Cunedda or Cunedag Wledig (the Imperator) was a northern British chieftain, a sub-King of Gododdin who ruled Manau Gododdin on the Firth of Forth around Clackmannan. Not much is known about his life in the North, though an ancient poem generally known as the Marwnad Cunedda records his wars against the kingdoms of Coel Hen and his descendants, when "the forts will tremble.....in Caer Weir [supposedly Durham] and Caer Liwelydd [Carlisle]". Cunedda's paternal ancestors bore Roman names for three generations, including Paternus of the Red Robe, a name which has brought suggestions that the family ruled North of Hadrian's Wall in some sort of official Roman capacity. His maternal grandmother was supposedly the grandaughter of Conan Meriadoc, male heir of the legendary Welsh King, Eudaf Hen. He was therefore chosen by the northern Welsh to help them in their fight against the invading Irish. Nennius reports:
Maelgwn, the great king, was reigning among the Britons in the region of Gwynedd, for his ancester Cunedag, with his sons, whose number was eight, had come previously from the northern part, that is from the region which is called Manau Gododdin, one hundred and forty-six years before Maelgwn reigned. And with great slaughter they drove out from those regions the Scotti who never returned again to inhabit them.
The Harleian MS 3859 further tells us:
These are the names of the sons of Cunedda, whose number was nine: Tybion, the first-born, who died in the region called Manau Gododdin and did not come hither with his father and his aforesaid brothers. Meirion, his son, divided the possessions among his [Tybion's] brothers. 2. Ysfael, 3. Rhufon, 4. Dunod, 5. Ceredig, 6. Afloeg, 7. Einion Yrth, 8. Dogfael, 9. Edern. This is their boundary: from the river which is called Dyfrdwy [the Dee] , to another river, the Teifi; and they held very many districts in the western part of Britain.
Other sons, generally considered more legendary, may have included Gwron, Mael, Coel and Arwystl. Daughters were Tegeingl and Gwen, the wife of Amlawdd Wledig.
It seems clear therefore that Cunedda and his warbands rode clean across Britain to assist their Western cousins. Soon only Llyn, Arfon, Arllechwedd and the majority of Anglesey remained in Irish hands. Cunedda also took raiding parties further south and expelled the Ui Liathain from Gwyr, Cedweli and parts of Dyfed. He finally settled down in Rhos which was the original heartland of Gwynedd. His family founded a number of Royal dynasties in the regions now named after his many sons: Meirionydd, Ysfeilion, Rhufoniog, Dunoding, Ceredigion, Afflogion, Dogfeiling and Edeyrnion.
The main question in Cunedda's life concerns the date of these events. PC Bartrum suggests a timeframe no earlier than AD 370 and no later than AD 430. The latter date appears to conform to the general consensus of opinion, though a little later is possible. Perhaps the western migration of Cunedda and his men was part of the distinct policy of a High-King like Vortigern Vorteneu. The figure of one hundred and forty-six years before King Maelgwn Gwynedd's reign, on the other hand, might suggest a period around the 380s. A Roman mercenary movement following Magnus Maximus' troop withdrawal has been suggested, though indications of his son's rule in the area would contradict this possibility.
Records of Cunedda date back to the 9th century. Whether he is considered historic or not is quite contraversial.
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