Son of Llŷr
After the seven men we spoke of above had finished burying the head of Bendigeidfran
in the White Hill in London, facing France, Manawydan
gazed at the township of London, and at his companions,
and gave a heavy sigh, and felt great grief and longing
in [his heart].
'Alas God almighty, woe is
me' said he 'there is no-one without a place of their
own tonight except me.'
'Lord,' said Pryderi 'don't
be so unhappy about that. Your cousin is king of Island
of the Mighty and although he may do you wrong' he continued
'you have never been a claimant for land or territory.
You are the third Humbled Chieftain.'
'Aye,' said he 'though that
man is my cousin, I find it somewhat sad to see anyone
in the place of Bendigeidfran my brother, and I cannot
be happy in the same house as him.'
'[Then] will you pursue another
counsel?' asked Pryderi.
'I have been needing counsel,'
said he ' what counsel is that?'
'The Seven Cantrefs of Dyfed
have been left to me,' said Pryderi 'And Rhiannon my
mother is there. I will give her to you, and the sovereignty
of the Seven Cantrefs with her. And though you might
have no more domains than those seven cantrefs, there
are no cantrefs better than they. Cigfa, daughter of
Gwyn Gloyw is my wife,' he continued 'and though it may
be my territory in name, let the enjoyment of it be yours
and Rhiannon's. And had you ever desired territory, it
would have [probably] been [those] that you would have
'I do not desire [any], chieftain,'
replied Manawydan '[but] God repay your kindness.'
'The best friendship I can
offer will be yours, if you wish it.'
'I wish it, friend,' he replied.
'God repay you. I will come with you to see Rhiannon
and to see your territory.'
'You are right to do so,'
he replied. 'I believe you will not ever have listened
a woman more companionable than her. When she was in
her prime, no woman was as beautiful as her; and even
now you will not be disappointed with her looks.'
[So] they went on their way,
and however long [it was that] they were on the road,
they [eventually] came to Dyfed. There was a feast ready
for them in Arberth (after its preparation by Rhiannon
Then Manawydan and Rhiannon
sat down together and began to talk; and from that
conversation his heart and mind warmed to her, and he
felt that he had never seen a woman before better
endowed with beauty and attractiveness than she.
'Pryderi,' he said ' I will
abide by what you said.'
'And what was it that you
did say?' asked Rhiannon.
'Lady,' said Pryderi 'I have
given you as a wife to Manawydan son of Llŷr.'
'I will abide with that, gladly'
'I too am glad,' said Manawydan
'God repay the man who gives me friendship as unwavering
Before the end of that feast,
he had slept with her.
'What is left of the feast,'
said Pryderi 'you finish it; I for my part will go and
pledge my allegiance to Casswallon son of Beli [over]
'Lord,' said Rhiannon 'Casswallon
is in Kent, and [so] you can finish this feast, and wait
until he is nearer.'
'We will wait for him [then],'
They finished that feast,
and began to progress through Dyfed, hunting and
taking their pleasure.
And as they wandered throughout
the land, they [realised that] they had never seen
a country so hospitable, nor a better hunting ground,
nor more bountiful with honey and fishes than that. With
that, a friendship grew up between the four of them,
so that neither of them would wish to be without the
other day or night.
Around that time, [Pryderi]
went to Caswallawn in Oxford and pledged his allegiance.
And there was very great joy at his arrival, and thanks
were given for his pledge of allegiance. After [his]
return, Pryderi and Manawydan feasted and took their
They began their feasting
in Arberth, as it was [the] chief court, and from here
every celebration was begun. After the first course of
that evening, while the serving men were eating, the
four got up and made for the Gorsedd Arberth, and
a host with them.
As they were seated thus,
suddenly there was a clap of thunder and, with such a
great clap of thunder, a fall of mist so that no-one
could see anyone else. After the mist, everywhere [was
filled] with bright light. And when they looked where
before they would have once seen flocks and herds and
dwellings, they could see nothing at all: neither house,
nor animal, nor smoke, nor fire, nor man, nor dwellings;
[nothing] except the empty buildings of the court, deserted,
uninhabited, without man or beast within them, their
own companions lost, without them knowing anything about
them; [no-one left] except the four of them.
