Уельс / Wales
(Y Ddraig Goch)
(Arms of the Principality)
Wales (Welsh: Cymru) is a principality and one of the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom. Wales is located in the south-west of Great Britain and is bordered by Cheshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire to the east, the Bristol Channel to the south, St George's Channel in the west, and the Irish Sea to the north.
The term Principality of Wales, in Welsh, Tywysogaeth Cymru, is often used, although the Prince of Wales has no role in the governance of Wales and this term is unpopular among some. Wales has not been politically independent since 1282, when it was conquered by King Edward I of England. The capital of Wales since 1955 has been Cardiff, although Caernarfon is the location where the Prince of Wales is invested, and Machynlleth was the home of a parliament called by Owain Glyndwr during his revolt at the start of the fifteenth century. In 1999, the National Assembly for Wales was formed, which has limited domestic powers and cannot make law.
The Romans established a string of forts across what is now southern Wales, as far west as Carmarthen (Maridunum), and mined gold at Dolaucothi in Carmarthenshire. There is evidence that they progressed even further west. They also built the legionary fortress at Caerleon (Isca), whose magnificent amphitheatre is the best preserved in Britain. The Romans were also busy in northern Wales, and an old legend claims that Magnus Maximus, one of the last emperors, married Elen or Helen, the daughter of a Welsh chieftain from Segontium, near present-day Caernarfon.
Wales was never conquered by the Anglo-Saxons, due to the fierce resistance of its people and its mountainous terrain. An Anglo-Saxon king, Offa of Mercia, is credited with having constructed a great earth wall, or dyke, along the border with his kingdom, to mark off a large part of Powys which he had conquered. Parts of Offa's Dyke can still be seen today.
Wales remained a Celtic region, and its people kept speaking the Welsh language, even as the Celtic elements of England and Scotland gradually disappeared. The name Wales is evidence of this, as it comes from a Germanic root word meaning stranger or foreigner, and as such is related to the names of several other European regions where Germanic peoples came into contact with non-Germanic cultures including Wallonia in Belgium and Wallachia in Romania, as well as the "-wall" of Cornwall. Part of the word "Cymru" is evident in the "Cum-" of Cumberland and Cumbria.
Wales continued to be Christian (see 1904-1905 Welsh Revival and Welsh Methodist revival) when England was overrun by pagan German and Scandinavian tribes, though many older beliefs and customs survived among its people. Thus, Saint David (Dewi Sant) went on a pilgrimage to Rome during the 6th century, and was serving as a bishop in Wales well before Augustine arrived to convert the king of Kent and found the diocese of Canterbury. Although the Druidic religion is alleged to have had its stronghold in Wales until the Roman invasion, many of the so-called traditions, such as the gorsedd, or assembly of bards, were the invention of eighteenth-century "historians." The traditional women's Welsh costume, incorporating a tall black hat, was devised in the nineteenth century by Lady Llanover, herself a prominent patron of the Welsh language and culture.
The conquest of Wales by England did not take place in 1066, when England was conquered by the Normans, but was gradual, not being complete until 1282, when King Edward I of England defeated Llywelyn the Last, Wales's last independent prince, in battle. Edward constructed a series of great stone castles in order to keep the Welsh under control. The best known are at Caerphilly, Caernarfon, Conwy, and Harlech. Wales was legally annexed by the Laws in Wales Act 1535, in the reign of Henry VIII of England. The Wales and Berwick Act 1746 provided that all laws that applied to England would automatically apply to Wales (and Berwick, a town located on the Anglo-Scottish border) unless the law explicitly stated otherwise. This act, with regard to Wales, was repealed in 1967.
Wales, when independent, was rarely a united entity. Since the end of Roman rule in Britain, Wales had been a number of small kingdoms where occasionally one would be in a position to be able to dominate the others. During the 12th Century the title "king" was no longer used by local Welsh rulers and they began using the title "prince" in their dealings with the English crown and other territories. This was because they were compelled to pay homage to the English sovereign and could only do so if they conceded that they were a prince, and not a fellow king. In the 13th Century the rulers of the most powerful principality, Gwynedd, were afforded the title "Prince of Wales" by the English king.
As such, Wales has been a principality since the 13th century, initially under the Welsh prince Llywelyn the Great, and later under his grandson, Llywelyn the Last, who took the title Prince of Wales around 1258, and was recognised by the English Crown in 1277 by the Treaty of Aberconwy. Following his defeat by Edward I, however, Welsh independence in the 14th century was limited to a number of minor revolts. The greatest such revolt was that of Owain Glyndwr, who gained popular support in 1400, and defeated an English force at Pumlumon in 1401. In response, the English parliament passed repressive measures denying the Welsh the right of assembly. Glyndwr was proclaimed Prince of Wales, and sought assistance from the French, but by 1409 his forces were scattered under the attacks of King Henry IV of England and further measures imposed against the Welsh.
The Laws in Wales Act 1535 abolished the remaining Marcher Lordships, leaving Wales with thirteen counties: Anglesey, Brecon, Caernarfon, Cardigan, Carmarthen, Denbigh, Flint, Glamorgan, Merioneth, Monmouth, Montgomery, Pembroke, and Radnor, and applied the Law of England to both England and Wales, requiring the English language for official purposes. This excluded most native Welsh from any formal office. Wales continues to share a legal identity with England to a large degree as the joint entity of England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland retain separate legal systems.
Wales was for centuries dwarfed by its larger neighbour, England. Indeed, one well-known British encyclopedia was said - perhaps apocryphally - to have had an entry reading "WALES. See under ENGLAND". In 1955 steps were taken to re-establish a sense of national identity for Wales when Cardiff was established as its capital. Before this, legislation passed by the UK parliament had simply referred to England, rather than England and Wales.
Since 1993 and the passing of the Welsh Language Act it has been law for all documents produced by public bodies to bein both English and Welsh. Many private companies have followed suit, producing literature with similar bilingual qualities.
The National Assembly for Wales, sitting in Cardiff, first elected in 1999, is elected by the Welsh people and has its powers defined by the Government of Wales Act 1998. The title of Prince of Wales is still given by the reigning British monarch to his or her eldest son, but in modern times the Prince does not live in Wales and has no direct involvement with administration or government. The Prince is, however, still symbolically linked to the principality; the investiture of Charles, Prince of Wales took place at Caernarfon Castle in North Wales, a place traditionally associated with the creation of the title in the 13th century. The investiture was considered an insult by some Welsh people, and Welsh folk singer Dafydd Iwan released mocking singles called Croeso Chwedeg Nain (Welcome 69, although a literal translation would be Welcome Granny's 60th (birthday)) and Carlo (Charlie). Two members of "Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru" - MAC (Welsh Defence Movement) - George Taylor and Alwyn Jones, the "Abergele Martyrs", were killed by a home made bomb at Abergele the day