THE SON OF LLYR
Four Branches of the Mabinogi 3. Manawyddan the
son of Llyr
Translated by Charlotte Guest 
the seven men of whom we spoke above had buried
the head of Bendigeid Vran, in the White Mount
an London, with its face towards France; Manawyddan
gazed upon the town of London, and upon his companions,
and heaved a great sigh; and much grief and heaviness
came upon him. "Alas, Almighty Heaven, woe
is me," he exclaimed, "there is none
save myself without a resting-place this night."
"Lord," said Pryderi, "be not so
sorrowful. Thy cousin is king of the Island of
the Mighty, and though he should do thee wrong,
thou hast never been a claimant of land or possessions.
Thou art the third disinherited prince."
"Yea," answered he, "but although
this man is my cousin, it grieveth me to see any
one in the place of my brother Bendigeid Vran,
neither can I be happy in the same dwelling with
him." "Wilt thou follow the counsel
of another?" said Pryderi. "I stand
in need of counsel," he answered, "and
what may that counsel be?" "Seven Cantrevs
remain unto me," said Pryderi, "wherein
Rhiannon my mother dwells. I will bestow her upon
thee and the seven Cantrevs with her, and though
thou hadst no possessions but those Cantrevs only,
thou couldst not have seven Cantrevs fairer than
they. Kicva, the daughter of Gwynn Gloyw, is my
wife, and since the inheritance of the Cantrevs
belongs to me, do thou and Rhiannon enjoy them,
and if thou ever desire any possessions thou wilt
take these." "I do not, Chieftain,"
said he; "Heaven reward thee for thy friendship."
"I would show thee the best friendship in
the world if thou wouldst let me." "I
will, my friend," said he, "and Heaven
reward thee. I will go with thee to seek Rhiannon
and to look at thy possessions." "Thou
wilt do well," he answered. "And I believe
that thou didst never hear a lady discourse better
than she, and when she was in her prime none was
ever fairer. Even now her aspect is not uncomely."
set forth, and, however long the journey, they
came at length to Dyved, and a feast was prepared
for them against their coming to Narberth, which
Rhiannon and Kicva had provided. Then began Manawyddan
and Rhiannon to sit and to talk together, and
from their discourse his mind and his thoughts
became warmed towards her, and he thought in his
heart he had never beheld any lady more fulfilled
of grace and beauty than she. "Pryderi,"
said he, "I will that it be as thou didst
say." "What saying was that?" asked
Rhiannon. "Lady," said Pryderi, "I
did offer thee as a wife to Manawyddan the son
of Llyr." "By that will I gladly abide,"
said Rhiannon. "Right glad am I also,"
said Manawyddan; "may Heaven reward him who
hath shown unto me friendship so perfect as this."
before the feast was over she became his bride.
Said Pryderi, "Tarry ye here the rest of
the feast, and I will go into Lloegyr to tender
my homage unto Caswallawn the son of Beli."
"Lord," said Rhiannon, "Caswallawn
is in Kent, thou mayest therefore tarry at the
feast, and wait until he shall be nearer."
"We will wait," he answered. So they
finished the feast. And they began to make the
circuit of Dyved, and to hunt, and to take their
pleasure. And as they went through the country,
they had never seen lands more pleasant to live
in, nor better hunting grounds, nor greater plenty
of honey and fish. And such was the friendship
between those four, that they would not be parted
from each other by night nor by day.
in the midst of all this he went to Caswallawn
at Oxford, and tendered his homage; and honourable
was his reception there, and highly was he praised
for offering his homage.
after his return, Pryderi and Manawyddan feasted
and took their ease and pleasure. And they began
a feast at Narberth, for it was the chief palace;
and there originated all honour. And when they
had ended the first meal that night, while those
who served them ate, they arose and went forth,
and proceeded all four to the Gorsedd of Narberth,
and their retinue with them. And as they sat thus,
behold, a peal of thunder, and with the violence
of the thunderstorm, lo there came a fall of mist,
so thick that not one of them could see the other.
And after the mist it became light all around.
