Within four years of the Battle of Hastings (1066), England had been completely subjugated by the Normans. William I of England established a series of lordships, allocated to his most powerful warriors, along the Welsh border, their boundaries fixed only to the east (where they met other feudal properties inside England). Starting in the 1070s, these lords began conquering land in southern and eastern Wales, west of the River Wye. The frontier region, and any English-held lordships in Wales, became known as Marchia Wallie, the Welsh Marches, in which the Marcher Lords were subject to neither English nor Welsh law. The extent of the March varied as the fortunes of the Marcher Lords and the Welsh princes ebbed and flowed.
Owain Gwynedd‘s grandson Llywelyn Fawr (the Great, 1173–1240), received the fealty of other Welsh lords in 1216 at the council at Aberdyfi, becoming in effect the first Prince of Wales. His grandson Llywelyn ap Gruffudd secured the recognition of the title Prince of Wales from Henry III with the Treaty of Montgomery in 1267. Subsequent disputes, including the imprisonment of Llywelyn‘s wife Eleanor, culminated in the first invasion by King Edward I of England. As a result of military defeat, the Treaty of Aberconwy exacted Llywelyn‘s fealty to England in 1277. Peace was short lived and, with the 1282 Edwardian conquest, the rule of the Welsh princes permanently ended. With Llywelyn‘s death and his brother prince Dafydd‘s execution, the few remaining Welsh lords did homage to Edward I.
Annexation to England
The Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284 provided the constitutional basis for a post-conquest government of the Principality of North Wales from 1284 until 1535/36. It defined Wales as “annexed and united” to the English Crown, separate from England but under the same monarch. The king ruled directly in two areas: the Statute divided the north and delegated administrative duties to the Justice of Chester and Justiciar of North Wales, and further south in western Wales the King’s authority was delegated to the Justiciar of South Wales. The existing royal lordships of Montgomery and Builth remained unchanged. To maintain his dominance, Edward constructed a series of castles: Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Harlech and Conwy. His son, the future Edward II, was born at Caernarfon in 1284. He became the first English Prince of Wales in 1301, which at the time provided an income from northwest Wales known as the Principality of Wales.
After the failed revolt in 1294–95 of Madog ap Llywelyn – who styled himself Prince of Wales in the Penmachno Document – and the rising of Llywelyn Bren (1316), the last uprising was led by Owain Glyndŵr, against Henry IV of England. In 1404, Owain was reputedly crowned Prince of Wales in the presence of emissaries from France, Spain and Scotland. Glyndŵr went on to hold parliamentary assemblies at several Welsh towns, including Machynlleth. The rebellion failed, Owain went into hiding, and nothing was known of him after 1413. Henry Tudor (born in Wales in 1457) seized the throne of England from Richard III in 1485, uniting England and Wales under one royal house. The last remnants of Celtic-tradition Welsh law were abolished and replaced by English law by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 during the reign of Henry VII’s son, Henry VIII. In the legal jurisdiction of England and Wales, Wales became unified with the kingdom of England; the “Principality of Wales” began to refer to the whole country, though it remained a “principality” only in a ceremonial sense. The Marcher Lordships were abolished, and Wales began electing members of the Westminster parliament.