Owen Glendower

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Owen Glendower

(glĕn`dou'ər, glĕndou`ər), Welsh Owain Glyndwr, 1359?–1416?, Welsh national leader. A scion of the princes of Powys, he was also claimant through his mother to the lands of Rhys ap GruffyddRhys ap Gruffydd
, 1132?–1197, ruler of South Wales and, after the death (1170) of Owain Gwynedd, leader of the Welsh princes. The failure (1165) of the English troops under Henry II in Wales and Henry's later domestic troubles contributed to Rhys's power.
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; he was thus one of the most powerful lords in Wales. After studying law in London and fighting in the English army, he returned to Wales. In 1400 he emerged as the leader of a revolt against English rule. The immediate occasion was a quarrel with his neighbor Lord Grey of Ruthin, an English border baron; but deeper causes of the national upheaval that followed lay in Welsh antagonism toward their English overlords, Welsh resentment of unjust English laws and administration, and widespread economic discontent. Owen, proclaimed (1400) prince of Wales by his followers, kept the revolt against Henry IVHenry IV,
1367–1413, king of England (1399–1413), eldest son of John of Gaunt and grandson of Edward III; called Henry of Bolingbroke. He founded the Lancastrian dynasty.
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 of England burning for years. In 1402 he captured Sir Edmund de MortimerMortimer, Sir Edmund de,
1376–1409, English nobleman; youngest son of Edmund de Mortimer, 3d earl of March. In 1398 when young Edmund, the 5th earl, nephew of Sir Edmund, succeeded to the title while still a minor, Sir Edmund became the most powerful representative of his
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, whose nephew the 5th earl of March had a claim to the English throne, and secured his support. He then allied himself with the discontented Percy family (Sir Henry PercyPercy, Sir Henry,
1366–1403, English nobleman, called Hotspur or Henry Hotspur; son of Henry Percy, 1st earl of Northumberland. In 1388 he participated in the famous battle of Otterburn, or Chevy Chase, against the Scots; he was captured but later ransomed, and he returned
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; his father, Henry Percy, 1st earl of NorthumberlandNorthumberland, Henry Percy, 1st earl of,
1342–1408, English nobleman. He fought in France in the Hundred Years War, became warden of the Scottish Marches, and was a supporter of John Wyclif.
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; and Thomas Percy, earl of WorcesterWorcester, Thomas Percy, earl of
, c.1344–1403, English nobleman; brother of Henry Percy, 1st earl of Northumberland. He served with considerable success in the wars in France and Spain, especially as admiral of the fleet of the north, a position to which he was appointed
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). The defeat of the Percys at the battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 (in which Owen did not take part) was only a temporary setback for the Welsh leader. The following year he displayed his skill as a daring guerrilla fighter by capturing the key castles of Aberystwyth and Harlech. He was recognized by Charles VI of France, with whom he made (1404) an alliance, and summoned (1405) his own parliament. However, the failure of an expedition from France on his behalf (1405–6) weakened him, and the recapture by the English of Aberystwyth (1408) and Harlech (1409) left him powerless. He disappeared into the mountains and refused to take advantage of the general amnesty offered by Henry V.


See biography by G. Williams (1966).

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Glendower, Owen

Welsh ally of the Percys; his boastfulness antagonizes Hotspur. [Br. Lit.: I Henry IV]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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