And when they looked towards the place where they
were wont to see cattle, and herds, and dwellings,
they saw nothing now, neither house, nor beast,
nor smoke, nor fire, nor man, nor dwelling; but
the houses of the Court empty, and desert, and
uninhabited, without either man or beast within
them. And truly all their companions were lost
to them, without their knowing aught of what had
befallen them, save those four only.
the name of Heaven," cried Manawyddan, "where
are they of the Court, and all my host beside
these? Let us go and see." So they came into
the hall, and there was no man; and they went
on to the castle and to the sleeping-place, and
they saw none; and in the mead- cellar and in
the kitchen there was nought but desolation. So
they four feasted, and hunted, and took their
pleasure. Then they began to go through the land
and all the possessions that they had, and they
visited the houses and dwellings, and found nothing
but wild beasts. And when they had consumed their
feast and all their provisions, they fed upon
the prey they killed in hunting, and the honey
of the wild swarms. And thus they passed the first
year pleasantly, and the second; but at the last
they began to be weary.
said Manawyddan, "we must not bide thus.
Let us go into Lloegyr, and seek some craft whereby
we may gain our support." So they went into
Lloegyr, and came as far as Hereford. And they
betook themselves to making saddles. And Manawyddan
began to make housings, and he gilded and coloured
them with blue enamel, in the manner that he had
seen it done by Llasar Llaesgywydd. And he made
the blue enamel as it was made by the other man.
And therefore is it still called Calch Lasar [blue
enamel], because Llasar Llaesgywydd had wrought
And as long as that workmanship could be had of
Manawyddan, neither saddle nor housing was bought
of a saddler throughout all Hereford; till at
length every one of the saddlers perceived that
they were losing much of their gain, and that
no man bought of them, but him who could not get
what he sought from Manawyddan. Then they assembled
together, and agreed to slay him and his companions.
they received warning of this, and took counsel
whether they should leave the city. "By Heaven,"
said Pryderi, "it is not my counsel that
we should quit the town, but that we should slay
these boors." "Not so," said Manawyddan,
"for if we fight with them, we shall have
evil fame, and shall be put in prison. It were
better for us to go to another town to maintain
ourselves." So they four went to another
craft shall we take?" said Pryderi. "We
will make shields," said Manawyddan. "Do
we know anything about that craft?" said
Pryderi. "We will try," answered he.
There they began to make shields, and fashioned
them after the shape of the good shields they
had seen; and they enamelled they, as them had
done the saddles. And they prospered in that place,
so that not a shield was asked for in the whole
town, but such as was had of them. Rapid therefore
was their work, and numberless were the shields
they made. But at last they were marked by the
craftsmen, who came together in haste, and their
fellow-townsmen with them, and agreed that they
should seek to slay them. But they received warning,
and heard how the men had resolved on their destruction.
"Pryderi," said Manawyddan, "these
men desire to slay us." "Let us not
endure this from these boors, but let us rather
fall upon them and slay them." "Not
so," he answered; "Caswallawn and his
men will hear of it, and we shall be undone. Let
us go to another town." So to another town
craft shall we take?" said Manawyddan. "Whatsoever
thou wilt that we know," said Pryderi. "Not
so," he replied, "but let us take to
making shoes, for there is not courage enough
among cordwainers either to fight with us or to
molest us." "I know nothing thereof,"
said Pryderi. "But I know," answered
Manawyddan; "and I will teach thee to stitch.
We will not attempt to dress the leather, but
we will buy it ready dressed and will make the
shoes from it."
he began by buying the best cordwal that could
be had in the town, and none other would he buy
except the leather for the soles; and he associated
himself with the best goldsmith in the town, and
caused him to make clasps for the shoes, and to
gild the clasps, and he marked how it was done
until he learnt the method. And therefore was
he called one of the three makers of Gold Shoes;
and, when they could be had from him, not a shoe
nor hose was bought of any of the cordwainers
in the town. But when the cordwainers perceived
that their gains were failing (for as Manawyddan
shaped the work, so Pryderi stitched it), they
came together and took counsel, and agreed that
they would slay them.
said Manawyddan, "these men are minded to
slay us." "Wherefore should we bear
this from the boorish thieves?" said Pryderi.
