Thomas ap Gruffydd

(d. 1473)
   During the 1460s, Thomas ap Gruffydd led one of the most influential Lancastrian families in South WALES.
   The son of Gruffydd ap Nicholas, Thomas helped his father establish their family’s ascendancy throughout southwest Wales in the 1440s and 1450s. This dominance was often achieved by force and in defiance of the law and the will of a weak and distant king. The family’s position was threatened after 1455, when the struggle between the English houses of LANCASTER and YORK spilled into Wales, forcing many Welsh families to choose sides. In 1456,HENRY VI sent his half brother, Edmund TUDOR, earl of Richmond, to Wales to reestablish royal authority. Within months, Richmond was at war with William HERBERT and Walter DEVEREUX, the chief Welsh lieutenants of Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York. By joining with Richmond, Thomas and his father earned a royal pardon for all past offences in October 1456. Although the earl died in November, the decision was, at least initially, a wise one, for Richmond’s brother, Jasper TUDOR, earl of Pembroke, restored Lancastrian control to much of Wales over the next three years. After his father’s death in 1460, Thomas and his brothers maintained their Lancastrian allegiance, fighting alongside Pembroke at the Battle of MORTIMER’S CROSS in February 1461, and holding the castle of Carreg Cennen against a Yorkist siege until May 1462. Compelled at last to surrender the castle, Thomas negotiated an agreement that guaranteed his freedom. Thereafter, Thomas and his brothers led the continuing resistance to Yorkist rule in southern and western Wales. After an unsuccessful uprising in 1464, Thomas and his younger son RHYS AP THOMAS fled to BURGUNDY, where they entered the service of Duke PHILIP and, after his death in 1467, the service of his son Duke CHARLES. In Wales, Thomas’s brothers and older sons so vexed the Yorkist regime that EDWARD IV specifically excluded them from a pardon offered to the Lancastrian defenders of HARLECH CASTLE in July 1468. After Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, restored Henry VI to the throne in October 1470, the Lancastrian READEPTION government offered the family a full pardon, and Pembroke’s return to Wales restored the family’s local authority (see Edward IV, Overthrow of). Thomas and his son returned from the continent in 1471, only to find that Edward IV had regained the throne (see Edward IV, Restoration of). Although some of his relatives submitted, Thomas continued at odds with the Herberts, the chief Yorkist family of Wales. He was killed in about 1473 in an encounter with Herbert forces in southern Wales. Although at peace with Edward IV, Thomas’s family was superseded in its local influence in the 1470s by the COUNCIL that ruled Wales in the name of Prince Edward (see Edward V, King of England).
   Further Reading: Evans, H.T.,Wales and the Wars of the Roses (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Alan Sutton Publishing, 1995); Griffiths, Ralph A., Sir Rhys ap Thomas and His Family (Cardiff, UK: University of Wales Press, 1993).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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