Huw Llywelyn Rees


 

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22nd May

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By: Huw Llywelyn Rees
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The Roman road, Sarn Helen is named after Saint Elen whose feast day is celebrated today.

Saint Elen  is said to have been the daughter of the British King Octavius and the wife of Magnus Maximus (Macsen), Emperor in Britain, Gaul and Spain. She is said to have introduced into Wales the Celtic form of monasticism from Gaul. Elen's story is told in The Dream of Macsen Wledig, one of the tales included in the Mabinogion.

Elen is also remembered for having Macsen build roads across the country so that the soldiers could more easily defend it from attackers.

She is a patron of the churches of Llanelan on the Gower and at Penisa'r-waun near Caernarfon.  


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Magnus Maximus was Western Roman Emperor from 383 to 388.  He became part of Welsh legend as Macsen Wledig in the Mabinogion. In 383 Maximus took advantage of the increasing dissent Against Roman emperor Gratian by invading Gaul with a large army. He also attempted to preserve the security of Britain, by organising the peaceful settlement of the Irish Deisi tribe in Dyfed, and also organised Cunedda and the Votadini tribe from Yr Hen Gogledd (Southern Scotland) to  deal with the aggressive Irish Ui Liatháin tribe in North Wales.

 Maximus ruled the Western Roman Empire until he was killed in 388, and there is no evidence to suggest that any Roman effort was made to regain control of the west or north and that year would be the effective end of the Roman era in Wales.


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The Dream of Macsen Wledig (Breuddwyd Macsen Wledig) 

Macsen Wledig, the Emperor of Rome, dreamed of a lovely maiden in a faraway land. So vivid was the vision that he scoured the earth in search of her, eventually finding her at Segontium (Caernarfon). The girl, Elen, reciprocated Macsen's feelings, and in return for her hand, her father was awarded sovereignty over Britain. In Macsen's absence, however, a new emperor seized Rome. With the help of men from Britain led by Elen's brother Kynan Meriadoc, Macsen marched across Gaul and recaptured Rome. In gratitude to his British allies, Macsen rewarded them with the area of now known as Brittany. 

The marriage of Maximus and Elen resulted in British descendants such as their daughter, Sevira, commemorated on the Pillar of Eliseg (an early medieval inscribed stone near Llangollen) which says she was married to Vortigern, king of the Britons, which would make Maximus the founding father of several royal dynasties, including those of Powys and Gwent, whose kings would later use the authority of Magnus Maximus as the basis of their inherited political legitimacy.


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Born this day 1949 in Denbigh,

Ieuan Wyn Jones , former Deputy First Minister of Wales and former leader of Plaid Cymru. 


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Born this day 1949 in Llanelli,

Derek Quinnell , a former Wales and Lions rugby international, best remembered for his enthusiastic entry onto the pitch for his international debut for Wales against France in 1972. Unusually he had been capped by the Lions before his Wales debut.  


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  In May 1949, the Council for Wales and Monmouthshire first met, with Huw T. Edwards as its first chairman.  

The formation of the Council was partially the result of pressure from Plaid Cymru. However, it had no real power and was intended to advise the UK government on matters of Welsh interest, including Rural Development and the Welsh Language. 

With the flooding of Capel Celyn, the Council for Wales recommended the creation of a Welsh Office and Secretary of State for Wales early in 1957, proposals which eventually came to fruition in 1964.  


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The Hay Festival is an annual literature festival held in Hay-on-Wye in Powys for ten days at the end of May. Devised  in 1988, the festival was described by Bill Clinton in 2001 as "The Woodstock of the mind".  

The festival has expanded in recent years and now includes musical performances and film previews. A children's festival, "Hay Fever", runs alongside the main festival. 

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