Before England created Welsh fiefs, what would the rulers of land be called in the area now called Wales? Wales existed as smaller kingdoms, ruled by kings, but were there lesser titles, such as how in England we had dukes and earls and barons?

Wikipedia gives a list of translations of British titles (such as baron to barwn) but these seem to be simply the Welsh translation for English words as opposed to actual titles held by lords. Did early Wales or the early Welsh kingdoms even have lower-ranking lords?

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    Well, the towne of Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch lived under the feudal Kingdom of Gwynedd, which of course doesn't answer the question but you have no idea how long I've waited to be able to use that name in conversation...
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 20:26

2 Answers 2


Brenhin Pennaf - the high king, supreme king
Brenhin - king
Pendeuic - duke
Arglwyd - baron or landed lord
Canghellor - governor
Deleyr - mayor or count, a local chief

Hyneyw - a royal counselor
Tywysog - a noble

Note that all of these words have lots of different spellings. A king may be "brennin" or "brennan" or "vrenhin" or many other spellings.

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    Wow that was quick! Thanks so much I've been searching for ages and came up utterly dry. Do you have a source for it or is it your own knowledge (curious)? For Pendeuic a Google search pops up prince. Is that just a quirk of the language/interchangeable? Wish I could upvote more than once if I'm honest.
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 22:02
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    A pendeuic is like a duke, not the son of a king. The Google word is just using "prince" in the Machiavellian sense of a noble leader. Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 22:30
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    Any noble is a tywysog, so the brennan is a tywysog too (unless he is some random bastard with no lineage); it just means you are of noble blood. A deleyr is a local chieftain, so that would be like the mayor in the case of a city. It is sort of the lowest level of a lord, so maybe baronet or something like that would be a closer approximation. Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 22:54
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    Since the prefices pen- and penn- mean roughly head or chief in Welsh, one have to ask if deuic has meaning on it's own. Is a pendeuic actually the "head deuic"? Also since "pendragon", translates literally as "head dragon" and refers to a war chief, might that title correspond to the Marquis of a March.? Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 21:21
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    Pwyll Pendefic Dyfed (the first branch of the Mabinogi) is usually rendered "Pwyll Prince of Dyfed".
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Feb 3, 2021 at 22:14

This is wrong. Wales for the most part was feudal so there was only ever 1 king never mind Supreme King.

A royal welsh hierachy would look more like this:

  1. Brenin - King (There wasn't really any kings for the most part)
  2. Tywysog / Tywysoges - Prince / Princess
  3. Arglwydd - Lord
  4. Maer - Mayor

It wasn't really much more than that as things like duke and baron were mostly English.

When Tyler said that there were multiple spellings for king, it is not true. Those are just pronunciations for the word. As a Welsh speaker I can assure you of this. Not to mention other misspellings in the other titles.

The Welsh peerage system was really small before England invaded.

  • I don't know what you mean by "Those are just pronunciations for the word". Spelling was much more variable in those days, in Welsh as well as English. FWIW, I haven't fo0und a spelling other than brenhin in the text in the Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Feb 3, 2021 at 22:58

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