoying). It offended 13th century Welshmen when the Llewelyns tried to "modernise" Wales by feudalising the office to keep it in their family. Prior to Glyndwr, the previous elective twysog was Owain Llawgoch who was assassinated in France as he tried to assemble an invasion to attack England on the British mainland as an ally of the French king, and he was bearing this coat of arms in the wars there whilst Glyndwr fought in Scotland.

The banner that Glyndwr is reported to have carried into battle was the Golden Dragon (on a white field I think) i.e. Glyndwr was filling both the role of twysog and "dwg"(war-leader) - the dragons were battle flags in Wales, being derived from the Roman Cavalry's standards (not the infantry cohorts) which had originally been foreign mercenaries from somewhere in what is now Turkic Asia, peoples who lived in the saddle and are reputed to have worshipped swords that they stuck point first into the ground and prayed before, as Christians later prayed on the hilts of their swords. Their banners were as described by another contributor, a sort of windsock attached to a mask on a pole that depicted a dragon's head (see pictures of Ishtar Gate from Babylon to see what their dragons looked like). Emrys is the dwg who reputedly made this the emblem of the Brythonic armies in the 5th century - long before "king" Arthur / Arddhir?="long-bear", pendragon / penddraig = "head of the dragon". In the absence of any monolithic Welsh states due to the triple-codex legal system, it is unlikely that anybody conceived of there being any kind of national flag or emblem involving the golden dragon - it was only unfurled in a time of war, and was probably regarded with deep apprehension as a magical talisman - possessed of the power to start wars if openly displayed, and closely guarded for everyone's safety. It may well have been feared as demonic by Christianised Brythons. There is mention in early sources of the Brythons' use of crosses in battles, but nobody is sure what the sources mean. As the last remnant of Christian civilisation in the north west of Europe, attacked by pagan Gaels, Saxons and Picts, the most probable unifying symbol that could create a sense of national identity on a flag would be a cross - but they might have carried holy relics into battle in reliquaries, i.e. bits of martyrs' crosses.
David Barry Lawrence
, 7 March 2004

This flag (4 lions rampant on red and gold) has become extremely popular in Wales recently, particularly in North Wales. Last summer it was widely flown in Harlech and in Pwllheli, both towns in the Gwynedd heartland of Welsh-speaking Wales. Currently a number are being flown together with Red Dragon flags in Mold in Flintshire to celebrate the forthcoming town carnival. This is interesting since Mold is only 10 miles from the English border and is predominantly English- speaking. Last year the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff tried to ban football supporters from displaying this flag and the St. David's Cross at Wales' international matches on the grounds they were political. They relented after a angry deluge of letters to the Western Mail.
David Griffiths, 16 July 2004

Glyndŵr's four lions banner: Glyndŵr to show his royal descent from the ''high kings of Wales'' (Princes of Gwynedd) adopted their 13th century ''Royal Flag of Wales'' but which were 4 lions passive, this latter flag was also used by the famous Welsh Mercenary of the 14th Century Owain Lawgoch to show his royal descent from the aforementioned princes of Gwynedd. There are coloured pictures of Owain Lawgoch and his flag (one making common mistake of getting colours in wrong arrangement) in medieval manuscripts. There is in National Museum of Wales a 'boss' from a horse's bridle showing Glyndwr's four rampant lions. Below you will note the successful recent contemporary use of 'Baneri Glyndŵr'. Not so however, the four lions passive of the ''high kings'' native royal princes of Gwynedd. Although there are hand made versions in use and were revived for use by the patriotic 'Cymric Consciousness'' movement 'Cofiwn' in 1982 to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the assassination of Llywelyn III at Cilmeri in central Wales. One was in fact flying at Cilmeri last year and another was raised at site of Llywelyn III court 'Llys Rhosyr' in December 2004 to mark placement of a flag pole there.

