Gweurful daughter of Madog of Abertanad, fl. c.1430–60
Guto composed an elegy for Gweurful daughter of Madog (poem 88), and he almost certainly composed other poems for her that have not survived. Other poets also composed poems for Gweurful:
a poem by Llawdden to thank Gweurful for a peacock and a peahen and to request a peacock from both her and her husband, Gruffudd ab Ieuan Fychan, on behalf of Dafydd Llwyd of Newtown, GLl poem 8;
an elegy by Lewys Glyn Cothi, GLGC poem 212.
Lewys also composed a poem for Gruffudd ap Rhys, one of Gweurful’s sons from her first marriage (ibid. poem 221), and Guto and other poets composed poems for Dafydd Llwyd, one of her sons from her second marriage, as well as Catrin his wife.
LlGC 6499B, 619–20 (1600/50–c.1655) contains the only extant copy of an unedited poem of praise for her second husband, Gruffudd ab Ieuan Fychan of Abertanad, in which Gweurful is also praised (lines 32–46):
… aml ywr henw am liw r hinon gwenfrewy glod gwin for glan gwerfyl liw gwawr wyl ifan ynnill mydr yn null madawg ai gael mor hael y mae’r hawg aeth i thad a cherdd gadair y byd gynt bodo gair mwy nag vn yna i ganv maen gwerthfawr ar faelawr fu am bendith wyneb indeg ar fawl da i werfyl deg am ddyfod cawn ddiod dda hyd dy deml attad yma gr’ bedydd wybodau hwyr foch dydd a hir fyw’ch dau
‘… great is the renown of one who’s like sunshine, St Winifred’s fame, fair sea of wine, Gwerful, colour of sunrise on the Feast of St John. She gains poetry in the manner of Madog and she receives it so generously now; her father of yore possessed the world’s poem of the chair, every word entirely, more than anyone else in terms of songcraft, he was a precious stone there for Maelor. With my blessing, Indeg’s appearance, on good praise for fair Gwerful, in exchange for coming before you to your temple here I’d receive good drink. Gruffudd, baptism of knowledge, may your time last and may you both have long life!’
The nature of the blessing in the last line suggests that this was in fact the last line of the poem, yet as the surviving text contains only 46 lines it is likely that lines are missing from elsewhere in the poem. Furthermore, as a few unreliable readings in the excerpt above show, it is possible that the lost source of the copy written in LlGC 6499B was slightly defective. The poet’s name was lost due to a tear at the bottom of the page. Nonetheless, the surviving text clearly shows that Gweurful’s father was renowned in connection with [c]erdd gadair ‘a poem awarded a [silver] chair’ either as a patron of note or as a poet (see the combination in GPC 465 s.v. cerdd1; 65a.48n). The example above is one of the earliest references to the custom of rewarding poets in this manner, yet as no poet nor patron named Madog ap Maredudd is known, its significance remains unclear.
The following note is found in HPF iv: 190–200, which may be an interesting reference to Gweurful:
Gwerfyl Hael, the heiress of Blodwel and Abertanad, was very celebrated in her day for her many noble and excellent qualities. Among innumerable verses composed in her honour we find the following record of her goodness.
Next to Gwerfyl of Gwerfa, and Gwerfyl the Good, Stands Gwerfyl of Blodwel in prudence and blood.
The couplet may derive from lines in Lewys Glyn Cothi’s elegy for Gweurful (GLGC 212.39–42):
Tair santes oedd i Iesu, a rhan i Fair o’r rhain fu: Gwenful yn ymyl gwynfa, Urful ddoeth a Gweurful dda.
‘There were three female saints for Jesus, and they were partly for Mary also: St Gwenful beside a fair land, wise St Urful and good Gweurful.’
Lineage Gweurful was married twice, firstly to Rhys ap Dafydd of Rhug and secondly to Gruffudd ab Ieuan Fychan of Abertanad. The genealogical table below is based on WG1 ‘Bleddyn ap Cynfyn’ 21, ‘Tudur Trefor’ 17; WG2 ‘Bleddyn ap Cynfyn’ F1. The names of Guto’s patrons are underlined.
Lineage of Gweurful daughter of Madog of Abertanad
Gweurful had two sisters, Catrin and Annes, and her mother was Marged daughter of Siencyn Deca. As is shown above, Hywel, her son from her first marriage, was the father of Elen, wife of Dafydd ap Meurig Fychan of Nannau.
Dates Guto’s elegy for Gweurful’s son, Dafydd Llwyd, clearly shows that she had died before both Dafydd and his wife, Catrin, died of the bubonic plague around the beginning of November 1465. However, the exact date of her death is unknown. Since she married twice and bore six children, it is likely that she was born before c.1430.
Her name Guto names Gweurful four times in his elegy for her, and the textual evidence suggests that he used two forms of her name in line with different cynganeddion:
4 Megis marwfis am Weurful;
19 Dwyn Gweurul dan y garreg;
28 Gweurful wen, gwae’r Fêl Ynys;
50 Ar ysgôr a roes Gweurul.
The form Gweurul is supported by Guto’s poem to thank Gweurful’s daughter-in-law, Catrin, for a purse (poem 87), where most manuscripts support the same form:
31 Llaw Weurul oll i arall.
Lewys Glyn Cothi names Gweurful six times in his elegy for her. The cynghanedd is of little importance in the first example but it dictates that the form Gweurful should be used in another example and the form Gweurul in four further ones (GLGC poem 212):
20 cwyn mawr yw’n cân am Weurul;
26 do, Weurul o’i daearu;
42 Urful ddoeth a Gweurful dda;
46 enw Gweurul uddun’ gares;
64 â Gweurul i’r drugaredd.
Although the textual evidence is not as conclusive in terms of which vowel sound was used in the first syllable, either Gweur[f]ul or Gwer[f]ul, it seems likely that Guto used the first. After all, scribes are more likely to have dropped the -u- than to have added it, and -eu- is supported by textual evidence in other poems by Guto where Gweurful is named (86.61n Afal pêr Gweurful heb ball; 87.31n Llaw Weurul oll i arall). In 86.10n and 89.62n only is there strong textual evidence for Gwerful, but Gweurful was used in the edited texts of those poems due to the strong evidence for Gweurful in other lines. Note that Gweurful is also the form used in Lewys Glyn Cothi’s elegy for Gweurful and in Llawdden’s poem for her.
Unless otherwise noted, copyright on the content of this website belongs to the University of Wales