Conquest of Wales by Edward I of England
The conquest of Wales by Edward I, sometimes referred to as the Edwardian Conquest of Wales, took place between 1277 and 1283. It resulted in the defeat and annexation of the Principality of Wales, the other last remaining independent Welsh principalities, by Edward I, King of England. By the 13th century Wales was divided between native Welsh principalities and the territories of the Anglo-Norman Marcher lords; the leading principality was Gwynedd whose princes had gained control of the greater part of the country, making the other remaining Welsh princes their vassals, had taken the title Prince of Wales. Although English monarchs had made several attempts to seize control of the native Welsh territories, it was not until Edward's war of conquest against Llywelyn ap Gruffudd of 1277 to 1283 that this was achieved on a lasting basis. In two campaigns, in 1277 and 1282/1283 Edward first reduced the territory of the Principality of Wales and completely overran it, as well as the other remaining Welsh principalities.
Most of the conquered territory was retained as a royal fief, these lands subsequently became, by custom, the territorial endowment of the heir to the English throne with the title Prince of Wales. The remainder would be granted to Edward's supporters as new Marcher lordships. Although the territories would not be incorporated into the Kingdom of England until the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542, Edward's conquest marked the end of Welsh independence. Following a series of invasions beginning shortly after their conquest of England in 1066, the Normans seized much of Wales and established quasi-independent Marcher lordships, owing allegiance to the English crown. However, Welsh principalities such as Gwynedd and Deheubarth survived and from the end of the 11th century, the Welsh began pushing back the Norman advance. Over the following century the Welsh recovery fluctuated and the English kings, notably Henry II, several times sought to conquer or establish suzerainty over the native Welsh principalities.
By the end of the 12th century the Marcher lordships were reduced to the south and south east of the country. The principality of Gwynedd was the dominant power in Wales in the first half of the 13th century, with Powys and Deheubarth becoming tributary states. Gwynedd's princes now assumed the title "Prince of Wales", but war with England in 1241 and 1245, followed by a dynastic dispute in the succession to the throne, weakened Gwynedd and allowed Henry III to seize Perfeddwlad. However, from 1256 a resurgent Gwynedd under Llywelyn ap Gruffudd resumed the war with Henry and took back Perfeddwlad. By the Treaty of Montgomery of 1267, peace was restored and, in return for doing homage to the English king, Llywelyn was recognised as Prince of Wales and his re-conquest of Perfeddwlad was accepted by Henry. However, sporadic warfare between Llywelyn and some of the Marcher Lords, such as Gilbert de Clare, Roger Mortimer and Humphrey de Bohun continued. Henry III died in 1272 and was succeeded by his son, Edward I.
Whereas Henry's ineffectiveness had led to the collapse of royal authority in England during his reign, Edward was a vigorous and forceful ruler and an able military leader. In 1274, tension between Llywelyn and Edward increased when Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn of Powys and Llywelyn's younger brother Dafydd ap Gruffydd defected to the English and sought Edward's protection; because of the continuing conflict with the Marcher Lords and Edward's harbouring of defectors, when Edward demanded that Llywelyn come to Chester in 1275 to do homage to him as required by the Treaty of Montgomery, Llywelyn refused. For Edward, a further provocation came from Llywelyn's planned marriage to Eleanor, daughter of Simon de Montfort, the leader of a rebellion against the crown during the reign of Edward's father. In November 1276, Edward declared war on Llywelyn. However, his objective was to put down a recalcitrant vassal rather than to begin a war of conquest. Early in 1277, before the main royal army had been mustered, Edward deployed, in south and mid-Wales, a mixture of forces comprising paid troops, some of the marcher lords' retainers and knights of the royal household.
They met with considerable success as many of the native Welsh rulers, resentful of Llywelyn's overlordship and joined the English. In July 1277, Edward launched a punitive expedition into North Wales with his own army of 15,500 — of whom 9,000 were Welshmen from the south — raised through a traditional feudal summons. From Chester the army marched into Gwynedd, camping first at Flint and Rhuddlan and Deganwy, most causing significant damage to the areas it advanced through. A fleet from the Cinque ports provided naval support. Llywelyn soon realised his position was hopeless and surrendered; the campaign never came to a major battle. However, Edward decided to negotiate a settlement rather than attempt total conquest, it may be that he was running short of men and supplies by November 1277 and, in any case, complete conquest of Llywelyn's territories had not been his objective. By the Treaty of Aberconwy in November 1277, Llywelyn was left only with the western part of Gwynedd, though he was allowed to retain the title of Prince of Wales.
