The Welsh Gorsedd

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    Angela Lawton

      I was watching a programme about the poetry competitions and the welsh Gorsedd started in a pub by Iolo, can’t remember his last name. The lady in question said the welsh language was out ruled by the King of England and they weren’t allowed to express themselves in the native tongue and children were caned and made to wear a board around their neck if they spoke welsh. That’s a far cry from the persecution the Irish Catholics suffered at the hands of the English Institutions during the reformation and the subsequent famines. Laissez fair was the procedure adopted by government in place besides the deportations to the colonies as slaves. Robert Peel was oh so generous in that he asked for two pairs of wollen knickers be given to the irish deportees rather than one in winter to see them on an 8 month voyage to a foreign country where their fate was unknown. What an English prick.

      Angela Lawton

        Hi Adam, can you delete this post please? I don’t have the know how and am having second thoughts about it now. I did write a book concerning the plight of Irish Catholics and the reformation but that was sometime ago now and my dates may not be accurate I’m not much of an historical scholar. Thanks.


          Hello there Angela,

          The modern Welsh National Eisteddfod traces its roots to the late-18th Century and its revival was due to the Gwyneddigion Society, of which Iolo Morganwg (Edward Williams) was a member. Iolo himself founded the Gorsedd Beirdd Ynys Prydain, which had a great influence on the ritual and aesthetics of the eisteddfod, however, he didn’t revive the modern eisteddfod per se.

          When Henry VIII, ironically a Tudor – an ancient Welsh aristocratic family – ‘unified’ England and Wales, the Welsh language was not banned outright, but rather relegated to unofficial business, that is to say, legal proceedings, court hearings and so on had to be in English. The effect of this was basically to enforce a linguistic class system or hierarchy in which English, and therefore those who spoke English, were of a higher class and held in greater esteem. Despite this, and also thanks to Welsh literature – including an important Bible translation – Welsh was still in fairly rude health until the early 19th century, when it seems that the great social upheavals, movements of people, and industrialisation – especially in the south – were what started to see the language retreat. The Welsh (k)not, was used in some schools to discourage the use of Welsh among the children. I don’t think it was ever official British government educational policy, however, that does not change the fact that it was a cruel and crass expression of cultural imperialism all the same. Sadly, this was from atypical around the world in situations where a local language language or dialect was not the ‘prestige’ language of the state and government. Similar sorts of linguistic discrimination can be found all over Europe and elsewhere during the 19th and 20th centuries – until relative recently in historical terms.

          Thankfully, we’ve moved on from those times, even though some rather nasty attitudes are still around.


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