Prince of Dyfed
Pendeuic Dyfed was lord of the seven cantrefs of
Dyfed. Once upon a time he was at Arberth, a chief
court of his, and he was seized by the thought and
the desire to go hunting. The part of his country
in which he wished to hunt was Glyn Cuch. He set
that evening from Arberth, coming as far Pen Llwyn
Diarwya, and there he spent the night.
The next morning, in the
young of the day, he arose and came to Glyn Cuch to
let loose his dogs beneath the wood. He sounded his
horn and he began to muster the hunt, chasing after
the dogs and becoming separated from his companions.
As he listened out for
the cry of the pack he heard the cry of another pack,
with a different bark, coming to meet his own. He could
see a clearing in the wood, like a smooth field, and
as his pack was reaching the edge of the clearing,
he could see a stag at the head of the other pack.
And in the middle of the clearing, there was the pack
catching it up and bringing it to ground.
Then he caught sight of
the colour of the pack, barely noticing the stag itself.
Of all the hunting dogs he had seen in this world,
he had never seen dogs the same colour as those. The
colouring they had was a dazzling bright white and
with red ears. As bright was the dazzling whiteness
as the brightness of the red.
At that he came up to
the dogs and drove off the pack which had killed the
stag, and [let] his own dogs feed on the stag instead.
While he was busy feeding
his dogs like this, he could see a horseman coming
after the pack on a huge, dapple-grey horse; with a
hunting-horn around his neck and a garment of brownish
grey material around him as a hunting smock. The horsemen
approached him thereupon, speaking to him thus:
'Chieftain,' he said
'I know who you are, but greet you I will not.'
'Aye,' said Pwyll 'perhaps
you are so important you don't have to?'
'God knows' he replied
'its not the dignity of my rank that's restraining
'What is it then, Chieftain?'
'Between me and God, its
your rudeness and discourtesy.'
'Chieftain, what discourtesy
have I committed in your eyes?'
'I've never seen a greater
discourtesy by a man than driving off a pack which
has killed a stag, and [then] feeding your own dogs
on it. That' said he 'was the discourtesy, and though
I won't be revenging myself on you, between me and
God, I will be claiming dishonour from you to the value
of a hundred stags.'
'Chieftain, if I've committed
an offence, I will redeem your friendship.'
'In what form will you
'As appropriate to your
rank - I don't know who you are...'
'A crowned king am I in
the land I am from.'
'Lord,' said Pwyll 'good
day to you. Which land is it that you are from?'
'From Annwvyn. Arawn
king of Annwfn am I.'
'Lord, how might I obtain
'This is how you might
obtain it: there is a man whose kingdom borders on
my kingdom, who is constantly at war with me. He is
Hafgan king of Annwfn. The removal of this oppression
from me - which you can do easily - will win you my
'For my part I would do
that gladly. Tell me by what means I can do that.'
'I'll tell you. You can
do it like this: I will make a strong bond of friendship
with you. I'll do that by giving you my place in Annwfn,
and I'll give you the most beautiful woman you have
ever seen to sleep with every night, and my form and
appearance will be upon you so that neither the chamber-boy
nor the steward nor anybody else that has ever served
me will know that you are not I. And,' he continued
'it will be that way until the end of a year from tomorrow,
and we'll meet again at this very place.'
'Aye,' he responded 'although
I'm going to be there until the end of the year, what
advice do I have about finding this man that you speak
'A year from tonight,'
said [Arawn] 'there is a meeting between him and myself
at the ford. You will be there in my guise, and a single
blow you must give him: he will not survive it. And
even if he asks you to give him another, you mustn't.
For despite any more [blows] I [ever] gave him, he
was always able to fight back just as well the next
'Aye,' said Pwyll 'but
what am I to do with my country?'
'I can bring it about
that there will not be a man or a woman in your country
who will not know that I am not you: I will go in your
'Very well,' said Pwyll
'I will be on my way.'
'Unimpeded will be your
path, and nothing will get in your way until you reach
my country: I will guide you to it.'
He guided him on his way
until he could see the court and the out-houses. 'There'
he said 'the court and the country under your rule.
Go to the court: there won't be anyone there who doesn't
recognise you; and as you watch the service therein,
you will learn the manners of the court.'
He approached the court,
and in the court he could see sleeping quarters, halls,
chambers with the most beautiful decoration on the
buildings anyone had ever seen. He went into the
hall to pull off his boots. Retainers and servant-boys
came up to pull off his boots, and everyone greeted
him as they approached. Two knights removed his hunting-garb
from around him, and clothed him in a garment of gold
brocaded silk. The hall was prepared. [Then] lo
and behold - he saw the household and hostings coming
inside - the most exalted and refined host anyone had
ever seen. And behind them the queen - the most beautiful
woman anyone had ever seen - a garment of shining gold
brocaded silk was around her. At that they went to
wash, and made for the tables and sat down in the following
way: the queen on one side of him and the earl (as
he supposed) on the other. And he began a conversation
with the queen. From talking to her he could see that
she was the most unassuming woman her had ever [met],
and the most genteel in her manner and conversation. They passed the time with food and drink, singing
and carousing. Of all the courts he had ever seen on
this earth, here was the best with food and drink and
gold vessels and royal jewels.
