The Kingdom of Wales gained its independence during the 1st War of Independence against England (1400-1408). The war is called the Glyndwr Rebellion in England. Under the Treaty of London Henry IV recognised Welsh independence, under the English Crown and the Welsh borders were extended up the the banks of the River Severn for most of its length and then in a line along the Cheshire-Welsh border from Shrewsbury north. The realm recognised by Henry was a Principality, with Owain ruling as Owain IV, Prince of Wales, and the treaty bound both Owain and Wales to the English cause in Europe, even though during the war Wales had been allied to both France and the Avignon Papacy. This in part was the doing of the French king who brokered the Treaty along with the Welsh ambassadors, Gruffydd Young and John Hanmer.
The House of Glyndwr (called variously the House of Mathrafal, House of Powys Fadog and the House of Powys Fadog-Glyndwr) then ruled Wales for another 199 years. The Dynasty fell with internal squabbles about religion. The Prince of Powys during the reign of Queen Elen had converted to Lutheranism and had made concerted efforts to convert the Crown Prince, Marc. In this he was successful, but when Marc succeeded to the throne war broke out between those who would keep Wales Catholic and those who supported Marc and Powys. In the end both Marc and Rhys (Powys) were killed and defeated and the king's brother's son, Dafydd (Duke of Dyfed) succeeded to the crown, ushering the House of Dehubarth onto the throne, and whose dynasty would rule Wales for 148 years (although they also lost the country to the English during the 3rd Anglo-Welsh War of 1718).
England would rule Wales for the next 78 years. Eventually, however, Wales regained its independence under a new dynasty, the House of Morgannwg which gained recognition of this in the 1796 Treaty of Shrewsbury which saw Wales restored to its previous borders, but again, under nominal English suzerainty. The rule of the House of Morgannwg would be interrupted by the Welsh Civil War, fought between 1843 and 1849, which saw the House of MacGregor-Glyndwr (the Princes of Gwynedd) attempt to regain the Welsh throne. In the end the House of Morgannwg survived and saw Wales enter the 20th Century as an independent Imperial Power (albeit a minor power).
The 20th Century saw some mixed fortunes for Wales. The century opened with the old king, Rhisiart IV, on the throne amid political chaos. Since the 1796 Restoration politics had changed in Wales. Previously the Senedd in Machynlleth had wielded if not great power then certainly an equalising power with the senior Nobility and the King making up the Welsh political triad. After the Restoration only two sides of the triad were restored. The Monarchy and the Nobility were restored to their rights but the Senedd was not. By the end of the 19th century, however, political unrest in Wales was high. In 1857 there had been an assassination attempt on Rhisiart III and again in 1867 and with the succession of his heir, Rhisiart IV there were riots in the capital Cardiff in 1870. Whilst the Senedd had not been reformed in its previous form, it was still used for tax raising purposes, but even in this form it met for the last time in 1880.
In 1901 the political agitators scored their biggest success to date with the killing of Queen Catherine and riots continued at such a pace that the King was forced to remove himself from his Cardiff based Palace (Cwm Hyfryd) back to the more secure Royal Fortress of Caerphilly. In 1903, at last the King reinstated the Senedd "to meet at the King's liberty" in a new purpose built Parliament House in Cardiff (Civic Centre). The 1904 Constitution for the first time detailed the King's powers and prerogatives, whilst confirming two Houses of the Senedd, the Ty Uchaf (Upper House) and the Ty Isod (Lower House) or Cynulliad (Assembly).
1904 also saw the more liberal Iorwerth succeed his father to the throne. His reign, whilst brief was important as it saw many developments. Welsh neutrality in the First World War did not prevent the adoption of many of the advances made during that conflict, including the introduction of a Welsh Air Force in 1919. The first decades also saw road building for cars increased, it also saw the first Welsh Communist Party formed. As a result of Iorwerth's Russian ancestry (from his mother Catherine Romanov) Wales also offered refuge for several high ranking Russian nobles in the wake of the October Revolution. The end years of Iorwerth's reign though did see several high profile arrests of political figures and the rising spectre of nationalism, highlighted by the Crown Prince, Iago, something which Iorwerth feared.
The succession of Iago sees dramatic change. The Five Year Autocracy lasts until 1925 with Iago ruling via a complicated Civil Bureaucracy, the Five Year Autocracy only ending with the first Communist Uprising in the south Wales coal fields. 1931 and the Welsh economy collapses and Iago comes increasingly under the influence of Adolf Hitler, resulting in the 1933 Treaty of Berlin which sees Wales become allies of the Nazi State. From 1935 onward, German "advisors" begin to come to Wales, helping Iago modernise and expand all three branches of the Armed Forces, expand the road networks many other civil engineering projects including power plants and industrial bases. Riots broke out in 1938 with Iago and his advisors increasingly unpopular. The '38ers main goal was to place the 17 year old Crown Prince on the throne, but Iago, with German help ruthlessly put down the attempt.