Eastern Gwynedd was split between Edward and Llywelyn's brother Dafydd, with the remainder of the lands, tributary to him becoming Edward's. As a result of both territorial expropriation and the submission of the ruling families, Deheubarth and mid-Wales became a mixture of directly controlled royal land and pliant English protectorates. Edward's victory was comprehensive and it represented a major redistribution of
Kingdom of Powys
The Kingdom of Powys was a Welsh successor state, petty kingdom and principality that emerged during the Middle Ages following the end of Roman rule in Britain. It roughly covered the top two thirds of the modern county of Powys and part of the West Midlands. More and based on the Romano-British tribal lands of the Ordovices in the west and the Cornovii in the east, its boundaries extended from the Cambrian Mountains in the west to include the modern West Midlands region of England in the east; the fertile river valleys of the Severn and Tern are found here, this region is referred to in Welsh literature as "the Paradise of Powys". The name Powys is thought to derive from Latin pagus'the countryside' and pagenses'dwellers in the countryside' the origins of French "pays" and English "peasant". During the Roman Empire, this region was organised into a Roman province, with the capital at Viroconium Cornoviorum, the fourth-largest Roman city in Britain. An entry in the Annales Cambriae concerning the death of King Cadell ap Brochfael says that the land called Powys was known as Teyrnllwg.
Throughout the Early Middle Ages, Powys was ruled by the Gwerthrynion dynasty, a family claiming descent jointly from the marriage of Vortigern and Princess Sevira, the daughter of Magnus Maximus. Archaeological evidence has shown that, unusually for the post-Roman period, Viroconium Cornoviorum survived as an urban centre well into the 6th century and thus could have been the Powys capital; the Historia Brittonum, written around AD 828, records the town as Caer Guricon, one of his "28 British Towns" of Roman Britain. In the following centuries, the Powys eastern border was encroached upon by English settlers from the emerging Anglian territory of Mercia; this was a gradual process, English control in the West Midlands was uncertain until the late 8th century. In 549 the Plague of Justinian - an outbreak of a strain of bubonic plague - arrived in Britain, Welsh communities were devastated, with villages and countryside alike depopulated. However, the English were less affected by this plague as they had far fewer trading contacts with the continent at this time.
Faced with shrinking manpower and increasing Anglian encroachment, King Brochwel Ysgithrog may have moved the court from Caer Guricon to Pengwern, the exact site of, unknown but may have been at Shrewsbury, traditionally associated with Pengwern, or the more defensible Din Gwrygon, the hill fort on The Wrekin. In 616, the armies of Æthelfrith of Northumbria clashed with Powys. Seeing an opportunity to further drive a wedge between the North Welsh and those of Rheged, Æthelfrith invaded Powys' northern lands. Æthelfrith defeated Selyf and his allies. At the commencement of the battle, Bede tells us that the pagan Æthelfrith slaughtered 1200 monks from the important monastery of Bangor-on-Dee in Maelor because, he said, "they fight against us, because they oppose us by their prayers". Selyf ap Cynan was killed in the battle and may have been the first of the kings of Powys to be buried at the church dedicated to St. Tysilio, at Meifod, thence known as the Eglwys Tysilio and subsequently the dynasty's Royal mausoleum.
If King Cynddylan of Pengwern hailed from the royal Powys dynasty forces from Powys may have been present at the Battle of Maes Cogwy in 642. According to the ninth-century cycle of englyn-poems Canu Heledd, the region around Pengwern was sacked soon after, its royal family slaughtered and most of its lands were annexed by Mercia, some by Powys. However, this account is now thought to represent ninth-century imaginings of what must have been going on in the seventh, inspired by Powys's political situation in the ninth century. Powys enjoyed a resurgence with successful campaigns against the English in 655, 705-707 and 722, wrote Davies; the court was moved to Mathrafal Castle in the valley of the river Vyrnwy by 717 by king Elisedd ap Gwylog. Elisedd's successes led King Æthelbald of Mercia to build Wat's Dyke; this endeavour may have been with Elisedd's own agreement, for this boundary, extending north from the Severn valley to the Dee estuary, gave Oswestry to Powys. King Offa of Mercia seems to have continued this consultive initiative when he created a larger earth work, now known as Offa's Dyke.
