In 1267 Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Prince of Gwynedd had been recognised by the English Crown as Prince of Wales, holding his lands with the king of England as his feudal overlord. However, following the death of Henry III in 1272, the relationship between England and Wales broke down as the new and ambitious King Edward I pressed his ambition to master of the whole island of Great Britain. By 1276 Llywelyn had been declared a rebel and diplomatic pressure was followed by a massive invasion force the following year. Edward forced Llywelyn into submission, confining him to lands above the Conwy.
Though he claimed not to have been involved in the planning, Llywelyn felt obliged to join his brother’s ill prepared rebellion. The Archbishop of Canterbury tried mediating between Llywelyn and Edward, and Llywelyn was offered a large estate in England if he would surrender Wales to Edward, while Dafydd was to go on a crusade and not return without the king's permission. In an emotional reply, which has been compared to the Declaration of Arbroath, Llywelyn said he would not abandon the people whom his ancestors had protected since "the days of Kamber son of Brutus". The offer was refused.
Llywelyn now left Dafydd to lead the defense of Gwynedd and took a force south, trying to rally support in mid and south Wales and open up an important second front. However, on December 11th 1282, Llywelyn was killed in an ambush at Cilmeri. His leaderless army was routed shortly afterwards and English forces moved to occupy Powys and eastern Gwynedd.
It is by this means that Wales became "united and annexed" to the Crown of England as under the auspices of Llewelyn and Dafydd’s treason, Edward I was able to take possession of the lands and titles of the House of Aberffraw.
The Statute of Rhyddlan was issued from Rhuddlan Castle in North Wales, one of the "iron ring" of fortresses built by Edward I to control his newly conquered lands. It provided the constitutional basis for the government of what was called "The Land of Wales" or "the king's lands of Snowdon and his other lands in Wales", but subsequently called the "Principality of North Wales". The English Crown already had a means of governing South Wales.
- Daughters could inherit their father's lands if there was no son.
- Widows were entitled to dower in a third of their late husband's lands.
- Bastards were excluded from inheriting.
The Statute would be in force until the early 16th century when it was superseded by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 when Henry VIII made Wales unequivocally part of the "realm of England".
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