'Alas, Lord God,' said Manawydan
'is the host of the court and our host nothing but this?
Let us go and look.'
They came to the hall - there
was nobody. They made for the chamber and the sleeping
house - none did they see. Neither in the mead cellar
nor the kitchen was there anything except desolation.
[Then] those four began wandering
the land, they hunted and took their pleasure; each one
of them began to roam the land and the country, searching
for a house or a settlement: but there was nothing of
any kind to be seen, except wild beasts.
And when they had finished
their feast and their supplies, they began to live off
hunted meat, fish and wild swarms. And thus one year
and the next they passed in contentment. But in the end,
they found it intolerable.
'God knows,' said Manawydan
'we can't go on like this. Let us make for England where
we can find a trade and make a living.'
They made for England, until
they came to Henford; and took up saddle-making.
Manawydan began to fashion pommels, and they were coloured
in the way he had seen Llassar Llaes Gyfnewid do with
blue azure; and they [even] made their own blue azure,
just as the other man had done. And for that reason,
it is still called "calch llasar", after Llassar Llaes Gyfnewit.
And as a result of that work,
not a saddle nor a pommel could be sold by a saddler
anywhere in Henford, as long as it could be got from
Manawydan - until each of the saddlers realised they
were loosing profit, and nothing was being bought from
them, unless it could not be got from Manawydan.
Thereupon, they banded together
and agreed to kill him and his companion. Thereupon [the
four] got a warning, and they took counsel about leaving
'Between myself and God,'
said Pryderi 'I will not counsel leaving the township,
rather than killing those peasants.'
'No,' said Manawydan 'if we
fight with them, we will get a bad name, and be thrown
in prison. It is better for us,' he continued 'to make
for another township and earn a living there.'
And [so] the four went to
'What craft shall we take
up?' asked Pryderi.
'We will make shields,' said
'Do we know anything about
that?' asked Pryderi.
'We will try it,' he replied.
They started the work of making
shields - fashioning them in the style of good shields
they had seen, and decorating them with the same colour
they had put upon the saddles.
And that work was successful
for them, and no shield was sold in the whole of that
town unless it came from them. Swift was their work,
and innumerable [shields] did they make; and so they
went on until their neighbours were irked by them,
until they decided to seek their death. But warning came
to them, and they heard about men who intended to kill
'Pryderi,' said Manawydan
'these men wish to destroy us.'
'We should not take [that]
from these peasants. Let us descend on them and kill.'
'No!' he replied 'Casswallon
and his men will hear of it, and we would be ruined.
Let us make for another township.'
To another township they came.
'What craft shall we follow?'
'Whichever one you like, from
those we know,' said Pryderi.
'No,' said Manawydan 'we will
make shoes. The shoemakers won't have the heart to either
fight or forbid us.'
'I know nothing about that
[trade]' protested Pryderi.
'[But] I do know [something
of] it,' replied Manawydan 'and I will teach you to stitch.
We will not get involved with dressing the leather, but
buy it ready-made, and make our work from that.'
Then he started buying the
finest dovan leather which he got in the town, and
he bought no other leather than that, except for the
soles. He began to associate with the best goldsmith
in the township, and had buckles made for the shoes and
the buckles gilded - and he practiced that until he had
mastered it. And for that reason, he became known as
one of the Three Golden Shoemakers.
As long as it could be obtained
from him, no shoe nor boot nor anything could be sold
by a shoemaker in the whole of the township. As for the
shoemakers, they realised their profits were failing:
for just as Manawydan crafted his work, so Pryderi stitched.
The shoemakers came and took counsel, and what came out
of that counsel was an agreement to kill them.
'Pryderi,' said Manawydan
'these men wish to kill us.'
'Why are we taking that from
the thieving peasants?' demanded Pryderi 'rather than
killing them all.'