Time came for them to
go to bed - and to bed they went, himself and the queen.
The moment they got into to the bed, he turned his
face to the side, with his back towards her. From then
until the next day, he didn't say a single word to
her. The next day there was tenderness and affectionate
conversation between them. [But] whatever fondness
there might have been between them during the day,
there was not a single night that wasn't like the first.
He passed the year in
hunting, singing, dancing, friendship and conversation
with his companions until the night that the engagement
was [to be]. The date of that night came as clearly
to the memory of the farthest man in the land as it
did to he himself. He went to the appointment, along
with the nobles of the country. As soon as he came
to the ford, a horseman rode up and spoke thus:
'Good men,' said he 'listen
well. Between [these] two kings is this appointment,
and that between their two persons [only]. Each one
is a claimant against the other, over issues of land
and territory. May all [the rest] of you stand back,
and let [the fight] be between them [alone].'
At that the two kings
closed in on one another to the middle of the ford
for their encounter. At the first onslaught the king
who was in the place of Arawn struck Hafgan in
the middle of the boss of his shield, so it split in
two halves and all his armour was broken and Hafgan
was a spear-and-arms length over the back of his horse
and onto the ground, with a mortal wound upon him.
'Chieftain,' said Hafgan
'what right have you to my death? I was not bringing
any claim against you, I do not know why you are killing
me either; but by God', he said 'since you have begun
my death, finish it [now]!'
'Chieftain,' he replied
'it may be that I would regret doing what I did to
you. Find someone [else] to kill you; [but] I will
not kill you.'
'My faithful peers,' said
Hafgan 'carry me away from here. The conclusion of
my death is truly upon me. I am in no condition to
uphold you any more.'
'Peers of mine' said the
man who was in the place of Arawn 'take a reckoning,
and find out those [out there] who owe me allegiance.'
'Lord, everybody owes
you [allegiance], as there is [now] no other king in
the whole of Annwfn but yourself.'
'Aye' said he '[for those]
who come in peace, the reception will be just. Whoever
does not come compliantly, let them be impelled by
force of arms.' Then he took homage from the men, and
began to take possession of the land, and by noon the
next day both the two kingdoms were in his power. At
that he made for his meeting place and came to Glyn
Cuch. When he got there Arawn was awaiting him. Each
greeted the other.
'Well,' said Arawn 'God
repay you for your friendship. I have heard all about
'Aye' he replied 'when
you come yourself to your country you will see what
I have done for you.'
'Whatever you have done
for me, may God repay you.'
Arawn then gave Pwyll
Pendeuic Dyuet [back] his own form and his appearance,
while he for his part took back his own form and appearance.
Arawn went towards his court in Annwfn and rejoiced
on seeing his host and his household, having not seen
them for [such] a long time. They, however, knew nothing
of his absence and were no more surprised at his arrival
than before. He passed that day with cheerfulness and
merriment, sitting talking to his wife and his noblemen.
When it became more timely to sleep than to carouse,
[off] they went to bed.
He made for the bed, and
his wife came with him. The first thing he did was
talk with his wife and join in sensual pleasure and
love-making with her. She had not been used to that
for a year, and that is what she thought. 'O God,'
she wondered 'what is the different mind that is in
him tonight, [so different] from that which has been
in him for the last year?' She lay in thought for a
long time. After that, he woke up and tried speaking
to her once, twice, and a third time. No answer could
he get from her.
'Why won't you speak to
'I tell you,' she replied
'for a year I have not spoken even so much anywhere
'Why,' said he 'we've
been talking all the time.'
'Shame on me,' she replied
'[but] for the last year, from whenever we were enfolded
in bed clothes there has been no affection, no conversation,
nor you even turning your face towards me: let alone
anything other than which might have happened between
Then he began thinking.
'Lord God,' he said to himself 'a uniquely strong and
unwavering friend is the one with whom I have made
He then spoke to his wife:
'Lady,' he said 'You mustn't blame me. Between me and
God, I haven't slept with you for a year since last
night, nor have I laid down [here].' And he told her
the whole story.
'By my confession to God,'
said she 'a strong hold you have on your friend, for
warding off bodily temptation, and keeping faith with
'That was what I was thinking
while I was silent with you.'
'No wonder,' she replied.
As for Pwyll Pendevic,
he came to his country and his lands and began asking
the noblemen of his realm how his lordship had been
for the last year, compared to what it had been before.
'Lord,' said they 'never
was your knowledge so good, never was there a more
likable fellow than yourself, never were you so free
in spending your goods and never was your ruling better
than during this year.'
