A total of eighteen poems for Rhisiart Cyffin by seven poets have survived in the manuscripts. Guto composed six of them:
Four poems for Rhisiart by Tudur Aled have survived:
Llywelyn ap Gutun composed three satires on Rhisiart:
There are two poems for Rhisiart by Lewys Môn:
There are also other individual poems for Rhisiart by other poets:
Furthermore, Lewys Daron composed a poem to request a horse from one of Rhisiart’s sons, Dafydd Conwy, on behalf of Siôn Wyn ap Maredudd (GLD poem 22).
The genealogical table below is based on Salisbury 2011: 73–77. The names of Guto’s patrons are underlined.
It is likely that Rhisiart began his ecclesiastical career as the parson of the parish church of Y Gyffin in the commote of Arllechwedd Isaf in May 1470 (the entire note is based on Salisbury 2011). Rhisiart was appointed dean of Bangor sometime between that date and 12 May 1478, the date of the earliest reference to him as dean. He was dean throughout the 1480s and died, in all likelihood, on 13 August 1492, and was buried inside the church.
The poets addressed Rhisiart as dean in almost every poem, yet they also took pride in the fact that he was parson of the church of Llanddwyn on Anglesey. Furthermore, parts of Guto’s poems to him show that he was active in the work of rebuilding parts of the church and the bishop’s palace in Bangor (58.7–10; 59.3–14). Following his support for Henry Tudor he received money to build a chantry for St Catherine inside the church. He also placed a stained glass window in the south-east wall of the church, in which both St Catherine and St Dwynwen were depicted. Rhisiart’s name appeared on the bottom part of the window with the title Magistri, which is echoed in the poets’ use of mastr Rhisiart ‘master Rhisiart’. It seems that he was a graduate in canon law.
Rhisiart’s cultural patronage was substantial. He provided more poetic patronage than any other medieval ecclesiastic who held an office in one of the four Welsh dioceses. Furthermore, the genres of the poems that were composed either for him or on his request are notably diverse, for they include a sizeable amount of satirical and light-hearted poems as well as more conventional praise. It seems that his sense of humour as a patron was healthier that most.
Salisbury, E. (2011), ‘Rhisiart Cyffin ab Ieuan Llwyd, Deon Bangor’, Dwned, 17: 73–118