NB: The 4 Lions passive above were stolen by the English on conquest of Wales in 1282-83 and are now used by the English pretender ''Princes of Wales'' but with an ''English Crown'' at center. Probably for such ''tainted'' reason true Welsh Patriots today prefer Glyndŵr's 4 Lions rampant.
G. Gruffydd
, 2 March 2005

Since we launched our 16 September - 'Dydd Dathlu Owain Glyndŵr' campaign in the year 2000 with the aid of the 'Glyndŵr ribbon' and flag, we have seen the flag recognised and flown by a growing number of councils namely Caernarfon, Bala, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Pwllheli, Carmathen, Caerffili, Dolgellau and since 21 June 2004 (Dydd y Senedd) Machynlleth, Corwen and of course, this year, Aberystwyth and, no doubt, many other Councils will voluntary follow suit upon request. So far, only Flint council has actually refused and now that Prince Owain's flag is so widely recognised throughout Cymru, we sincerely hope that they will reconsider.

Further, this year we presented the National Eisteddfod with a large 'Baner Glyndŵr' which will, henceforth fly annually at this prestigious event and we hope that Yr Urdd Annual Eisteddfod and other festivals and shows will follow suit. This year we have also witnessed the paddle steamer the 'SS Waverly' proudly fly Glyndŵr's flag from her bow and I have also seen it flying from a number of canal barges and yachts - meaning that we can now quite correctly claim that Baneri Glyndŵr flies on land and sea and sooner or later, we are sure, it will take to the skies. I do not know how long it will take before it goes into space - but we are working on it?

This year, in recognition of 'Blywyddyn Coffad Coroni Tywysog Owain Glyndŵr', we have seen 'Baneri and Bunting Glyndŵr' predominate in the following ''Cydmunedau Glyndŵr'': Harlech, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Dolgellau, Machynlleth, Corwen, Bala, Aberaeron, Pontardulais, Llanymddyfri, Caerffili and, not least, the small village of Coety near Bridgend - home to the most impressive and successful (bi-annual) Gŵyl Glyndŵr held throughout Cymru. Indeed, one can now hardly travel the whole of Cenedl Glyndŵr (Cymru) without seeing 'Baneri Glyndŵr' flying from commercial premises, such as hotels and pubs, as well as from numerous residences. Further, it is increasingly seen flying at major sports events and, in particular, at rugby and football matches. This colourful Four Lion Rampant standard of Glyndŵr carries with it the symbolism of radicalism and justice and is increasingly seen to be a must icon at protest events - such as those seen recently at Wrecsam, Aberfan and Pembre - and your correspondents could not have failed to have seen it predominate along with many wearing Baneri Glyndŵr Shirts at the Somerfields Bala protest recently.

G.Gruffydd, 2 March 2004

Golden Dragon Flag (Baner Y Ddraig Aur)

Raised by Owain Glyndŵr as his battle flag, on Twt hill overlooking Caernarfon Castle on 2 November 1401. Possibly Glyndŵr was making an “Heraldic Challenge” to English rule before the gates of a castle which more than any other represented the conquest of Wales. Caernarfon Castle with its walls based on those of Constantinople was Edward I’s monument to the final conquest of Wales in 1282. At time of building the castle the English faked discovery of King Arthur’s bones to further disillusion the Welsh and of course Edward had in this conquest stolen the Royal treasures of Gwynedd which included ‘Coron Arthur’ (Arthur's crown). Further pertinent to Glyndŵr and the Welsh was fact that the ‘Golden Dragon’ banner was originally the flag of Uther Pendragon, Arthur’s father and since this time had become the banner also associated with ‘Meibion Darogan’ (Son’s of Prophecy) which Glyndŵr became recognised as. Last but not least, Owain Gwynedd a founder prince of Gwynedd was also referred to in ‘Heraldic poetry’ with ‘Golden Dragons’, Glyndŵr no doubt was seeking association with this fact too.

G.Gruffydd, 2 March 2004