"Rather let us slay them all." "Not
so," said Manawyddan, "we will not slay
them, neither will we remain in Lloegyr any longer.
Let us set forth to Dyved and go to see it."
they journeyed along until they came to Dyved,
and they went forward to Narberth. And there they
kindled fire and supported themselves by hunting.
And thus they spent a month. And they gathered
their dogs around them, and tarried there one
one morning Pryderi and Manawyddan rose up to
hunt, and they ranged their dogs and went forth
from the palace. And some of the dogs ran before
them and came to a small bush which was near at
hand; but as soon as they were come to the bush,
they hastily drew back and returned to the men,
their hair bristling up greatly. "Let us
go near to the bush," said Pryderi, "and
see what is in it." And as they came near,
behold, a wild boar of a pure white colour rose
up from the bush. Then the dogs, being set on
by the men, rushed towards him; but he left the
bush and fell back a little way from the men,
and made a stand against the dogs without retreating
from them, until the men had come near. And when
the men came up, he fell back a second time, and
betook him to flight. Then they pursued the boar
until they beheld a vast and lofty castle, all
newly built, in a place where they had never before
seen either stone or building. And the boar ran
swiftly into the castle and the dogs after him.
Now when the boar and the dogs had gone into the
castle, they began to wonder at finding a castle
in a place where they had never before seen any
building whatsoever. And from the top of the Gorsedd
they looked and listened for the dogs. But so
long as they were there they heard not one of
the dogs nor aught concerning them.
said Pryderi, "I will go into the castle
to get tidings of the dogs." "Truly,"
he replied, "thou wouldst be unwise to go
into this castle, which thou hast never seen till
now. If thou wouldst follow my counsel, thou wouldst
not enter therein. Whosoever has cast a spell
over this land has caused this castle to be here."
"Of a truth," answered Pryderi, "I
cannot thus give up my dogs." And for all
the counsel that Manawyddan gave him, yet to the
castle he went.
he came within the castle, neither man nor beast,
nor boar nor dogs, nor house nor dwelling saw
he within it. But in the centre of the castle
floor he beheld a fountain with marble work around
it, and on the margin of the fountain a golden
bowl upon a marble slab, and chains hanging from
the air, to which he saw no end.
he was greatly pleased with the beauty of the
gold, and with the rich workmanship of the bowl,
and he went up to the bowl and laid hold of it.
And when he had taken hold of it his hands stuck
to the bowl, and his feet to the slab on which
the howl was placed, and all his joyousness forsook
him, so that he could not utter a word. And thus
Manawyddan waited for him till near the close
of the day. And late in the evening, being certain
that he should have no tidings of Pryderi or of
the dogs, he went back to the palace. And as he
entered, Rhiannon looked at him. "Where,"
said she, "are thy companion and thy dogs?"
"Behold," he answered, "the adventure
that has befallen me." And he related it
all unto her. "An evil companion hast thou
been," said Rhiannon, "and a good companion
hast thou lost." And with that word she went
out, and proceeded towards the castle according
to the direction which he gave her. The gate of
the castle she found open. She was nothing daunted,
and she went in. And as she went in, she perceived
Pryderi laying hold of the bowl, and she went
towards him. "Oh, my lord," said she,
"what dust thou do here?" And she took
hold of the bowl with him; and as she did so her
hands became fast to the bowl, and her feet to
the slab, and she was not able to utter a word.
And with that, as it became night, lo, there came
thunder upon them, and a fall of mist, and thereupon
the castle vanished, and they with it.
Kicva the daughter of Gwynn Gloyw saw that there
was no one in the palace but herself and Manawyddan,
she sorrowed so that she cared not whether she
lived or died. And Manawyddan saw this. "Thou
art in the wrong," said he, "if through
fear of me thou grievest thus. I call Heaven to
witness that thou hast never seen friendship mere
pure than that which I will bear thee, as long
as Heaven will that thou shouldst be thus. I declare
to thee that were I in the dawn of youth I would
keep my faith unto Pryderi, and unto thee also
will I keep it. Be there no fear upon thee, therefore,"
said he, "for Heaven is my witness that thou
shalt meet with all the friendship thou canst
wish, and that it is in my power to show thee,
as long as it shall please Heaven to continue
us in this grief and woe." "Heaven reward
thee," she said, "and that is what I
deemed of thee." And the damsel thereupon
took courage and was glad.
lady," said Manawyddan, "it is not fitting
for us to stay here, we have lost our dogs, and
we cannot get food. Let us go into Lloegyr; it
is easiest for us to find support there."