Davies wrote of Cyril Fox's study of Offa's Dyke: In the planning of it, there was a degree of consultation with the kings of Powys and Gwent. On the Long Mountain near Trelystan, the dyke veers to the east, leaving the fertile slopes in the hands of the Welsh, and for Gwent Offa had the dyke built "on the eastern crest of the gorge with the intention of recognizing that the river Wye and its traffic belonged to the kingdom of Gwent. This new border moved Oswestry back to the English side of the new frontier, Offa attacked Powys in 760 at Hereford, again on 778, 784 and 796. Offa's Dyke remained the frontier between the Welsh and English, though the Welsh would recover by the 12th century the area between the Dee and the River Conwy, known as the Perfeddwlad or "Midlands". Powys was united with Gwynedd when king Merfyn Frych of Gwynedd married princess Nest ferch Cadell, sister of king Cyngen of Powys, the last representative of the Gwertherion dynasty. With the death of Cyngen in 855 Rhodri the Great became king of Powys, having inherited Gwynedd the year before.
This formed the basis of Gwynedd's continued claims of overlordship over Powys for the next 443 years. Rhodri the Great ruled over most of modern Wales until his death in 878, his sons would in t
Rhos (North Wales)
Rhos means'moor' or'moorland' in Welsh. It is a region to the east of the River Conwy in north Wales, it started as a minor kingdom became a medieval cantref, was part of the Kingdom of Gwynedd. Rhos is identified as a small kingdom during the sub-Roman and early medieval periods in an Old Welsh genealogical document ‘Ancestry of the Kings and Princes of Wales’ listing thirteen of its kings; the most famous monarch was Cynlas Goch, the son of Owain Ddantgwyn, who lived in the early 6th century and was denounced by the monk, Gildas. He wrote that Cynlas was the “guider of the chariot, the receptacle of the bear“; the latter may refer to a “Fort of the Bear” Dinerth, the name of a hillfort on Bryn Euryn in Llandrillo-yn-Rhos. The road that runs below the western side of the hill is still called Dinerth Road and Dinarth Hall is nearby; the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust have undertaken a trial excavation of this hillfort and set up related information boards in Colwyn Bay Library. Their investigations revealed a massive defensive stone wall, well built and faced with good-quality limestone blocks rising to about ten feet high.
The ramparts were eleven and a half feet thick. These defences are unlike those of Iron Age hillforts but comparable with similar Dark Age fortifications, so may represent a possible stronghold of the Kings of Rhos. By the 11th century, Rhos was part of Gwynedd Is Conwy as an administrative unit known as a cantref. Along with its three adjoining cantrefi, the area was known as Y Berfeddwlad or the'Middle Country' lying between Gwynedd and Powys and changing hands between those two powerful kingdoms. With the loss of Welsh independence in 1283, Rhos became part of the lordship of Denbigh, as granted to the English Earl of Lincoln; the cantrefi were abolished in 1536 with the creation of Denbighshire, but the name of Rhos survives today in places such as Llandrillo-yn-Rhos, Llanelian-yn-Rhos, Penmaen Rhos. Creuddyn was a historic commote or cymwd of Rhos later of Caernarfonshire. Roose Hundred In Search of Ednyfed's Castle
Hywel Dda or Hywel ap Cadell was a King of Deheubarth who came to rule most of Wales. He became the sole king of Seisyllwg in 920 and shortly thereafter established Deheubarth, proceeded to gain control over the entire country from Prestatyn to Pembroke; as a descendant of Rhodri Mawr through his father Cadell, Hywel was a member of the Dinefwr branch of the dynasty. He was recorded as King of the Annals of Ulster. Hywel is esteemed among other medieval Welsh rulers, his name is linked with the codification of traditional Welsh law, which were thenceforth known as the Laws of Hywel Dda. The latter part of his name refers to the fact; the historian Dafydd Jenkins sees in them compassion rather than punishment, plenty of common sense and recognition of the rights of women. Hywel Dda was a well-educated man by modern standards, having a good knowledge of Welsh and English; the office building and original home of the National Assembly for Wales is named Tŷ Hywel in honour of Hywel Dda. The original Assembly chamber, now known as Siambr Hywel, is used for educational courses and for children and young people's debates.
