Intelligence and intrigue in the March of Wales: noblewomen and the fall of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, 1274–82


  • An earlier version of this article was presented at the Institute of Historical Research's Late Medieval seminar series in March 2012. The author is grateful both to those present, whose comments during discussion proved invaluable, and to David Carpenter for his careful appraisal of a draft of the article.


This article examines the part played by key baronial wives of the Welsh Marches in the defeat of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in 1282. Beginning with a single unpublished piece of correspondence between Maud Mortimer of Wigmore and a servant in the Marches in 1274, it not only explores the hidden involvement of women like Maud in the conquest of Wales, but also considers what this reveals about the opportunities available to noblewomen, particularly non-widows, in the Welsh Marches and beyond. It also contends that historians will not fully understand the events surrounding the catastrophic Welsh defeat without allowing for women's contributions.