The Flemish Settlement in Wales

Since the accession of William I many Flemings had settled in England. They did not get on well with the English, and so Henry I moved them to South Pembroke, where they would be useful in helping to keep the Welsh in check. This is of course the beginning of 'Little England beyond Wales'. It is probable that the English speaking people on the south side of the Gower Peninsula were settled there about the same time and for the same reason.
(True also of Kidwelly as it's first Charter has been dated to be at the latest 1114.) W.J.M.


Brut y Tywysogion

A CERTAIN nation, not recognized in respect of origin and manners, and unknown as to where it had been concealed in the island for a number of years, was sent by King Henry into the country of Dyved. And that nation seized the whole cantred of Rhos, near the efflux of the river called Cleddyw, having driven off the people completely. That nation, as it is said, came from Flanders, the country which is situated nearest to the sea of the Britons, the whole region having been reduced to disorder, and bearing no produce, owing to the sand cast into the land by the sea. At last, when they could get no space to inhabit, as the sea had poured over the maritime land, and the mountains were full of people . . . so that nation craved of King Henry and besought him to assign a place where they might dwell. And then they were sent into Rhos, expelling from thence the proprietary inhabitants, who thus lost their own country and place from that time 'til the present day.

Giraldus Cambrensis, Itinerary, Book I, Chapter II

The inhabitants of this province who derived their origin from Flanders were sent to live in these parts by Henry I, King of the English; they are a people brave and robust, and ever most hostile to the Welsh with whom they wage war; a people, I say, most skilled in commerce and woollen manufactures; a people eager to seek gain by land or sea in spite of difficulty or danger; a hardy race equally ready for the plough or the sword; a people happy and brave if Wales, as it should be, had been dear to the heart of its kings, and not so often experienced the vindictive resentment and ill treatment of its rulers.

Extracted from “A Source-Book of Welsh History”, p.67-68 by Mary Salmon, M.A., Oxford Univ. Press 1927.

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