The local health board of south-west Wales bears his name. Hywel was born around the son of King Cadell of Seisyllwg, he had a brother, the younger of the two. Hywel was reputed to have married Elen, the supposed heiress of King Llywarch of Dyfed, which connection was subsequently used to justify his family's reign over that kingdom. Hywel's father Cadell had been installed as King of Seisyllwg by his father, Rhodri the Great of Gwynedd, following the drowning of the last king in the traditional line, Gwgon, in 872. After Gwgon's death, husband to the dead king's sister Angharad, became steward of his kingdom; this gave Rhodri no standing to claim the kingship of Seisyllwg himself, but he was able to install his son Cadell as a subject king. Cadell died around 911, his lands in Seisyllwg appears to have been divided between his two sons Hywel and Clydog. Hywel already controlled Dyfed by the time he assumed his father's lands in Ceredigion. No king is recorded after the death of Llywarch in 904, Hywel's marriage to Llywarch's only surviving heir ensured that the kingdom came into his hands.
Hywel and Clydog seem to have ruled Seisyllwg together following their father's death and jointly submitted to Edward the Elder of England in 918. However, Clydog died in 920. Hywel soon joined Dyfed into a single realm known as Deheubarth; this became the first significant event of his reign. In 926 or 928 Hywel made a pilgrimage to Rome, becoming the first Welsh prince to undertake such a trip and return. Upon his return he forged close relations with Athelstan of England. From the outset Athelstan's intention was to secure the submission of all other kings in Britain. In his reign, he was able to leverage his close association with Athelstan and the English crown to great effect in his ambitions within Wales. In 942 Hywel's cousin Idwal Foel, King of Gwynedd, determined to cast off English overlordship and took up arms against the new English king, Edmund. Idwal and his brother Elisedd were both killed in battle against Edwin's forces. By normal custom Idwal's crown should have passed to his sons.
He sent Iago and Ieuaf into exile and established himself as ruler over Gwynedd, which likely placed him in control of the Kingdom of Powys, under the authority of Gwynedd. As such Hywel became king of nearly all of Wales except for Gwent in the south. In 943 Hywel's wife Elen died. Hywel's reign was a violent one, but he achieved an understanding with Athelstan of England whereby Athelstan and Hywel ruled part of Wales jointly; such was the relationship between the neighbouring countries that Hywel was able to use Athelstan's mint at Chester to produce his own silver pennies. Following Hywel's death in 948, his kingdom was soon split into three. Gwynedd was reclaimed by the sons of Idwal Foel. Hywel’s name is associated with the laws of Medieval wales, which are known as the Laws of Hywel Dda. None of the law manuscripts can be dated to Hywel’s time, but Hywel’s name is mentioned in the prologues to the laws; these describe how Hywel gathered expert lawyers and priests from each commote in Wales together in Tŷ Gwyn ar Daf in order to revise and codify the Laws of Wales.
The story in the prologues lengthens with time, with more details in the versions of the prologue. It seems unlikely that this meeting took place, with the purpose of the prologues being to emphasize the royal and Christian origin and background to the laws, that in the face of criticism of the laws from outside Wales during John Peckham’s period as Archbishop of Canterbury, his name continued to be associated with Welsh law which remained in active use throughout Wales until the appointed date of implementation of the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542 of Henry VIII of England who asserted his royal descent by blood-line from Rhodri Mawr via Hywel Dda. Opinions vary as to the motives for Hywel's close association with the court of Athelstan. J. E. Lloyd claimed Hywel was an admirer of Wessex, while D. P. Kirby suggests that it may have been the action of a pragmatist who recognized the realities of power in mid-10th century Br
A monarchy is a form of government in which a single person holds supreme authority in ruling a country performing ceremonial duties and embodying the country's national identity. Although some monarchs are elected, in most cases, the monarch's position is inherited and lasts until death or abdication. In these cases, the royal family or members of the dynasty serve in official capacities as well; the governing power of the monarch may vary from purely symbolic, to partial and restricted, to autocratic. Monarchy was the most common form of government until the 20th century. Forty-five sovereign nations in the world have monarchs acting as heads of state, sixteen of which are Commonwealth realms that recognise Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state. Most modern monarchs are constitutional monarchs, who retain a unique legal and ceremonial role, but exercise limited or no political power under the nation's constitution. In some nations, such as Brunei, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Eswatini, the hereditary monarch has more political influence than any other single source of authority in the nation, either by tradition or by a constitutional mandate.
