Lordship of Glamorgan

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Lordship of Glamorgan
Arglwyddiaeth Morgannwg
Client State of the Kingdom of England
Flag Coat of Arms of Glamorgan
Wales (1267–1277)
  Lordships of the Marcher barons
Capital Cardiff Castle
Government Marcher Lordship
Lord of Glamorgan
 •  1093–1107 Robert Fitzhamon
 •  1217–1230 Gilbert de Clare, 5th Earl of Gloucester
 •  1509–1536 Henry VII of England
Historical era Middle Ages
 •  Conquered by
Robert FitzHamon, 1st Baron Gloucester
 •  Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542, Annexation by Henry VIII 1536
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kingdom of Glywysing
Kingdom of England

The Lordship of Glamorgan was one of the most powerful and wealthy of the Welsh Marcher Lordships. It was conquered by the Anglo-Norman Robert FitzHamon, 1st Baron Gloucester and his Twelve Knights of Glamorgan. The Lord of Glamorgan, like all Marcher Lords, ruled his lands directly by his own law: thus he could, amongst other things, declare war, raise taxes, establish courts and markets and build castles as he wished, largely without interference to the English Crown. These privileges were only lost under the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542. Though possessing many castles, the main seat of the Lordship was Cardiff Castle.


Coat of Arms of House FitzHaman.
Coat of Arms of House FitzRoy
Coat of Arms of House Monthermer
Coat of Arms of House de Clare
Coat of Arms of House Despencer
Coat of Arms of House Plantagenet

Glamorgan, Welsh Morgannwg, historic county, southern Wales, extending inland from the Bristol Channel coast between the Rivers Loughor and Rhymney. In the north it comprises a barren upland moor dissected by narrow river valleys. Glamorgan’s southern coastal section centres on an undulating plain known as the Vale of Glamorgan and extends into the Gower Peninsula. The historic county comprises the following administrative units: Swansea city and county, Vale of Glamorgan county, the county boroughs of Bridgend and Neath Port Talbot, most of the county of Cardiff and the county boroughs of Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Tydfil, and part of the county borough of Caerphilly.

Founding of Glamorgan

The lordship of Glamorgan, thus established by House FitzHamon, was a lordship marcher, or royal lordship, the possessors of which owed obedience only to the king of England, and exercised within its limits jura regalia, that is, the trial of all actions, both real and personal, with pleas of the crown, and authority to pardon for all.[1] The Norman Lord of Gloucester Robert Fitzhamon, drawn into the quarrels of the Welsh princes, had defeated Rhys ap Tewdur in 1093, leaving him as Lord of Glamorgan. The Normans concentrated their defensive works into the western half of the site, which became the 'inner' ward. At the northern end of this part, Fitzhamon built a 'motte', or mound, 40 feet high. This Keep was probably surmounted by a timber stockade giving shelter and protection to the wooden buildings which housed the lord, his household and his garrison.[1]

Robert Fitzhamon died of wounds received in battle in 1107, and his daughter and heiress, Mabel, married Robert, the natural son of King Henry I of England.[2] King Henry raised Robert to the Earldom of Gloucester, and made him Lord of Glamorgan, in 1122. The Earl of Gloucester was lauded on all sides as a brave soldier, wise statesman and patron of the arts, and is credited with having built the first stone keep of Cardiff Castle. At King Henry's request, he imprisoned another Robert in this keep - the second Duke of Normandy and his father's older brother - from 1126 until Robert of Normandy's death in 1134. Robert, sometimes known as 'The Consul' died in 1147 and was succeeded by his son William. When William died without male heir in 1183, the lordship passed to Prince (later King) John through his betrothal to William’s daughter, Isabel. John divorced Isabel but retained the lordship until her second marriage to the Earl of Essex. In 1217 the lordship passed to Gilbert de Clare, son of Isabel's sister, Amicia, and the descendant of a noble family which claimed kinship with William the Conqueror.[3]

Attacks from Welsh nationalists, with local or even wider support, characterized the turbulent history of medieval Glamorgan. The Normans built a castle at Loughor, which the Welsh prince Gruffudd ap Rhys destroyed in 1115 and which the Normans rebuilt in 1215. Caerphilly Castle, another of the county’s many castles, was built in 1271 to counter a threat to English rule in Glamorgan by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the only Welsh ruler that the English officially recognized as prince of Wales; its importance declined a few years later, however, with the loss of Welsh independence in 1283. The Normans built substantial fortifications at Cardiff and Cowbridge, and in the Vale of Glamorgan they practiced the manorial system. In the early 15th century Welsh forces led by Owain Glyn Dŵr ravaged the region. The Act of Union created the county of Glamorgan in 1536.[4]

First Creation

Medieval Wales.JPG
  • Robert FitzHamon, 1st Baron Gloucester, the conqueror and 1st Lord of Glamorgan (1093–1107)
  • Robert FitzRoy, 2nd Lord of Glamorgan, 1st Earl of Gloucester (1118–1147)
  • William FitzRobert, 3rd Lord of Glamorgan, 2nd Earl of Gloucester (1147–1183)
  • Isabel FitzRobert, 4th Lady of Glamorgan, 3rd Countess of Gloucester (d. 1217) Married With:
    • John Lackland, King of England (1189–1214), however marriage annulled
    • Geoffrey de Mandeville, 6th Lord of Glamorgan, 2nd Earl of Essex, 4th Earl of Gloucester (after 1214–1217)

Second Creation

Third Creation

  • Sir Hugh le Despencer, 2nd Baron le Despencer (1338–1349)
  • Edward le Despencer, 1st Baron le Despencer (1349–1375)
  • Thomas le Despencer, 1st Earl of Gloucester (1375–1400)
  • Richard le Despenser, 4th Baron Burghersh (c. 1400–1411)
  • Isabel le Despenser, Countess of Worcester (1422–1423)
    • Richard Beauchamp, 1st Earl of Worcester (1411–1422) and Isabel le Despenser, Countess of Worcester
    • Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick (1423–1439) and Isabel le Despenser, Countess of Worcester

Fourth Creation

  • Henry de Beauchamp, 1st Duke of Warwick (1439–1445)

Fifth Creation

  • Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (1449–1471) and Anne Beauchamp, 16th Countess of Warwick
  • Isabella Neville and George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence (1471–1478)
  • Richard III of England (1478–1485) and Anne Neville

Sixth Creation

  • Jasper Tudor Duke of Bedford, (1485–1495)

Merged with English Crown

  • Henry VII of England (1495–1509)
  • Henry VIII of England (1509–1547)


  • R. R. Davies, The Age of Conquest: Wales 1063–1415 (Oxford History of Wales, 2)
  • T. B. Pugh, Glamorgan County History:The Middle Ages: The Marcher Lordships of Glamorgan and Morgannwg and Gower and Kilvey from the Norman Conquest to the Act of Union of England and Wales


  1. 1.0 1.1 Storer, J. S. (1814). History and Antiquities of the Cathedral Churches of Great Britain: In Four Volumes (Vol. 1). Rivingtons.
  2. Nicholl, L. D. (1936). The Normans in Glamorgan, Gower and Kidweli. William Lewis (printers).
  3. Corbett, J. S. (1925). Glamorgan: Papers & Notes on the Lordship and Its Members (Vol. 56). Lewis.
  4. Pugh, T. B. (Ed.). (1971). Glamorgan County History. University of Wales Press for the Glamorgan County History Committee.