'No,' said Manawydan 'we will
not fight with them, and we will not remain in England
any longer. Let us make for Dyfed, and go and look round
However long they were on
the road, they [eventually] came to Dyfed, and made for
Arberth. They lit a fire, and began foraging and
hunting, and they spent a month in this way. They gathered
their dogs about them and hunted and remained there for
a year like that.
One morning, Pryderi and Manawydan
got up to hunt, prepared their dogs and went outside
the court. Some of the dogs then ran ahead, going to
a small copse that was nearby. As soon as they went
[up] to the copse, they withdrew again swiftly, all bristling
and fearful, and came back towards the men.
'Let's approach that copse,'
said Pryderi ' and see what is within it.'
They drew towards the copse.
When they had come near to it, suddenly there was a shining
white boar, arising out of the copse. The dogs - with
encouragement from the men - rushed towards it. [The
boar], for its part, left the copse, and withdrew a short
distance away from the men, then it would stand ground
against the dogs without retreating until the men came
near. When the men closed in, it withdrew once again,
and broke away.
After the boar they went,
until they could see a great, towering caer, [all]
newly-made, in a place they had never seen either stone
or building before. The boar was making for it swiftly
with the dogs [running] after it.
Once the boar and the dogs
had gone into the caer, they wondered at the sight of
a caer where they had never seen a building before (that).
And from the top of the mound they watched, and listened
out for their dogs. However long they were there, they
neither heard any of their dogs nor saw any sign of them.
'Lord,' said Pryderi 'I am
going into that caer, to find out about those dogs.'
'God knows,' said the other
'your counsel to go into the caer is not good. [We did
not see] this [caer] here ever before. If you would
follow my counsel, you would not go in. Whoever put enchantment
on this land, has [also] made the caer [appear] here.'
'God knows,' said Pryderi
'I will not give up my dogs.'
Whatever else Manawydan would
say, he [nonetheless] made for the caer. When he
got to the caer, he could not see man, nor beast, nor
the boar, nor the dogs, nor house, nor dwelling inside
the caer. [All] he could see, approximately in the middle
of the courtyard, [was] a fountain with marble stonework
around it. Beside the fountain [was] a golden bowl, attached
by four chains, which was above [the] marble slab - with
the chains reaching up into the air, and he could not
see the end of them.
He was inspired at the
beauty of the gold, and [at] how good the workmanship
of the bowl [was]. He came up to where the bowl was,
and laid hold of it. As soon as he had laid hold of the
bowl, his hands stuck to the bowl, and his two feet to
the slab on which he was standing. The power of speech
was taken from him so he could not utter a single word.
And thus he stood [unable to move].
Manawydan waited for him until
it was nearly the end of the day. Late in the afternoon,
after he was certain he would get no tidings of Pryderi
or his dogs, he came back to the court. When he came
in, Rhiannon stared at him.
'Where is your companion?'
she asked ' and your dogs?'
'Look,' he said 'here's my
story.' and he recounted it all.
'God knows,' said Rhiannon
'bad is the companion you have been, and good is the
companion you have lost.'
With that word she went out,
and over to where he had said the man and the caer were,
and made towards it.
She saw the gate of the caer
was open and unprotected. Inside she went, and as
soon as she had gone inside, she caught sight of Pryderi
grasping the bowl, and she came over to him.
'Och, Lord, what are you doing
here?' she exclaimed, grasping the bowl along with him.
And as soon as she grasps
it, her two hands stick to the bowl, and her two feet
to the slab, so that she too could not utter a single
word. And thereupon, as soon as it was night, lo! there
was a peal of thunder, and a fall of mist and with that
the caer disappeared, leaving along with [Pryderi and
When Cigfa, daughter of Gwyn
Gloyw and wife of Pryderi, saw that there was no-one
in the court except her and Manawydan - she lamented
that her life to her was no no better than her death..
Manawydan stared at her.
'God knows,' he said 'you
are wrong to worry about demands from me. God as
my witness, you have never seen a truer companion
than you will find [in] me, as long as God wishes it
thus. Between me and God, if I was in the first flush
of my youth, I would keep faith with Pryderi, and for
your sake I would keep it as well. Don't be afraid'
he continued 'between me and God, you will get the companionship
you wish from me, as much as I am able, as long as God
would wish us to be in this wretchedness and misery.'