The word "monarch" comes from the Greek language word μονάρχης, monárkhēs which referred to a single, at least nominally absolute ruler. In current usage the word monarchy refers to a traditional system of hereditary rule, as elective monarchies are quite rare; the form of societal hierarchy known as chiefdom or tribal kingship is prehistoric. The Greek term monarchia is classical, used by Herodotus; the monarch in classical antiquity is identified as "king" or "ruler" or as "queen". From earliest historical times, with the Egyptian and Mesopotamian monarchs, as well as in reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion, the king held sacral functions directly connected to sacrifice, or was considered by their people to have divine ancestry; the role of the Roman emperor as the protector of Christianity was conflated with the sacral aspects held by the Germanic kings to create the notion of the "divine right of kings" in the Christian Middle Ages. The Chinese and Nepalese monarchs continued to be considered living Gods into the modern period.
Since antiquity, monarchy has contrasted with forms of democracy, where executive power is wielded by assemblies of free citizens. In antiquity, some monarchies were abolished in favour of such assemblies in Rome, Athens. In Germanic antiquity, kingship was a sacral function, the king was directly hereditary for some tribes, while for others he was elected from among eligible members of royal families by the thing; such ancient "parliamentarism" declined during the European Middle Ages, but it survived in forms of regional assemblies, such as the Icelandic Commonwealth, the Swiss Landsgemeinde and Tagsatzung, the High Medieval communal movement linked to the rise of medieval town privileges. The modern resurgence of parliamentarism and anti-monarchism began with the temporary overthrow of the English monarchy by the Parliament of England in 1649, followed by the American Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1789. One of many opponents of that trend was Elizabeth Dawbarn, whose anonymous Dialogue between Clara Neville and Louisa Mills, on Loyalty features "silly Louisa, who admires liberty, Tom Paine and the USA, lectured by Clara on God's approval of monarchy" and on the influence women can exert on men.
Much of 19th-century politics featured a division between anti-monarchist Radicalism and monarchist Conservativism. Many countries abolished the monarchy in the 20th century and became republics in the wake of either World War I, World War II, the Palestine War, or the Cold War. Advocacy of republics is called republicanism. In the modern era, monarchies are more prevalent in small states than in large ones. Monarchies are associated with political or sociocultural hereditary reign, in which monarchs reign for life and the responsibilities and power of the position pass to their child or another member of their family when they die. Most monarchs, both and in the modern day, have been born and brought up within a royal family, the centre of the royal household and court. Growing up in a royal family, future monarchs are trained for their expected future responsibilities as monarch. Different systems of succession have been used, such as proximity of blood and agnatic seniority. While most monarchs have been male, many female monarchs have reigned in history.
Rule may be hereditary in practice without being considered a monarchy: there have been some family dictatorships, some political families in many democracies. The principal advantage of hereditary monarchy is the immediate continuity of leadership; some monarchies are non-hereditary. In an elective monarchy, monarchs are elected, or appointed by some body for life or a defined period, but once appointed they serve as any other monarch. Four elective monarchies exist today: Cambodia, Malaysia and th
Vortiporius or Vortipor was a king of Dyfed in the early to mid-6th century. He ruled over an area corresponding to the modern Pembrokeshire. Records of this era are scant, nothing is known of him or his kingdom; the only contemporary information about the person comes from Gildas, in a allegorical condemnation from his De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae. At the time the work was written, Gildas says that he was king of Dyfed, that he was grey with age, that his wife had died, that he had at least one daughter; as a legendary king in Geoffrey of Monmouth's treatment of the Matter of Britain, the Historia Regum Britanniae, he was the successor of Aurelius Conanus and was succeeded by Malgo. He is not mentioned in the Historia Brittonum attributed to Nennius. Vortiporius appears in the Irish genealogy given in the 8th century work, The Expulsion of the Déisi, with his name given as Gartbuir; the pedigree given in the Harleian MS. 5389 is nearly identical, with his name given as Guortepir. In the Jesus College MS. 20 he is Gwrdeber.