'Between myself and God,'
he replied 'it would be better for you to thank the
man who [really] was with you [last year]. Here is
the story, even as it was.' And Pwyll told it all to
'Aye, Lord,' said they
' thank God for giving you that friendship. And the
lordship we had that year, I'm sure you won't take
that away from us .'
'I will not take it away,
between me and God'
And thenceforth a strong
friendship began between them, each giving the other
horses, greyhounds, hawks and any other kind of treasure
he thought might me pleasing to the mind of his fellow.
And because of his sorjourn that year in Annwfn, and
his kingship [which had been] so prosperous there,
and the forging of two kingdoms into one through his
resilience and his fighting-power: the name 'Pwyll
Pendevic Dyfed' fell out of use and he became known
as 'Pwyll Pen Annwvyn' from then on.
Once upon a time he
[i.e. Pwyll] was in Arbeth, a chief court of his, with
a feast laid out and great hosts of men all around
him. After the first course, Pwyll got up to go for
a walk and made for the top of a mound which was above
the court and was called Gorsedd Arbeth.
'Lord', said one of the
court 'it is a peculiarity of the mound that whatever
high-born man might sit upon it, he will not go away
without one of two things: either wounds or blows,
or his witnessing a marvel.'
'I have no fear of wounds
or blows in the midst of this host. A marvel, however,
I would be glad to see. I will go,' he continued '
and sit on this mound'. And he went to sit on the mound.
As they were seated, they
could see a woman on a large stately pale-white horse,
a garment of shining gold brocaded silk about her,
making her way along the track which went past the
mound. The horse had an even, leisurely pace; and
she was drawing level with the mound it seemed to all
those who were watching her.
'Men' said Pwyll ' is
there any of you who recognizes that lady on horseback
'There is not, my Lord,'
'One [of you] go up to
her to find out who she is' he said.
One [man] got up, but
when he came onto the road to meet her, she had [already]
gone past. He went after her as fast as he was able
to on foot, but the greater was his speed, the further
away from him she became. When he could see that
following her was to no avail, he returned to Pwyll
and said to him [the following words]:
'Lord, it is no use anyone
in the world [trying] to follow her on foot.'
'Aye,' said Pwyll 'go
back to the court, and take the fastest horse that
you know, and go after her.'
He took the horse and
off he went. He got to smooth open country, and he
began to set his spurs to the horse; but the more he
struck the horse, the further away she became. Yet
she still had the same pace with which she had begun.
His horse flagged, and when he noticed his horse's
slackening pace, he returned to Pwyll.
'Lord,' said he 'it is
no use following that Lady over there. I haven't known
any horse in the land faster than this one, but [even
on this] following her was to no avail.'
'Aye' said Pwyll 'there
is some kind of a magical meaning to this. Let
us go [back] to the court.'
[So] they went [back]
to the court, and passed the rest of that day. The
next day they arose and that [too] passed until it
was the hour to eat. After the first meal [Pwyll spoke
'We will go - the company
that we were yesterday - to the top of the mound. And
you,' he said to one his retainers 'take with you the
fastest horse you know in the field.' And that the
retainer did. They [then] made for the mound with the
And, as they were sitting,
they could see the woman on the same horse, with the
same apparel about her, coming up the same road.
'Look!' said Pwyll 'here
comes the lady on horseback. Be ready, boy, to
find out who she is.'
'Lord, that I'll do gladly.'
Thereupon, the lady on
horseback drew level. The boy then mounted his horse,
but before he had [even] settled in the saddle, she
had already gone past, and there was a distance between
them. Her pace was no different from the day before.
He [too] put his pace at an amble, supposing as he
did that however slowly his horse went, he might be
able to overtake her. But it was no use. He loosed
his at the reins, but got no nearer than if he had
been on foot; and the more he beat his horse, the further
away she became. [Yet] her pace was no greater than
before. Since he saw it was useless [trying] to follow
her, he returned, coming back to Pwyll.
'Lord,' said he 'there
is no more this horse can do than what you have seen.'
'[So] I saw' replied [Pwyll]
' its pointless anyone pursuing her. But between me
and God,' he continued 'she has a message for someone
on this plain, if obstinacy would [only] allow her
to say it. Let us go back to the court.'
They came [back] to the
court and spent the evening in song and carousel as
The next morning, they
passed the day until it was the hour to eat. When they
had finished the meal Pwyll announced 'Where is that
group of us that went up on the mound yesterday and
the day before?'
'Here [we are], my Lord'
'Let us go [then],' said
he 'to sit upon the mound. And you' he said to his
stable-boy 'saddle my horse well and bring him to the
path, and bring my spurs with you.' And that the boy
They came to sit on the
mound. They had hardly been there any time before they
caught sight of the lady on horseback, coming along
the same path, with the same apparel, at the same pace.