'God repay you, that is what
And the young woman was cheered
and reassured by that.
'Aye, friend,' said Manawydan
'it is not a suitable place here for us to stay. We have
lost our dogs and it is not possible for us to support
ourselves. Let us go to England. It will be easiest for
us to support ourselves there.'
'Gladly, Lord,' she replied
'we will do that.'
Together they went to England.
'Lord,' said she 'what trade
are you going to take? Take a proper one.'
'I will not take anything
except shoe-making,' he replied 'like I did before.'
'Lord,' she protested ' that
is not flattering to the honour of a man as skilled
and as high-ranking as you.'
'That is what I am going to
do [nonetheless],' he replied.
He began his craft, and fashioned
his work from the finest dovan leather he could find
in the township. And just as they had begun in the other
place, he started to buckle the shoes with golden buckles,
until the work of all the shoe-makers in the town-ship
was tawdry and meagre compared to his own. And as long
as [there were] either a shoe or boot [that] could be
got from him, none would be brought from anybody else.
He spent a year like that
there, until the shoemakers grew resentful and envious
towards him, so that warnings came to him, saying the
shoemakers had agreed to kill him.
'Lord,' said Cigfa 'why is
this to be endured from peasants?'
'No,' he replied 'we are going
to Dyfed, however.'
They made for Dyfed. When
he set out for Dyfed, Manawydan took with him a bushel
of wheat. He made for Arberth and settled there. And
there was nothing more pleasant to him than seeing Arberth
and the territory where he used to hunt: him and Pryderi,
and Rhiannon with them.
He began to practice catching
fish, and wild deer in their lairs. After that he began
tilling, and after that he sewed one croft, and a second,
and a third. The wheat that grew up was the best in the
world, and the three crofts all grew just as well:
wheat more beautiful than anyone had ever seen.
He passed the seasons of the
year. Then it was harvest. He came to one of his
crofts and behold, that was fully grown.
'I would like to reap this
tomorrow,' said Manawydan.
He came back that night to
The following day, in the
green of dawn, he came, minded to harvest the croft.
When he came, there was nothing but bare stalks - each
one had been broken off where the ear comes out of the
stalk, and the ear had gone clean away, leaving just
the bare stalk.
He wondered greatly at that,
and went to examine a second croft; and behold, it was
'God knows,' said he 'I would
like to reap this tomorrow.'
The next day he came, minded
[to carry out] that harvest. And when he got there, there
was nothing except bare stalks.
'O Lord God,' he said 'who
is completing my ruin? I know it - whoever began my downfall,
is the one who is completing it - and he has ruined my
country with me!'
He came to examine the third
croft. When he got there, no-one had ever seen finer
wheat - and that was as fully grown.
'Shame on me,' he said 'if
I do not keep guard tonight. Whoever carried the other
corn off will come to carry this off [as well], and I'll
find out what it is.'
He took his weapons, and began
watching the croft.
He told Cigfa all about it.
'Aye,' said she 'what is it
that you have in mind?'
'I will guard the croft tonight,'
He went to guard the croft.
Around about midnight he was thus [occupied] when all
of a sudden there was the greatest commotion in the world.
He looked [out]. Lo! there was a horde of mice: and it
was not possible to count or reckon them.
Before he knew it, the mice
were falling upon the croft, and every one of them was
climbing to the tip of a stalk, bending it with them,
and breaking off the ear and making off with it, leaving
the stalks - and as far as he could tell, there was no
stalk on which there had not been a mouse. And they made
their exit, the ears with them.
Then, [his mind somewhere]
between anger and fury, he lunged out into the mice.
[But] he could no more keep sight of them than gnats
or birds in the air - except for one he saw that was
so bulky, so he guessed it was not capable of anything
[faster] than a walk. After it he went, and laid hold
of it, and put it inside his glove, and tied the end
of the glove with string. He kept it with him and made
for the court.