The genealogy in Expulsion says he was a descendant of Eochaid Allmuir, said to have led a sept of the Déisi in their settlement of Dyfed c. 270,A memorial stone was discovered in 1895 near the church of Castell Dwyran in Carmarthenshire bearing a Christian cross and with inscriptions in both Latin and in ogham. Dedicated to Voteporigis in the Latin inscription and Votegorigas in ogham, it was assumed that this referred to Vortiporius. However, the assumption is refuted by modern linguistic analysis, which notes that the missing'r' in the first syllable of'Voteporigis'/'Votegorigas' is significant, so the stone must be dedicated to a different person. In his De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae, written c. 540, Gildas makes an allegorical condemnation of 5 British kings by likening them to the beasts of the Christian Apocalypse as expressed in the biblical Book of Revelation, 13-2: the lion, leopard and dragon. In the course of his condemnations, Gildas makes passing reference to the other beasts mentioned in the Apocalypse, such as the eagle, serpent and wolf.
Vortiporius is called "the spotted leopard" and the "tyrant of the Demetians", where Demetia is the ancient name of Dyfed. Gildas restricts his attention to the kings of Gwynedd, Penllyn, Damnonia/Alt Clud, the unknown region associated with Caninus; these are all Welsh kingdoms except for Alt Clud, which had a long and ongoing relationship with Gwynedd and its kings. The reason for Gildas' disaffection for these individuals is unknown, he was selective in his choice of kings, as he had no comments concerning the kings of the other British kingdoms that were thriving at the time, such as Rheged, Elmet, Pengwern/Powys, or the kingdoms of modern-day southern England. Gildas claims outrage over moral depravity, but neither outrage nor a doctrinal dispute would seem to justify beginning the condemnation of the five kings with a personal attack against the mother of one of the kings, calling her an "unclean lioness". Of Vortiporius Gildas says little other than offering condemnation for "sins" and providing the few personal details mentioned.
He is alleged to be the bad son of a good father. Gildas attacks his daughter, calling her "shameless", implies that Vortiporius raped or had a sexual relationship with her. A c. 5th-6th century monument bearing both Latin and Irish ogham inscriptions is known from Castell Dwyran, Wales. Its Latin inscription reads Memoria Voteporigis Protictoris; the ogham inscription carries only the Goidelic form of his name in the genitive: Votecorigas. Protector in the Latin inscription may imply a Roman-era honorific bestowed upon his ancestors, retained as a hereditary title into the 6th century. However, linguist Eric Hamp questions whether this is a title, suggesting that Protector may rather be a Latin translation of Uoteporix, a "sort of onomastic explanatory gloss"; the ogham inscription in Goidelic shows that the Irish language was still in use at that time, had not yet died out in South Wales. The stone's original location at the church is next to a meadow known locally as Parc yr Eglwys. Local tradition carries the admonition.
Examination of the meadow showed evidence of large hut-circles. There remains a substantial question as to whether the stone refers to Vortiporius or to a named individual,'Voteporigis', as the'r' in the first syllable would give the name different meaning. Rhys argued that the two individuals were the same person, saying that the'r' had been added at a date, offering several suppositions as to how this might have happened. However, he was working before the twentieth century advancements in the study of ancient Celtic languages, his philological conclusions are suspect. More Patrick Sims-Williams notes that the two names cannot refer to the same individual due to differences in their etymologies, adding that dating the stone to the time of Vortiporius may not be valid because it relies on the inexact dating of manuscripts and their transcriptions. Geoffrey's mention of Vortiporius is contained in a brief chapter titled "Uortiporius, being declared king, conquers the Saxons", he says that Uortiporius succeeded Au
Magnus Maximus was Roman Emperor in the western portion of the Empire from 383 to 388. In 383, as commander of Britain, he usurped the throne against emperor Gratian, by negotiation with emperor Theodosius I, he was made emperor in Britannia and Gaul the next year while Gratian's brother Valentinian II retained Italy, Pannonia and Africa. In 387, Maximus's ambitions led him to invade Italy, resulting in his defeat by Theodosius I at the Battle of the Save in 388. In the view of some historians, his death marked the end of direct imperial presence in Northern Gaul and Britain. Maximus was born c. 335 on the estates of Count Theodosius, to whom he was a nephew. Maximus was the brother of Marcellinus. Near contemporaries described his dignity as offended when lesser men were promoted to high positions. Maximus was a distinguished general, it is he may have been a junior officer in Britain in 368, during the quelling of the Great Conspiracy. Assigned to Britain in 380, he defeated an incursion of the Picts and Scots in 381.
