After Llewellyn ap Gruffud (‘the Last’), prince of Wales, was killed near Builth (1282), Edward I had his head crowned with ivy and hung from the Tower of London, in mocking fulfilment of a Druidic prophecy that a Welshman would be crowned in London as king of Britain. Forty years earlier, Llewellyn’s father had died at the Tower, falling from the window of his dungeon while trying to escape. Llewellyn would then exploit the upheaval of the Barons’ War (1264–67), first to consolidate his power in Wales then intervene on the rebel Simon De Montfort’s side in England, routing successive royal armies sent against him. By the Treaty of Montgomery (1267) Henry III recognized Llewellyn’s rule over most of Wales in return for an annual tribute payment. The March, or border regions, overseen by Norman Marcher Lords, was a region that was to some extent independent of the English Crown and the principality of Wales. Llewellyn proved an unpopular overlord to his Welsh nobles, and their intrigues and Llewellyn’s insubordination provoked Edward I to invade twice (1277, 1282) earning Llewellyn his crown of ivy and resulting in the annexation of the principality.
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