He came to the hall where
Cigfa was, stoked the fire, and hung the glove by
[its] string on a peg.
'What is in there, Lord?'
'A thief,' he replied 'that
I caught thieving from me.'
'Lord, what sort of thief
can you put in your glove?' she asked.
'Here is the whole story,'
he said. And he told her how his croft had been spoiled
and destroyed, and how the mice had come to the last
croft while he had been there.
'And one of them was very
bulky, which I caught, and which is in the glove, and
which I will hang tomorrow. And, by my confession to
God, if I had caught all of them, I would have hanged
them [as well].'
'No wonder, Lord,' said
she, 'however, its unsightly to see as high-ranking -
as noble - a man as yourself hanging vermin like that.
And if you did right, you would not trouble yourself
with such a creature, but [rather] let it go.'
'Shame on me if I caught all
of them' he replied 'because I would have hanged [them
all]. [But since] I [only] have this one, I will hang
'Aye, Lord,' she replied.
'I have no reason to defend this creature: except to
avoid humiliation for you. You do what you want, Lord.'
'If I knew of any reason in
the world to agree with you in defending this creature,
I would take your advice on this. But, seeing as I do
not, my lady, it is my intention to destroy it.'
'You do that then, gladly'
Then he made for Gorsedd Arberth,
and the mouse with him, and he planted two forks in the
highest place on the mound. As he was doing this, suddenly
he could see a scholar coming towards him, wearing an
old garment, threadbare and poor. It had been all
of seven years since he had seen man or beast - other
than the four people who had been together (until two
had been lost).
'Lord,' said the scholar 'good
day to you.'
'May God give well to you,
and welcome!' he said 'where have you come from, scholar?'
'Lord, I am coming from singing
in England. Why do you ask, Lord?'
'For seven years,' said he
'I haven't seen a single person here, except for four
[other] exiles - and now yourself.'
'Aye,' said the other 'myself,
I'm passing through this country this hour, on my way
to my own country. And what kind of work are you doing
'Hanging a thief I caught
thieving from me,' said he.
'What kind of thief, Lord?'
he asked. 'The creature I see in your hand looks like
a mouse. It poorly becomes a man of such [high] rank
as yourself to handle such a creature as that. Let it
'I will not let it go, between
myself and God,' he replied 'I caught it thieving, and
I will execute the punishment for a thief upon it - [which
'Lord,' replied the other
'rather than [have to] watch a man as high-ranking as
yourself [engaging] in such work, I will give you
a pound that I was given in alms to let that creature
'I will not let it go, between
myself and God, neither will I sell it.'
'You do that, Lord' said he
'if it was not wrong to see a man of your rank handling
such a creature as that, it would not trouble me.'
And away went the scholar.
As he was engaged with putting
the cross-beam on the gallows, suddenly there was a priest
coming towards him, on a well-kept horse.
'Lord,' he said 'good day
'May God give well to you,'
replied Manawydan ' and bless you.'
'The blessing of God to you.
And what kind of work, Lord, are you engaged in [there]?'
'I am hanging a thief whom
I caught thieving from me,' said he.
'What kind of thief, Lord?'
asked the other.
'A creature in the shape of
a mouse,' said he 'who was committing theft against me.
And the fitting end for a thief I am executing upon
'Lord, rather than watch you
handling that creature, I will redeem it. Let it go.'
'By my confession to God,
I will neither sell it nor let it go.'
'It is true, Lord, it is not
worth anything. [But] rather than see you defiling yourself
with that creature, I will give you three pounds to let
'Between me and God,' he replied
'I don't want any payment, except what this one is due
- its hanging.'
'Gladly, Lord, you do as you
Off went the priest.
What he did, for his part,
was to tie the noose around the neck of the mouse.
As he was busy raising it,
behold, he could see the retinue of a bishop, with his
sumpters and his host; and the bishop himself making
towards him. He stopped his work.
'Lord Bishop,' he said 'your
'[And] God give blessing to
you,' said [the bishop] 'what kind of work are you engaged
'Hanging a thief I caught
thieving from me,' he replied.