'Ah, boy, I can see the
lady on horseback coming!' said Pwyll 'Bring me my
Pwyll mounted his horse,
and no sooner than he had done so, she had passed him
by. He turned after her, and let his lively horse prance
at its own pace. He guessed that he would catch her
up on the second or third bound. [But] no nearer did
he get to her than [any of the times] before. He spurred
on the horse as fast as it could go. But he saw it
was useless following her [in this way].
Then Pwyll spoke: 'Maiden,'
he said 'for the sake of the man you love the best,
wait for me!'
'Gladly I'll wait' said
she 'but it might have been better for the horse if
you had asked me a good while before.'
The maiden stopped and
waited and drew aside the part of her headdress that
was there to cover her face. She looked him in the
eye, initiating conversation with him.
'Lady,' he asked 'where
are you from? And where are you going?'
'Going about my business'
said she 'and glad I am to see you.'
'And you are also welcome
to me,' said he.
And he realized at that
moment the faces of every woman and girl he had ever
seen were dull in comparison to her face.
'Lady,' he asked 'can
you tell me something of your business?'
'Between myself and God
I'll tell you,' said she 'my chief business was to
try and see you.'
'Well,' said Pwyll 'this
is the best business you could have come on as far
as I'm concerned. And will you tell me who you are?'
'I will tell you, my Lord,'
she replied 'I am Rhiannon, daughter of Hyfaidd the
Old, and I am being given to a man against my will.
For my part, I do not wish for the love of any man,
because of the love I have for you. I still do not
want this [other] man, unless you refuse me. And it
is to find out your answer to this that I have come.'
'Between myself and God,
this is my answer to you' he replied 'If I was given
the choice out of all of the women and girls of this
world, it is you that I would choose.'
'Aye' said she 'if that
is your wish, before I am given to another man, make
an appointment with me.'
'The sooner the better,
as far as I'm concerned,' said Pwyll 'in whatever
place you wish; make the appointment.'
'I will make it, Lord,
one year from now, at the court of Hyfaidd the Old'
she replied 'I will order the preparation of a feast
ready for your arrival
'Gladly' said he 'I will
be at that appointment.'
'Lord,' she said 'farewell,
and remember to keep your promise. I will be on my
They parted and he went
back to his household and his host. Whatever questions
they might have had about the maiden, he would change
After that they passed
the year until the [appointed] time, and [then] Pwyll
equipped himself as one of a hundred riders. He went
over to the court of Hyfaidd Hen. He came to the court
and there was joy at his arrival. He was met by
a throng and a jubilation, and great preparations were
made for his arrival: all the resources of the court
were expended according to his direction. The hall
was prepared, and they went to the tables. This is
how they sat: Hyfaidd Hen on one side of Pwyll with
Rhiannon on the other, and then everyone according
to his rank. And they began to eat, drink and converse.
As they started [their]
after-dinner drinking, they saw coming inside an
auburn-haired youth: tall and of princely demeanour,
with a garment of brocaded silk about his person. And
when he came to the upper part of the hall he greeted
Pwyll and his companions.
'God's welcome to you,
my friend' said Pwyll 'come and sit down.'
'I will not [sit down],'
said the youth 'I am a petitioner, and I will deliver
'Please do so,' said Pwyll.
'Lord, it is for you I
have a request, and to ask you for it I have come.'
'Whatever boon you put
to me, as far as I am able to get it, it will be yours.'
'Och!' said Rhiannon 'why
do you give such an answer?'
'That is how he has given
it, Lady, in the presence of nobles,' said the other.
'Friend,' said Pwyll 'what
is your boon?'
'You are [about] to sleep
with the woman whom I love the most tonight. And it
is to ask for her, [along] with the provisions and
victuals which are here that I have come.'
Pwyll fell silent, for
there was not an answer he could give.
'Be dumb as long as you
like,' said Rhiannon 'there was never a man so slow
with his wits as you were [just] then.'
'Lady,' he said 'I didn't
know who he was.'
'This is the man to whom
they wanted to give me against my will,' said she 'Gwawl
son of Clud, a man rich in hosts and lands. And
since you have said the words that you said, you have
to give me to him to prevent dishonour.'
'Lady,' said he 'I don't
know what kind of answer that is. I could never on
my life [do] what you say.'
'Give me to him,' said
Rhiannon 'and I will make it so that he can never have
'How will that be?' asked
'I will put a small bag
in your hand: keep that with you safely. He is asking
for the feast and the provisions and the victuals.
But those are not under your sovereignty. I myself
gave the feast to the household and the hosts, and
that will be your answer regarding that.'
'As for myself,' she continued
'I will arrange a tryst with him, one year from tonight,
to sleep with me [then]. At the end of the year you
will be in the orchard up there, with this bag and
a hundred horsemen. When he is in the midst of his
merriment and carousal, you come inside wearing shabby
clothes and with the bag in your hand.
