Many congratulations to Rhun ap Iorwerth, Ynys Môn MS, who was elected unopposed as the new Plaid Cymru leader this month. He now embarks on the vitally important task of consolidating and increasing Plaid support and furthering the case for independence throughout Wales.
Rhun is an ancient Welsh name, predating the oldest surviving written Celtic texts of the 5th century. It was one of countless aboriginal names that appeared in the ‘Welsh Triads’ – manuscripts that collected history, folklore and various ideas and topics in groups of three. The Triad form was first developed by the bards as a succinct way to assist memory and then gradually evolved into a common rhetorical device in Welsh literature. Many different but related versions of the Triads subsequently appeared over the centuries – most notably in the 12th century Mabinogi, the 13th century ‘Peniarth’ documents such as the Black Book of Carmarthen, the 14th century White Book of Rhydderch, the 14th century Red Book of Hergest*, the 19th century Triads of Britain by Iolo Morganwg (1747-1826), the 19th century Mabinogion collection by Charlotte Guest (1812-1895), and ultimately in Trioedd Ynys Prydein; The Triads of the Island of Britain, the seminal 20th century work of Rachel Bromwich (1915-2010).
No Welsh home should be without the Rachel Bromwich book. Accepted as the standard Welsh Triad reference, it was first published by University of Wales Press in 1961 and the UWP’s third edition, published in 2006, is readily available today (eg: £20.60 on Amazon). Bromwich catalogued a total of 96 Triads, some very brief, some lengthy; some hilarious, some serious; and all illustrating the sheer depth, breadth and sophistication of Welsh knowledge as it was passed on through the generations.
The first three Triads are all brief:
Three Tribal Thrones of the Island of Britain:
Arthur as Chief Prince in Mynyw (St Davids), Dewi as Chief Bishop, Maelgwn Gwynedd as Chief Elder;
Arthur as Chief Prince in Celliwyg (Cornwall), Bytwini as Chief Bishop, Caradwg as Chief Elder;
Arthur as Chief Prince in Pen Rhionydd (Gwynedd), Cyndeyrn Garthwys as Chief Bishop, Gerthmwl Wledig as Chief Elder.
Three Generous men of the Island of Britain:
Nudd the Generous, son of Senyllt;
Mordaf the Generous, son of Serwan;
Rhydderch the Generous, son of Tudwal Tudglyd;
(And Arthur himself was more generous than the three).
Three Fair Princes of the Island of Britain:
Owain, son of Urien;
Rhun, son of Maelgwn;
Rhufawn the Radiant, son of Dewrarth Wledig.
Triad 3 is where the name Rhun first appeared in written form and now, over a thousand years later, the urgent task of freeing Cymru from the clutches of the appalling British State is being led by another Rhun. I, and around 500,000 others, wish him all the very best.
The Red Book of Hergest is scandalously held in England by Jesus College, Oxford – one of innumerable priceless Welsh antiquities looted during England’s wars of conquest against Wales and an example of how English/British ransacking and robbery long predates better known outrages like Maori skulls and the Elgin Marbles.