'Is it not a mouse I see in
your hand?' asked the other
'Aye,' he replied 'and a thief
it has been to me.'
'Aye,' said the bishop 'since
I have come upon the destruction of that creature, I
will redeem it from you. I will give you seven pounds
for it: rather than see as high-ranking man as yourself
destroying a creature as wretched as that. Release it
and you will be rewarded.'
'I will not let it go, between
me and God,' he replied.
'Since you will not let it
go for that, I will give you twenty-four pounds of mint
silver - so let it go.'
'I will not let it go, by
my confession to God, for the same amount again.'
'If you let it go,' said [the
bishop] 'I will give you all the horses on the plain,
and the seven sumpters that are here, and the seven horses
that carry them.'
'I do not want [them], between
me and God,' he replied'
'Since you do not want that,
name your price.'
'I will name it,' he replied
'the freeing Rhiannon and Pryderi.'
'You will get that.'
'I don't want [it], between
me and God.'
'What do you want?'
'Deliverance from the magic
and enchantment upon the seven cantrefs of Dyfed.'
'That you will have also,
if you release the mouse.'
'I will not free it, between
me and God,' said [Manawydan] 'I want to know who the
'She is my wife, and were
that not so, we would not be freeing her'
'By what means did she come
'To plunder,' he replied 'I
am Llwyd Cil Coed, and it was me that put magic on
the seven cantrefs of Dyfed to avenge Gwawl son of Clud,
for [the sake of] his friendship I laid the enchantment;
and on Pryderi I avenged the playing of Badger in the
Bag, [from] when it was done by Pwyll Pen Annwfn at the
court of Hyfaidd Hen - the ill-advised deed.
'After hearing that you were
settled in the land' he continued 'my war-band came to
see me, and asked me to turn them into mice, so they
might destroy your corn. On the first night my war-band
came alone. On the second night they came too, and destroyed
the two crofts. On the third night my wife and the women
of the court came to me, and asked me to transform them
[as well], [so] I transformed them [too]. [But] she was
pregnant. Had she not been pregnant, you would not have
caught up with her.
'But since she was, and she
got caught, I will give you Pryderi and Rhiannon, and
remove the magic and enchantment from Dyfed. I have told
you who she is - now let her go.'
'I will not let her go, between
me and God.'
'What do want?' he asked.
'Behold,' he replied ' this
is what I want: that they may never be [any more] magic
or enchantment upon the seven cantrefs of Dyfed, and
[no more] be placed upon it.'
'You will have that,' he said
'[now] let her go.'
'I will not let her go, between
me and God.'
'What do you want?' he asked.
'This,' he said 'is what I
want: there must be no revenge against Pryderi, Rhiannon
or myself, ever from this.'
'All that you shall get. And,
God knows, that was a good move,' he said 'if you
had not moved thus, all of the grief would have come
upon your head.'
'Aye,' he replied 'against
that I have protected myself.'
'Now release my wife.'
'I will not release her until
I see Pryderi and Rhiannon in front of me.'
'See them coming here!' he
Thereupon, there was Pryderi
and Rhiannon. He arose to meet them, and welcomed them,
and they sat down together.
'Good man, now [please] free
my wife, for you have certainly obtained all of what
you were asking for.'
'I will free her gladly,'
And then he freed her. He
hit her with his magic wand, and she changed into
the most beautiful young woman anyone had ever seen.
'Look around you upon the
land,' said he 'and you will see all the homesteads and
the settlements - as they were at their best.'
And when he got up to look
he could see the whole of the country inhabited, in [full]
order in terms of its herds and habitations.
'What form of servitude were
Pryderi and Rhiannon under?' he asked.
'Pryderi would have the gate-hammers
of the court around his neck, and Rhiannon would have
the collars of asses, after they had been carrying hay.
Such was their imprisonment.'
And, on account of that imprisonment,
that tale was called 'The Mabinogi of Mynweir and Mynordd'.
Thus ends this branch of the
This translation is Copyright © Will Parker | www.mabinogi.net