'I will bring it about'
said she 'that whatever food and drink from these seven
cantrefsis put inside it, it will be no more full
than before. And after so much has been thrown
in, he will ask if your bag will ever be full. You
will say it will not unless a noble lord over many
lands should arise and press his feet down on the food
in the bag and say "Enough has been placed herein." And I will make him go and step on the food in the bag. And when he goes in,
turn the bag over until he goes head over [heels] into
the bag. Then tie a knot on the strings of the bag.
And let there be a good hunting-horn about your neck.
When he is tied up in the bag, give a blast on the
horn - it can be a signal from you to your men - when
they hear the sound of the horn, they can descend on
'Lord,' said Gwawl 'It
is high time I got an answer to my request.'
'Whatever you requested,'
said Pwyll 'that is under my sovereignty, you can take.'
'Friend,' said Rhiannon
'about the food and the provisions here; these I have
given to the men of Dyfed and the household and hosts
that are here. I cannot all them to be give away to
anyone [else]. One year from now, however, a feast
will be provided in this court for you, my friend,
to [celebrate] sleeping with me.'
Gwawl went [back] over
to his land. Pwyll, for his part, came [back] to Dyfed.
Each passed the rest of the year until it was time
for the feast at the Court of Hyfaidd Hen. Gwawl son
of Clud came along to the feast had been prepared for
him, and made for the court, and there was joy at his
arrival. As for Pwyll, the Head of Annwfn, he came
to the orchard in a group of a hundred horsemen, just
as Rhiannon had commanded him to do, the bag with him.
Pwyll had clothed himself in dull rags and put big
rag-boots on his feet. When he became aware that
the after-dinner drinking had begun he proceeded into
the hall, and after he had crossed to the upper part
of the hall, greeted Gwawl and his company of men
'God give well to you!'
said Gwawl 'and may the welcome of God be upon you.'
'Lord,' he replied 'may
God repay you. I am before you with a request.'
'Your request is welcome,'
said he 'and if it is a modest boon which you have
to ask of me, then I will gladly grant it.'
'[It is] modest, my lord,'
he replied 'I ask nothing but relief from starvation.
This is the boon I ask: the filling of the little bag
you can see with food.'
'That is a humble boon,'
said the other 'and one which you will get, gladly.
Bring him food!' he commanded.
A large number of courtiers
got up and began to fill the bag. Yet however much
they threw in, it was no more full than before.
'Friend,' said Gwawl 'will
your bag ever be full?'
'Between me and God, it
will not,' he replied 'however much is put therein
- unless a man noble with land, territory and domains
gets up and treads with both feet and says "enough has been placed herein".'
'O hero,' said Rhiannon
'get up right away!'
'I'll get up gladly,'
He got up and put his
two feet into the bag. Pwyll turned the bag so that
Gwawl was head [over heels] in the bag and quickly
closing the bag he tied up the strings in a knot and
gave a blast on his horn. At that, his household fell
on the court and seized everyone from the host that
had come with Gwawl, and took each one prisoner.
Pwyll threw off his rags, his old boots and the shabby
garment in which he had been clad.
As each one of his host
came inside, each one of them would strike a blow to
the bag, and ask: 'What is in the bag?', 'A badger,'
the others would reply.
They played a game like
this: each one striking a blow with his foot and his
staff. In such a way they made sport of the bag.
As each one came, he would
ask 'What game are you playing there?'
be the reply.
And that was the first
time Badger in the Bag was ever played.
'Lord,' said the man from
the bag 'if you would hear me - this is not a fitting
death for me - to be slaughtered in a bag.'
'Lord,' said Hyfaidd [to
Pwyll] 'He speaks the truth. It is legitimate that
you should hear him - that is not a fitting way for
[this man] to die.'
'Aye,' said Pwyll 'I will
follow your council about this.'
'Here is your counsel:'
suggested Rhiannon 'You are now in at a juncture where
it is proper to give satisfaction to both petitioners
and minstrels. Leave him there to give to all on your
behalf,' she continued 'and take guarantees against
his making a claim or pursuing revenge. That will be
punishment enough for him.'
'He will take that gladly,'
said the man in the bag.
'And gladly I will accept
it as well,' replied Pwyll 'by the counsel of Hyfaidd
'That is our counsel'
'[In that case] I will
accept it,' said Pwyll 'Take [some] guarantors for
'We will stand on his
behalf,' said Hyfaidd 'until his men are free to represent
Thereupon he was released
from the bag and his top men set free.
'Now[you must] take guarantors
from Gwawl' said Hyfaidd 'we acknowledge those who
should be taken from him.' Hyfaidd then ennumerated
the [name and rank] of the guarantors.
'Formulate the conditions
yourself,' said Gwawl 'on your own terms.'
'The way Rhiannon formulated
[the conditions]' said Pwyll 'is good enough for me.'
The guarantors went on
'Aye, Lord,' said Gwawl
'I am injured and have received great wounds, and I
need a bath. With your leave, I will be on my way.
