King of Gwynedd (1063-1075)
Bleddyn ap Cynfyn was the maternal half brother of Gruffudd who together with his brother Rhiwallon ap Cynfyn had served in Gruffudd's warband. His father Cynfyn ap Gwerstan is sometimed described as a 'king of Powys' and is clear that was where the family's land and power base was located.
When Gruffudd ap Llywelyn was killed in 1063 neither of his two sons, Maredudd and Ithel, were old enough to challenge for power and so Bleddyn and his brother Rhiwallon were there able to establish themselves joint rulers of Gwynedd and Powys.
Their rule did not however, go unchallenged, and in 1069 the sons of Gruffudd attempted to seize power away from their uncles. In the ensuing battle of Mechain both Maredudd and Ithel were killed together with Rhiwallon leaving Bleddyn ap Cynfyn in sole possession of Gwynedd and Powys.
Secure in his possession of the kingdom, Bleddyn continued the policy of Gruffudd of alliance with Mercian nobles, lending troops to Morcar, brother of Gruffudd's old ally Aelfgar to assist him to become earl of Northumbria.
Bleddyn also provided troops for Eadric the Wild who rose in rebellion in 1067 against the new Norman king of England, and once again in 1069 he provided assistance to Morcar when he too rebelled. But by the year 1071 William I had secured England and moved to secure the border with Wales; there was no longer any benefit to be gained by formenting disruption in England.
So in 1075 Bleddyn moved south in Gruffudd ap Llywelyn's footsteps, seeking to expand his influence in Deheubarth. He was ambushed and was "slain through the evil-spirited treachery of the princes of Ystrad Tywi; and it was Rhys ab Owain who slew him". His death was lamented as follows;
the gentlest and most merciful of kings.. who wrought good to all and did harm to no one.. terrible in war, beloved and meek in peace and a defence for all
Although the extent of Bleddyn's dominion is not clear; he was certainly ruler of Gwynedd and Powys and probably of Cerdigion and Brycheiniog as well, and undoubtedly the most powerful Welsh king
After his death his sons were too young to rule, and his dominions passed into the hands of a cousin Trahaern ap Caradog.
Whilst Bleddyn did not succeed in emulating Gruffudd ap Llywelyn's achievement of uniting all Wales under his rule, his sons were to establish a dynasty that was to have a profound effect on the later history of Wales.
The name Bleddyn derived from the Welsh blaidd or wolf, or literally little wolf I believe.
Sourced from Brut y Tywysogion, from which all quotations are derived and The Welsh Kings by Kari Maund (Tempus 2000)