The Middle Period

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mabinogiMiddle Welsh is the period between about 1000 and 1536.

The period includes the golden age of the Welsh princes where Welsh was a language of administration and everyday use and the period of the Gentry – the period after Llywelyn ap Gruffudd was killed by the English in 1282.

The laws of Wales are known as 'Cyfraith Hywel' - the Laws of Hywel Dda. Hywel ap Cadell – King of Wales (942-950) - was the man who gathered together the Welsh laws of the 10th century. The earliest copy we have is in a 13th century manuscript, called Peniarth MS 28.

This is also the time when manuscripts containing the White Book of Rhydderch, The Red Book of Hergest and The Black book of Carmarthen were written; it is in these books that we find recorded the work of earlier poets and the tales and legends collectively known as The Mabinogion.

In Welsh poetry, this was the time of the Poets of the Princes – poets such as Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr (fl. 1155 – 1195) and Gruffudd ab yr Ynad Coch (fl. 1277 – 1282) – and the Poets of the Gentry – people such as Dafydd ap Gwilym (c.1315 –1370) and Iolo Goch (c.1325 – 1398).

As in the earlier period, the language was influenced by the Christian Church and the religious orders of the time, especially the Sistercian abbeys, played an important part in recording and copying the poetry and prose of the period.

Vocabulary: The Middle Period

cynnwys – to include
cyfraith/cyfreithiau – law/-s
Lladin – Latin
oes aur – golden age
tywysogion – princes
uchelwyr – gentry
llawysgrif/-au – manuscript/-s
chwedlau – legends; tales
urdd/-au – order/-s
crefyddol – religious
abaty/abatai – abbey/-s

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