I will leave some noblemen in my stead who will answer
to all who petition you.'
'Gladly,' replied Pwyll
'you do that.'
And Gwawl went back to
The hall was then set
out for Pwyll, his host, and the host of the court.
They came to sit at the tables: and as they had been
seated the previous year, so they sat down that evening.
They ate and drank, and when the time was right they
went off to sleep. Pwyll and Rhiannon went to the chamber,
and passed the night in pleasure and satisfaction.
The following morning,
in the young of the day, Rhiannon said to Pwyll:
'Lord, get up and begin
the indulgence of the minstrels, and don't refuse anyone
today what they might desire [of you].'
'I'll do that gladly'
said Pwyll, 'both today and every other day while this
feast still lasts.'
Then Pwyll got up and
ordered silence for the asking of any petitions the
minstrels might have, and granted the satisfaction
of each according of them to his will and his fancy.
And that was done. The feast was consumed and nothing
denied while it endured.
When the feast was drawing
to a close, Pwyll said to Hyfaidd 'Lord, with your
blessing, I will be setting off back to Dyfed tomorrow.'
'Aye' said Hyfaidd, 'may
God smooth your way. Arrange a time after which Rhiannon
'Between God and myself,'
said Pwyll 'it is together that we will travel from
'And it is your wish,
Lord, [to do it] this way?'
'In [just] this way, between
God and myself.' replied Pwyll.
So they set off for Dyfed,
and made for the court of Arbeth, and a feast was laid
out for them there. A throng of noblemen and noble
women from [throughout] the land and the nation came
to them. Neither man nor woman of them left Rhiannon
without bestowing upon them [some kind of] special
gift: either a broach, a ring, or a stone of great
They ruled the country
prosperously for [the rest of] that year and the next.
In the third year the
men of the land began to feel a heaviness of spirit,
seeing a man [i.e. Pwyll]
whom they loved so much as their lord and foster-brother
being without an heir. [So] they summoned him to
them. The place where they convened was the Precelli
[mountains] in Dyfed.
'Lord,' said they 'we
know that you may not be of an age of some men in this
land, and it is our fear that there may never be
an heir [born] to you from that woman who you are with.
Take another wife instead, from whom an heir might
be born. You will not last for ever,' they continued
'and wish as you may to remain being like this, we
will not allow you.'
'Aye,' said Pwyll 'it
is not long since we have been together, and there
are still many chances which may yet befall. Give me
respite until the end of the year. We will arrange
an appointment to come re-convene a year from this
time, and I will place myself before your judgement.'
[So] they made the appointment.
Before the end of that
time arrived, a boy was born to him - and it was in
Arbeth that he was born. On the night of his birth,
[some] women were brought in to keep watch over the
boy and his mother. Now the women dropped off to sleep,
along with the mother, and the son of Rhiannon. Six
was the number of the women who had been brought to
that chamber. They kept watch for part of the night
but before the midnight hour every one of them had
fallen asleep - only to wake up again towards the cock-crow.
As soon as they awoke, they started searching the place
where they had left the boy: but nothing was to be
'Och,' said one of the
women 'the boy is lost for sure.'
'Aye,' said another 'we
would be lucky to get away with merely being burned
or put to death over that boy.'
'Is there any way in the
world out of this?' asked another of the women.
'There is' said the next
'I can think of a good way out.'
'What is that?' asked
'There is a female stag-hound
[around] here,' she explained 'with puppies. Let's
kill one of the puppies, and smear some of its blood
on the face of Rhiannon, and each of her hands and
leave its bones in front of her, and accuse her of
killing the baby herself. Against the word of the
six of us, her word alone will not stand."
And that was the plan
that was agreed.
Towards day, Rhiannon
'Women,' she asked 'where
is the boy?'
'O Lady,' they replied
'Don't you ask us about the boy. We're nothing but
bruises and wounds from struggling with you: it is
certain to us that we have never seen such violence
in a woman as there was in you (last night), and struggling
with you was no use. It was you that destroyed the
baby yourself! Don't ask for him from us.'
'Oh wretched creatures,'
exclaimed Rhiannon 'for the sake of Lord God who knows
all things, don't put this falsehood onto me. God who
knows all things knows that this is accusation of me
is not true. And if you are afraid, by my confession
to God, I will protect you.'
'God knows,' they replied
'we won't take harm on ourselves for anyone in the
'Oh wretched creatures,'
said Rhiannon 'you'll come to no harm if you [just]
tell the truth.' But despite all she said - fair or
wretched - there was but one answer she would get from
At that Pwyll Pen Annwfn
woke up, with the household and the hostings: and it
was not possible to conceal that event. The news spread
out round the country, and every one of the noblemen
of the land heard [all about] it. The noblemen of the
land then converged - petitioning him to cast aside
his wife for such a terrible atrocity as the one which
she had committed.