1939 and the start of World War Two sees Iago move the Senedd and Cynulliad to Machynlleth and the dismissal of the head of the Army, Field Marshal Thomas. 1940 has Thomas declaring Iago deposed and Iago declaring Wales to be annexed to the German state. Welsh troops clash with both German and English troops as both sides battle for supremacy within the Kingdom. Field Marshall Thomas, working closely with the English manages to retain control of the Armed Forces and by the August of 1940 Iago is a prisoner in Cardiff, though he is not removed from the throne. Thomas is made Chancellor of Wales and Wales formally joins the Allied effort. When the Americans join the Allies the pressure on Wales and Thomas is increased. The Americans in particular push for democratic change within Wales, a country for whom the vote is restricted to men over 21. The presence of both Americans and the actions of the Monarchy strengthens the Communist Party in Wales as well during this period and when the Crown Prince dies during the D-Day landings many commentators feel that the days of the Kingdom are numbered.
After the end of the war the Communist Party attempts a coup which is only partly put down, and 1947 the Americans force through the Act of Parliament making Iago's sister, Marged, the heir to the throne. The Americans also force an election in 1949 in which the Communist Party wins control of the Assembly though not the Senedd, which remains an unelected Second Chamber.
With the death of Iago in 1950 the Communist controlled Assembly seizes control of key sites throughout Wales and declares the The Democratic People's Republic of Wales. It was a moment of pure theatre and bad timing. American troops were able to crush the nascent Republic in days and killed many of the leading protagonists. The 1950's have Wales ruled almost as an American fiefdom, with the frail and frequently ill Marged a titular Queen only. Arthur II ruling in the 1960's 70's and early 80's sees the reduction of the American influence, the gradual curtailing of monarchial power and the final flowering of Communist rule during the early 1970's.
With the succession of Llywelyn III in 1982 Wales was more secure than it had been for 100 years, but the scars of the last 50 years hung heavily on the country. The reign starts off in controversial fashion though with Welsh support for Argentina in the Falklands War, but relations are soon mended. The last American Armed Forces leave Wales in 1987 and Welsh integration with the EU continues apace.
The following 14 days are the Public Holidays observed within the Welsh Kingdom
- January 1st: Dydd Calan (New Years Day)
- January 6th: Y Ystwyll (Epiphany)
- March 1st: Dydd Gwyl Dewi (St Davids Day - National Saints Day)
- Thursday before Easter: Dydd Iau Cablyd (Maundy Thursday)
- Friday before Easter: Gwener y Groglith (Good Friday)
- Monday following Easter Sunday (Dydd Pasg): Dydd Llun y Pasg (Easter Monday)
- First Monday in May: Dydd Calan Mai (May Day)
- Last Monday in May: Gwyl y Gwanwyn (Spring Holiday)
- August 16th: Dydd Rhyddhad (Liberation Day - Date of the Invasion of Rhisiart I)
- Last Monday in August: Gwyl yr Haf (Summer Holiday)
- September 16th: Dydd Annibyniaeth (Independence Day or Proclamation of Owain, Tysog i Cymru)
- December 25th: Dydd Nadolig (Christmas Day)
- December 26th: Gwyl San Steffan (St Stephens Day or Boxing Day)
- King's Official Birthday. This Public Holiday is usually taken on the date of the coronation. However, under the present king, because that falls on the 30th March and therefore creates too many public holidays at that time it is held on his actual birthday, which is the 20th July.
Wales is a constitutional monarchy, in the Anglo-Scottish fashion, with the king holding the theoretical powers to apoint and dismiss governments, declare war, and the Armed Forces swear allegiance to the Crown rather than Parliament. Important events in modern Welsh political history include the 1904 Constitution. This was the first modern constitution for the Welsh kingdom and codified for the first time since Dafydd IV the place and role of the Senedd. The 1904 Constitution for the first time detailed the King's powers and prerogatives, and confirmed the two Houses of the Senedd, the Ty Uchaf (Upper House) and the Ty Isod (Lower House) or Cynulliad (Assembly). The Ty Uchaf's members were appointed by the monarch with the Cynulliad's members elected by popular sufferage.
The Five Year Autocracy (1920-25) saw an upsetting of the new political order and the remainder of the 1920's and 30's saw political instability within the kingdom. The 1952 Constitution was in part imposed by the American's. In the wake of the Great War and the attempted despotic rule of Iago, the reaction in Wales led to an attempted People's Republic. Put down with American support, it led to the American sponsored 1950 Monarchy Referendum and the 1952 Constitution.
This modernised the previous 1904 Consitiution. The Ty Uchaf was confirmed as a revising Chamber with members serving for 6 year terms but were now to be elected with fixed election dates. The Cynulliad was invested with executive power and its members serving five year terms (with elections under the purview of the Canghellor, exercising executive power).
In 1975 the Royal Limitations Act stripped yet more power from the Crown and placed it either in the Cynulliad itself or in the office of Chancellor. The Royal Limitations Act also reduced the power and scope of the Privy Council.
