Brecon Castle, Powys
~ History ~
1093 ~ The motte and bailey castle is built by the Norman Lord Bernard de Neufmarché, brother of William the Conqueror. His invading army sent to subdue the Welsh and are successfull in conquering the Welsh kingdom of Brycheiniog after killing Rhys ap Tewdwr at the battle of Brecon. This opens up South Wales for a much wider invasion, resulting in defeats for the local rulers. Bernard receives the title of Lord of Brecon. He commences the construction of the motte-and-bailey castle at Brecon, thereby creating the first stone castle in Wales. The stones are taken from the Roman town of Caer Badden.
1207 ~ King John captures the castle from the rebellious over powerful de Braoses family.
1215 ~ During the first Baron's war the de Braose family recapture their castle, only to lose it after the fortress is attacked and taken by Welsh rebels. The Anglo-Normans eventually take back their castle after bitter fighting.
1233 ~ A bailey wall is added to the castle.
1241 ~ The Bohun family receive the castle.
1264 ~ Following further attacks on the castle the Welsh are again successfull and regain control over this key strategic fortress. Once more the English are forced to regroup and eventually retake their castle.
1265 ~ Less than a year later the Welsh return and are again successfull in capturing the castle, only to lose it again shortly after.
1273 ~ The Welsh again return in even greater number and this time in retaking the castle cause serious damage.
1403 ~ Forces loyal to Owain Glyndwr, prince of Wales lay siege and take the castle from the English.
1483 ~ Henry Stafford, Lord of Brecon & Duke of Buckingham, loyal supporter to King Richard III, rebels against his King. He retires to his remote fortress at Brecon to plot his rebellion. His accomplice is a prisoner at the castle, John Morton, Bishop of Ely. The Duke raises an army to oppose the King but his rebellion fails and he is executed. The bishop flees abroad and joins the Earl of Richmond.
1485 ~ The Earl of Richmond defeats King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth to become the first Tudor monarch as King Henry VII. The King employs the bishop as one of his tax collector. The King also rewards the Stafford family for their loyalty. Edward, born in Brecon castle, at the age of seven is granted all the honours, titles and lands which belonged to his executed father
1521 ~ The Lord of Brecon is executed for treason by King Henry VIII.
1543 ~ A second act of Parliament finally brings the semi-independent Welsh Marches under royal control.The Lordship of Brecon is removed as a direct result.
1645 ~ The castle is besieged by Rowland Laugharne, a military commander for the Parliamentarian cause.
1690 ~ The castle chapel ceases to be used as a goal and is later demolished.
The Brecon Beacons are full of ancient history covered with forts and settlements going back some 5,000 years. North West of the castle is the remains of Pen-y-crug, an Iron Age hill fort. Two miles to the west of Brecon lies Y-Gaer. A Roman fort built around 5O AD and may have been occupied as late as 300 AD.
In the 5th century the local ruler is said to have sent his daughter to Ireland in search of a husband. She found her Irish Prince and their son, Brychan, was sent to Wales to grow up at the Court of his grandfather. It is from the name 'Brychan' that the old country name of Brysheiniog and later 'Brecon' was derived. One of his daughters, called Tudful was killed by Barbarians. The welsh for martyr is merthyr, hence the settlement of Merthyr Tydfil 20 miles to the south got its name.
Today the Norman castle is part of a hotel in the centre of a busy town.