Pwyll gave the following
'There was never any justification
for those who asked me to put aside my wife - other
than the fact that she was without a child. I know
her to have been with child, and I will not cast her
aside. If she has committed a crime, let her take
penance in return.'
For her part, Rhiannon
summoned her sages and wise men and, once she had
decided that it was fairer to take penance than embroil
herself in a quarrel with the women, she [went
about] taking her penance.
The penance that was put
on her was as follows: she was to stay at the court
of Arbeth for the duration of seven years. There was
a mounting-block by the gate. She had to sit beside
it every day telling anyone coming by the whole story
(of those she supposed did not know it) and offering
whichever guest and stranger would allow themselves
to carried, to be carried on her back to the court.
But only rarely did anyone allow the carrying. In this
way she passed the next part of the year.
At that time there was
a lord, Teyrnon Twryf Liant, ruling over Gwent-Ys-Coed,
and the best man in the world was he. At his house
[he had] a mare: and throughout his realm there was
neither horse nor mare in his realm as beautiful as
she. And she would give birth every night at the Calends
of May - yet no-one ever knew what became of her
One night Teyrnon was
talking with his wife:
'Wife,' he said 'it is
careless of us, letting our mare foal every year without
our [ever] getting a single one of them.'
'What can we do about
that?' she asked.
'Tonight is the Calends
of May,' said he 'The vengeance of God be upon me if
I do not find out what misfortune is taking these colts!'
He had the mare brought
into the house, and he equipped himself with weapons
and began his watch for the night.
As night was falling,
the mare gave birth to a large, perfectly-formed foal:
standing up on the spot. Teyrnon got up to admire the
sturdiness of the foal. As he was doing this, he could
hear a mighty commotion - and, following this commotion
there was an enormous claw [reaching] through the window,
seizing the colt by its mane. Teyrnon drew a sword
and severed the arm from the elbow down - so that the
bulk of the arm, together with the colt, [fell off]
inside next to him.
At that he heard a commotion
and a scream (at the same time). He went out of the
door in the direction of the commotion. He could not
identify [the source of] the commotion as the night
was so dark. But he kept up its trail and its pursuit.
He remembered that he
had left the door open, [so] he returned. And by the
door - lo and behold! - a small child in swaddling
clothes, wrapped in a sheet of brocaded silk. He picked
up the boy, and [noticed] he was strong for his age.
He fastened the door,
and made for the chamber where his wife was [sleeping].
'Lady,' he said 'are you
'No I'm not, my Lord,'
she said 'I was sleeping, and when you came in I woke
'Here is a child for you,'
he said 'if you want him. That which you have never
'Lord,' she exclaimed
'what is the story behind this?'
'Well,' said Teyrnon 'it
was like this...' And he related the entire account.
'Aye,' said she 'what
kind of clothing is the child wearing?'
'Brocaded silk,' he replied.
'He is the son of gentle-folk...'
'Lord,' she continued
'it would be a pleasure and a comfort to me: if it
is what you want. I could get the other women on my
side, and say that I had been pregnant.'
'I'll go along with you
on that, gladly' he replied.
And so it was done. They
had the boy baptized, with the baptism that they used
to practice in those days. The name he was given
was Gwri Golden-Hair - for the hair that was on
his head was as yellow as gold.
The child was brought
up in the court until he was one year old. And before
[the end of] his [first] year he was walking steadily,
and was stronger than a three-year old boy of the greatest
growth and size. And [after] he had been raised for
another year, he was as sturdy as a six-year old boy.
Before the end of the fourth year, he was striking
deals with the stable lads to be allowed to lead [the
horses] down to water.
'Lord,' said Teyrnon's
wife to him [one day] 'where is that foal which you
saved on the night we got the boy?'
'I put it in the care
of the stable boys,' he replied 'and asked them to
look after it.'
'Would it not be good,
my Lord,' said she 'for you to have it broken in, and
given to the boy? For the night we got the boy, the
foal was born and saved.'
'I will not go against
that,' replied Teyrnon 'and I will let you do the giving
of it to him.'
'Lord,' said she 'God
re-pay you. I will give it to him.'
The horse was given to
the boy, and she came to the grooms and the stable
boys and commanded them to be careful of the horse,
and [to be kept informed of] the news about it:
for it was to be broken in preparation for the time
when the boy would go out on horseback.
Meanwhile, they heard
stories about Rhiannon and her penance. Now Teyrnon
Twryf Lliant, because of what he had found out, [began]
to listen out for news and continually make inquiries
about it - so that he heard more and more complaints
from the numerous multitude who had been to the court
about how wretched was the fate of Rhiannon and her
This made Teyrnon think
and he looked closely at the boy, realising that he
had never seen a father and son who had looked more
similar in appearance as the boy did to Pwyll Penn
Annwfn. He was familiar with Pwyll's appearance as
he had been a vassal of his before. After that,
anxieties entered into [his mind]: [because] of how
wrong it was for him to keep the boy when he knew him
to be another man's son. When he got the first chance
to talk privately with his wife he asked her if it
was right that they should keep the boy - that being
the cause of such punishment on a noble woman as fine
as Rhiannon, as well as the boy being the son of Pwyll
For her part, Teyrnon's
wife agreed about sending the boy [back] to Pwyll:
'And three things, lord,'
she said 'we will get in return for doing that: thanks
and gratitude for freeing Rhiannon from the penance
which she endures, thanks from Pwyll for raising the
boy, and the third thing is that if the boy becomes
a noble man, he will be our foster-son, and will always
do the best he can for us.'