The 1975 Gweithred Cyfyngiadau Brenhinol (Royal Limitations Act) also acted as the third revision of the Welsh Consitution. It confirmed the 1952 alterations, and re-affirmed the powers and responsibilities of the two houses. The Senedd itself was split into two Chambers. The Ty Uchaf (Upper Chamber) members were called Seneddwr (Senators) and were elected for six year terms. One alteration introduced by the 1975 Act was to remove the split three yearly election cycle, making all Seneddwr's re-electable at the same election. The Ty Isod also known as the Cynulliad was the Lower Chamber. This chamber was confirmed as holding Executive Powers vested in the Crown Officials, headed by the Canghellor. This Chamber's members were called Aelodau o'r Cynulliad (elected members having the suffix AC after their names). The Head of the Government is the Canghellor who is the leader of the winning political party controlling the Cynulliad.
The Act in addition to limiting the powers of the monarch, also formally limited the powers of the Ty Uchaf and the Cyfrin Gyngor (Privy Council).
The 1975 Welsh Constitution Act was the act of the openly Communist Government of Wales, and it was to this constitution that Llywelyn swore to abide by in his coronation oaths. The most recent elections held in Wales were the
- 2006 Senedd Election
- 2008 Cynulliad Election
- 2012 Senedd Elections
- 2014 Cynulliad Election
- 2018 Super Election (Both Houses)
The heir to the throne (called the Edling) is Owain, Edling Ngymru (in English, the Crown Prince Owain).
The 1975 GCB also modernised the Royal Courts of State as well as the Llysoedd Tywysogaidd (Princely courts) which had not been previously addressed and which still (in law if not in practice) had wide powers over their respective principalities. The primary Offices of State in the Welsh Government are as follows (the Anglo-Scottish equivalent in italics).
Canghellor (Chancellor) - Prime Minister/Head of Government
Distain (Steward): Foreign Secretary
Trysorydd (Treasurer) - Chancellor of the Exchequer
Penteulu - Defence Secretary
Pennaf Meddyg (Chief Medic) - Health Secretary
Pennaf Tufewnol (Chief of the Interior) - Home Secretary
Ysgrifennydd Cyffredinol y Commissariat (General Secretary of the Commissariat) - No equivalent
Gwas Ystafell Sennedd (Chamberlain and Head of the Upper House) - Leader of the House of Lords
The Provincial System of WalesWales is divided up into the three Principalities, the three Duchies and the Lordships of Wales. The Principalities are Gwynedd, Powys and Morgannwg, with the Duchies being the Duchy of Mers (March), the Duchy of Gwent, the Duchy of Penfro and the Duchy of Deheubarth (which contains further sub-divisions including Ceredigion). The Lordships form the remaining Counties of Wales, with Ynys Môn in the north, and Penfro, Ystrad Towi, Kidwelli, Gower, Brycheiniog, Ergyng, Dean, Henffordd, Gwlad yr Haf and Dyfnaint Glan Hafren in the south. The remaining county is the Lord-Archbishopric (County Palatine) of St Davids
Wales is a member of the European Union and various international agencies such as NATO, the UN and the WEU. As a Western democracy its foreign policy tends to follow the European norms. Due to decades of heavy American involvement in the Welsh Kingdom, the country does tend to follow the American lead in foreign policy as well as mirroring many UK-ES policies.
It does differ slightly over issues, however. Wales has long been a supporter of Argentina over its claims to the Falkland Islands and during the Iraq Invasion Wales held back from committing troops to the conflict. During the Afghan Conflict, however, Wales has contributed troops to the coalition's efforts in that country.
Since the mid 1980's Wales has also cultivated close ties with China and other Asian countries such as Japan, Malaysia as well as renewing cordial relations with Russia.
Within the Kingdom of Wales, sport splits the country almost in two. The Marcher Country (Y Mers, Henffordd, Dean and Ergyng), Gwent, Morgannwg, and Tiroedd y De (Southlands - Gwlad yr Haf and Dyfnaint Glan Hafren) is dominated by Football and Rugby Union with the English game of Cricket imported during the occupation. West and North Wales is an area dominated by Gaelic sports, particularly Gaelic Football and Hurling, with teams from Tyddewi, Ceredigion, Llŷn and Môn competing in the Irish Leagues of those sports.
Armed Forces - Y Lluoedd Arfog Gymreig
The Welsh Armed Forces (Y Lluoedd Arfog Gymreig) are divided into the following
- Byddin Frenhiniol Gymreig (BFG - Royal Welsh Army RWA)
- Llynges Frenhiniol Gymreig (LFG - Royal Welsh Navy RWN)
- Llu Awyr Frenhiniol Gymreig (LAFG - Royal Welsh Air Force RWAF)
The BFG in particular is viewed as one of the most effective in the world, and units from it are often in many far flung areas of the globe serving with both NATO and the UN. The LFG is a medium-sized fleet. The fleet is split into a blue ocean fleet and a brown water (shore support) fleet. The fleet still maintains two aircraft carriers with the associated close support ships though the political pressure to decommission this aspect of the fleet is now intense in Welsh politics. The fleet also contains a strong diesel electric submarine flotilla. The LAFG is probably the least developed of the Welsh Armed Forces. With England defending the southern and eastern approaches and the newly independent Scotland guarding the northern approach to Wales, the argument for a strong air force is a weak one.