MADOC AP OWAIN GWYNEDD
The Columbia Encyclopedia:
" MADOC OR MADOG (Madoc ap Owain Gwynedd) fl. 1170?, quassi-historical Welsh prince. According to Welsh legend, Madoc, said to be a son of Owain Gwynedd, discovered America 300 years before Columbus. Witnesses' accounts of finding supposedly Welsh-speaking Native Americans have served to keep alive the story, which is otherwise unsupported by evidence. He is the subject of Robert Southey's Madoc."
"MADOC (MADOC AP OWAIN GWYNEDD) was purported Welsh prince who, some believe, discovered America in 1170, over three hundred years before Christopher Columbus's voyages in 1492.
"His father, King Owain Gwynedd ap Gruffydd had at least 13 children from his two wives, and, it is said, several more born out of wedlock, among them Madoc and his brother Riryd. They were living at a time when Wales was born by strife and civil war.
"Upon his father's death in 1170, as usual fighting broke out among the possible successors, Madoc, disheartened, set sail to explore the western wea, found what is described as a distant and abundant land, and returned to Wales to recruit settlers; he then sailed west a second time for good. Madoc's landing place has been suggested by some theories to be Mobile Bay in what is now Alabama in the United States.
"There is some speculation that these early Welsh settlers had later been absorbed by American Natives, and that members of the Mandan Tribe, strikingly different in culture, language and appearance, might be descendants of Madoc and his fellow voyagers.
" Possibly the first written account of Madoc's story is found in a history of Wales published in 1584 by David Powell (1552?-1598?).
"Another account comes from John Dee in 1577. Dee claimed that King Arthur had won a vast empire in the North Atlantic and that the voyages of Madoc had confirmed the title of the Welsh to those territories. By the age of Elizabeth I of England, Dee asserted, they were under the sovereignty of the queen as successor to the Welsh princes. Basically Dee was making the assertion as a priority claim on North America for Great Britain over those of other nations.
"Recent research by Alan Wilson, Baram Blackett and Jim Michael suggests an even earlier date (and a different person) behind the myth. Using radiocarbon dating and DNA profiling methods on artifacts and human remains found in the US Midwest and in Wales, they claim to have found strong indications that the Khumric (Welsh) Prince Madog Morfran ap Meurig ("the cormorant"), brother of King Arthur II, left Wales in the aftermath brought by heavy destruction due to debris falling from a comet (562 CE), and arrived in North America during the 6th century and set up colonies.
"Several local guest houses and pubs are called Prince Madoc in his memory. However, according to other sources, the towns of Porthmadoc (Porthmadog, Port Madoc) and Tremadoc, county Gwynedd, Wales, are named after the North Welsh industrialist and Member of Parliament, William Alexander Maddock (1773-1828). The Prince Madog, the University of Wales' new research vessel, set sail on 2001-07-26 on her maiden voyage.
" Madoc - A Mystery is a long, multi-layered poem by Paul Muldoon (which won him the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize), exploring the Madoc legend, mostly through association with Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey, who (in 1794) had played with the idea of going to America to set up an "ideal state."
Britannia “Fact About Wales and the Welsh”:
“….According to Welsh legend, Madog ab Owain Gwynedd was a 12th century prince from Gwynedd who sailed westward with a group of followers seeking lands far away from the constant warfare of his native Wales…. During the reign of Elizabeth I, Welsh interest in the New World was stirred by the writings of scholar John Dee (1527-1608), a London Welshman. A key figure in the expansion of Britain overseas, Dee publicized the traditions involving Prince Madog's supposed discovery of the New World. Elizabeth's court officials then diligently promoted attempts to find the Northwest Passage to India as justification for their war against the empire of Spain and proof of the legitimacy of their involvement in the Americas. Dee claimed that King Arthur had ruled over large territories in the Atlantic and that Madog's voyage had confirmed the Welsh title to this empire. The popular theory went that, as successor to the Welsh princes, including Madog, Queen Elizabeth was the rightful sovereign of the Atlantic Empire….
“After the American Revolution, in which a lieutenant from Flintshire, North Wales, serving with the British Army in Ohio claimed to have conversed in Welsh with an Indian chief, fresh interest in the Madog legend was rekindled in Britain. It was helped along with the 1790 publication of an account by historian John Williams and further embellished by the indefatigable myth-maker and inventor of "ancient traditions" Iolo Morgannwg (Edward Jones) as anxious as ever to further the romances of the Celts…. Thus in 1792, Welsh explorer John Thomas Evans (from Waunfawr) was encouraged to search for these "Welsh Indians"…. Evans later branched out to wander on his journeys alone, traveling over 2,000 miles exploring the Missouri Valley. His maps of the hitherto unknown territories were a great help to the later expeditions of Lewis and Clark….
“Evans did not find the missing tribe, which Welsh people called the Madogwys, after the prince. Though he lived with the Mandans for a whole winter, he was not able to find any Welsh influence among them. Yet, despite Evans's letter to the London Cymmrodorion Society in 1797 that denied the existence of the Welsh Mandans, the legend persisted in Britain, even finding its way into English literature. In Robert Southey's long poem Madoc (1805), the poet develops the theme that Madog may have been the white leader from the east who brought an American tribe south into Mexico…. American artist George Catlin claimed to have found the Welsh-speaking Mandans, even depicting some of them before their decimation by smallpox. Thus, despite the failure of Evans and others to find a Welsh-speaking Indian tribe in the American hinterland, a "Madog fever" developed that became a powerful incentive for emigration to the New World…. As far as the legend itself affected the people of Wales, whatever the facts behind it, it became and has steadfastly remained one of the most enduring sources of national pride.
Manitoba Historical Society 1974-75, Series 3, No. 31, by Dr. C. J. Jaenen:
“The Welsh….hinged on the exploits of one called Madoc, son of Owain,
king of Gwynedd, who founded a colony in North America in 1170, more than 300
years before Columbus' first voyage. So far as I have been able to determine,
the first published accounts of this supposed colonization venture were written
by John Dee (1578), Sir George Peckham (1583), and David Powell (1584); these
assertions were given more credibility when incorporated by Richard Hakluyt in
his 1584 edition of Travels. The last reference in this series to Prince Madoc
or Owen-Gwynedd's colony appeared in Sir Thomas Herbert's A Relation of some
Yeares travaile, published in London in 1634, and located it specifically on
"the Gulph of Mexico," i.e. in Spanish America. The obvious question
one must ask is why did a journey purported to have occurred in 1170 not receive
any publicity before the 1580's?”
“The first written account of Madoc's story is in 1583). It was picked up in 's Historie of Cambria (1584) and Richard Hakluyt's The Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation (1589). Such stories served to bolster British claims in the New World versus those of Spain; John Dee went so far as to assert that Brutus of Britain and King Arthur as well as Madoc had conquered lands in the Americas and therefore their heir Elizabeth I of England had a priority claim there. The Welsh Indians were not attested until over a century later. Morgan Jones' tract is the first account, and was printed by The Gentleman's Magazine in 1740, launching a slew of publications on the subject….John Evans and Lewis and Clark reported they had found no Welsh Indians.”'s A True Report of the late Discoveries of the Newfound Landes (
"Madoc" by Robert Southy, 1805 London
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