And that was the course
of action they followed.
They left it no later
than the following day [before] Teyrnon equipped himself
as one of three riders - and the boy as the fourth
on the horse Teyrnon had given him. And they set out
to Arbeth, and it wasn't long until they had arrived
there (they came to Arbeth).
As they came towards the
court, they could see Rhiannon sitting beside the mounting
block. When they came up to her she said:
'O Chieftain, go no further
than that! I will carry every one of you to the court.
And that is my penance for killing him who was my own
son, and for his destruction.'
'Good woman,' replied
Teyrnon 'I don't believe a single one of these will
be going on your back.'
'Let him go who wants
to,' said the boy 'but I myself will not go'.
'God knows, friend,' said
Teyrnon 'we will not go either.'
They made for the court,
and there was very great joy at their arrival. [Then]
they started on the feast that was in the court. Pwyll
himself came [back] from his circuit of Dyfed. They
went into the hall and washed. Pwyll welcomed Teyrnon
and they went to sit down. This is how they sat: Teyrnon
between Pwyll and Rhiannon; the boy between the two
companions of Teyrnon above Pwyll.
After the end of the meal,
as the drinking began they made conversation. In his
conversation, Teyrnon related the whole story about
the mare and the boy, and how the boy had been in the
charge of himself and his wife, and how they had raised
'Behold your son there,
lady!' exclaimed Teyrnon 'whoever put [this] falsehood
upon you has done you wrong. When I heard of the misery
you were in, I thought it wretched and it saddened
me. But I believe,' continued Teyrnon 'that there is
no-one in the whole of this hosting that would not
believe that the boy is [indeed] the son of Pwyll.'
'There is no-one,' said
everyone 'who is not sure of that fact.'
'Between myself and God,'
said Rhiannon 'if that were true I would be delivered
of my care.'
'Lady,' said Pendaran
Dyfed 'well did you name that boy "Pryderi" - it suits him best: Pryderi son of Pwyll Pen Annwfyn."
'Let us check,' said Rhiannon
'that his own name doesn't best become him.'
'What is his name?' asked
Hair" was what we called him.'
be his name' said Pendaran Dyfed.
'That is most fitting'
said Pwyll 'the boy taking his name from the first
word uttered by his mother on hearing the good news
And so it was decided.
'Teyrnon, God repay you
for raising the boy up until this time. It would be
right for him, if he grows up a noble man, that he
should repay you.'
'Lord,' Teyrnon replied
'[don't forget] the woman who reared him: there is
no one in the world that will miss him more than she.
It would be right for him to remember me and that woman
for what we did for him.'
'Between myself and God,'
said Pwyll 'as long as I am alive I will maintain you
and your people as well as I would my own. If he lives
[to adulthood], it is even more appropriate that he
should continue maintaining you than I. And if it is
your counsel, and that of these nobles, seeing as you
have raised him up until now, we will give the boy
to Pendaran Dyfed to foster from now on. And [both
of] you be as friends and foster-fathers to him.'
'That is good counsel,'
[So] the boy was then
given to Pendaran Dyfed, and the noblemen of the country
allied themselves with him. Teyrnon Twryf Lliant and
his companions set off back to his country with friendship
and contentment. [Moreover] he did not leave without
being offered the most beautiful treasures, the best
horses and the most highly-prized dogs. But he did
not want anything.
After that they remained
in their own lands, and Pryderi son of Pwyll Pen Annwfn
was brought up with care, in the right way: so that
he became the most faultless, the most handsome and
the most accomplished in all noble sports of any in
In that way, they passed
one year after the next until the life of Pwyll
Penn Annwfn came to an end and he was dead. And Pryderi
ruled the seven cantrefs of Dyfed with prosperity,
and in friendship with his countrymen and those around
After that, he conquered
the three cantrefs of Ystrad Twyi and the four cantrefs
of Ceredigion and those seven cantrefs are called Seisyllwch.
Pryderi son of Pwyll Penn Annwfn was on that conquest,
it came into his mind to take himself a wife. The woman
he desired was Cigfa, daughter of Gwynn Gohoyw, son
of Gloyw Wallt, son of Casnar Wledic: of the noble
ones of this Island.
And thus ends here this
Branch of the Mabinogion.
This translation is Copyright © Will Parker | www.mabinogi.net