The Western emperor Gratian had become unpopular because of perceived favouritism toward Alans--an Iranian speaking people who were early adopters of Christianity and migrated both east and west from their homeland--over Roman citizens. In 383 Maximus was proclaimed emperor by his troops, he went to Gaul to pursue his imperial ambitions, taking a large portion of the British garrison with him. Following his landing in Gaul, Maximus went out to meet his main opponent, emperor Gratian, whom he defeated near Paris. Gratian, after fleeing, was killed at Lyon on August 25, 383. Continuing his campaign into Italy, Maximus was stopped from overthrowing Valentinian II, only twelve, when Theodosius I, the Emperor in the East, sent Flavius Bauto with a powerful force to stop him. Negotiations followed in 384 including the intervention of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, leading to an accord with Valentinian II and Theodosius I in which Maximus was recognized as Augustus in the West. Maximus made his capital at Augusta Treverorum in Gaul, ruled Britain, Gaul and Africa.
He issued a number of edicts reorganizing Gaul's system of provinces. Some scholars believe, he became a popular emperor. He used foederati forces such as the Alamanni to great effect, he was a stern persecutor of heretics. It was on his orders that Priscillian and six companions were executed for heresy, in this case of Priscillianism, although the actual civil charges laid by Maximus himself were for the practice of magic; these executions went ahead despite the wishes of prominent men such as St. Martin of Tours. Maximus's edict of 387 or 388, which censured Christians at Rome for burning down a Jewish synagogue, was condemned by bishop Ambrose, who said people exclaimed, ‘the emperor has become a Jew’. In 387 Maximus managed to force emperor Valentinian II out of Milan, after which he fled to Theodosius I. Theodosius and Valentinian invaded from the east, campaigned against Maximus in July–August 388, their troops being led by Richomeres and other generals. Maximus was defeated in the Battle of the Save, retreated to Aquileia.
Meanwhile, the Franks under Marcomer had taken the opportunity to invade northern Gaul, at the same time further weakening Maximus's position. Andragathius, magister equitum of Maximus and the killer of Emperor Gratian, was defeated near Siscia, while Maximus's brother, fell in battle at Poetovio. Maximus surrendered in Aquileia, although he pleaded for mercy was executed; the Senate passed a decree of Damnatio memoriae against him. However, his mother and at least two daughters were spared. Theodosius's trusted general Arbogast strangled Maximus's son, Flavius Victor, at Trier in the fall of the same year. What happened to Maximus's family after his downfall is not recorded, he is known to have had a wife, recorded as having sought spiritual counsel from St. Martin of Tours during his time at Trier, her ultimate fate, her name, have not been preserved in definitive historic records. The same is true of Maximus's mother and daughters, other than that they were spared by Theodosius I. One of Maximus's daughters may have been married to Ennodius, proconsul Africae.
Ennodius's grandson was Petronius Maximus, another ill-fated emperor, who ruled in Rome for only 77 days before he was stoned to death while fleeing from the Vandals on May 24, 455. Other descendants of Ennodius, thus of Maximus, included Anicius Olybrius, emperor in 472, but several consuls and bishops such as St. Magnus Felix Ennodius. We encounter an otherwise unrecorded daughter of Magnus Maximus, Sevira, on the Pillar of Eliseg, an early medieval inscribed stone in Wales which claims her marriage to Vortigern, king of the Britons. Maximus's bid for imperial power in 383 coincides with the last date for any evidence of a Roman military presence in Wales, the western Pennines, the fortress of Deva. Coins dated than 383 have been found in excavations along Hadrian's Wall, suggesting that troops were not stripped from it, as was once thought. In the De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae written c. 540, Gildas says that Maximus "deprived" Britain not only of its Roman troops, but of its "armed bands...governors and of the flower of her youth", never to return.
Having left with the tro