The homage which the first succeeded in extorting from the whole of the Welsh chieftains placed him openly at the head of his race, and gave a new character to his struggle with the English King. In consolidating his authority within his own domains, and in the assertion of his lordship over the princes of the south, Llewelyn ap Jorwerth aimed steadily at securing the means of striking off the yoke of the Saxon. It was in vain that John strove to buy his friendship by the hand of his daughter Johanna. Fresh raids on the Marches forced the King to enter Wales; but though his army reached Snowdon it fell back like its predecessors, starved and broken before an enemy it could never reach. A second attack had better success. The chieftains of South Wales were drawn from their new allegiance to join the English forces, and Llewelyn, prisoned in his fastnesses, was at last driven to submit. But the ink of the treaty was hardly dry before Wales was again on fire; the common fear of the English once more united its chieftains, and the war between John and his barons removed all dread of a new invasion.
Absolved from his allegiance to an excommunicated King, and allied with the barons under Fitz- Walter - too glad to enlist in their cause a prince who could hold in check the nobles of the border country, where the royalist cause was strongest - Llewelyn seized his opportunity to reduce Shrewsbury, to annex Powys, where the English influence had always been powerful, to clear the royal garrisons from Caermarthen and Cardigan, and to force even the Flemings of Pembroke to do him homage.
The hopes of Wales rose higher and higher with each triumph of the Lord of Snowdon. The court of Llewelyn was crowded with bardic singers. "He pours," sings one of them, " his gold into the lap of the bard as the ripe fruit falls from the trees." But gold was hardly needed to wake their enthusiasm. Poet after poet sang of "the Devastator of England," the "Eagle of men that loves not to lie nor sleep," "towering above the rest of men with his long red lance," his "red helmet of battle crested with a fierce wolf." "The sound of his coming is like the roar of the wave as it rushes to the shore, that can neither be stayed nor appeased." Lesser bards strung together his victories in rough jingle of rime and hounded him on to the slaughter. "Be of good courage in the slaughter," sings Elidir, "cling to thy work, destroy England, and plunder its multitudes." A fierce thirst for blood runs through the abrupt, passionate versea of the court singers. "Swansea, that tranquil town, was broken in heaps," bursts out a triumphant poet; "St. Clears, with its bright white lands, it is not Saxons who hold it now! " "In Swansea, the key of Lloegria, we made widows of all the wives." "The dread Eagle is wont to lay corpses in rows, and to feast with the leader of wolve? and with hovering ravens glutted with flesh, butchers with keen scent of carcases." "Better," closes the song, "is the grave than the life of man who sighs when the horns call him forth to the squares of battle." But even in bardic verse Llewelyn rises high out of the mere mob of chieftains who live by rapine, and boast as the Hirlas-horn passes from hand to hand through the hall that "they take and give no quarter." "Tender-hearted, wise, witty, ingenious," he was "the great Caesar" who was to gather beneath his sway the broken fragments of the Celtic race.
Mysterious prophecies, the prophecies of Merlin the Wise, floated from lip to lip, to nerve Wales to its last struggle with the invaders. Medrawd and Arthur would appear once more on earth to fight over again the fatal battle of Camlan. The last conqueror of the Celtic race, Cadwallon, still lived to combat for his people. The supposed verses of Taliesin expressed the undying hope of a restoration of the Cymry. " In their hands shall be all the land from Britannyto Man:... a rumour shall arise that the Germans are moving out of Britain back again to their fatherland " Gathered up in the strange work of Geoffry of Monmouth, these predictions made a deep impression, not on Wales only, but on its conquerors. It was to meet indeed the dreams of a yet living Arthur that the grave of the legendary hero-king at Glastonbury was found and visited by Henry the Second. But neither trick nor conquest could shake the firm faith of the Celt in the ultimate victory of his race. "Think you," said Henry to a Welsh chieftain who had joined his host, " that your people of rebels can withstand my army?" "My people," replied the chieftain, "may be weakened by your might, and even in great part destroyed, but unless the wrath of God be on the side of its foe it will not perish utterly.
Nor deem I that other race or other tongue will answer for this corner of the world before the Judge of all at the last day save this people and tongue of Wales." So ran the popular rime, " Their Lord they will praise, their speech they shall keep, their land they shall lose - except wild Wales." Faith and prophecy seemed justified by the growing strength of the British people. The weakness and dissensions which characterized the reign of Henry the Third enabled Llewelyn ap Jonverth to preserve a practical independence till the close of his life, when a fresh acknowledgement of the English supremacy was wrested from him by Archbishop Edmund. But the triumphs of his arms were renewed by Llewelyn the son of Gruffydd, whose ravages swept the border to the very gates of Chester, while his conquest of Glamorgan seemed to bind the whole people together in a power strong enough to meet any attack from the stranger. Throughout the Barons' war Llewelyn, remained master of Wales. Even at its close the threat of an attack from the now united kingdom only forced him to submission on a practical acknowledgement of his sovereignty.
The chieftain whom the English kings had till then scrupulously designated as " Prince of Aberffraw," was now allowed the title of" Prince of Wales," and his right to receive homage from the other nobles of his principality was allowed.