"Gladly, lord," said she, "we will
do so." And they set forth together to Lloegyr.
said she, "what craft wilt thou follow? Take
up one that is seemly." "None other
will I take," answered he, "save that
of making shoes, as I did formerly." "Lord,"
said she, "such a craft becomes not a man
so nobly born as thou." "By that however
will I abide," said he.
he began his craft, and he made all his work of
the finest leather he could get in the town, and,
as he had done at the other place, he caused gilded
clasps to be made for the shoes. And except himself
all the cordwainers in the town were idle, and
without work. For as long as they could be had
from him, neither shoes nor hose were bought elsewhere.
And thus they tarried there a year, until the
cordwainers became envious, and took counsel concerning
him. And he had warning thereof, and it was told
him how the cordwainers had agreed together to
said Kicva, "wherefore should this be borne
from these boors?" "Nay," said
he, "we will go back unto Dyved." So
towards Dyved they set forth.
Manawyddan, when he set out to return to Dyved,
took with him a burden of wheat. And he proceeded
towards Narberth, and there he dwelt. And never
was he better pleased than when he saw Narberth
again, and the lands where he had been wont to
hunt with Pryderi and with Rhiannon. And he accustomed
himself to fish, and to hunt the deer in their
covert. And then he began to prepare some ground,
and he sowed a croft, and a second, and a third.
And no wheat in the world ever sprung up better.
And the three crofts prospered with perfect growth,
and no man ever saw fairer wheat than it.
thus passed the seasons of the year until the
harvest came. And he went to look at one of his
crofts, and behold it was ripe. "I will reap
this to-morrow," said he. And that night
he went back to Narberth, and on the morrow in
the grey dawn he went to reap the croft, and when
he came there he found nothing but the bare straw.
Every one of the ears of the wheat was cut from
off the stalk, and all the ears carried entirely
away, and nothing but the straw left. And at this
he marvelled greatly.
he went to look at another croft, and behold that
also was ripe. "Verily," said he, "this
will I reap to-morrow. And on the morrow he came
with the intent to reap it, and when he came there
he found nothing but the bare straw. "Oh,
gracious Heaven," he exclaimed, "I know
that whosoever has begun my ruin is completing
it, and has also destroyed the country with me."
he went to look at the third croft, and when he
came there, finer wheat had there never been seen,
and this also was ripe. "Evil betide me,"
said he, "if I watch not here to-night. Whoever
carried off the other corn will come in like manner
to take this. And I will know who it is."
So he took his arms, and began to watch the croft.
And he told Kicva all that had befallen. "Verily,"
said she, "what thinkest thou to do?"
"I will watch the croft to-night," said
he went to watch the croft. And at midnight, lo,
there arose the loudest tumult in the world. And
he looked, and behold the mightiest host of mice
in the world, which could neither be numbered
nor measured. And he knew not what it was until
the mice had made their way into the croft, and
each of them climbing up the straw and bending
it down with its weight, had cut off one of the
ears of wheat, and had carried it away, leaving
there the stalk, and he saw not a single stalk
there that had not a mouse to it. And they all
took their way, carrying the ears with them.
wrath and anger did he rush upon the mice, but
he could no more come up with them than if they
had been gnats, or birds in the air, except one
only, which though it was but sluggish, went so
fast that a man on foot could scarce overtake
it. And after this one he went, and he caught
it and put it in his glove, and tied up the opening
of the glove with a string, and kept it with him,
and returned to the palace. Then he came to the
hall where Kicva was, and he lighted a fire, and
hung the glove by the string upon a peg. "What
hast thou there, lord?" said Kicva. "A
thief," said he, "that I found robbing
me." "What kind of thief may it be,
lord, that thou couldst put into thy glove?"
said she. "Behold I will tell thee,"
he answered. Then he showed her how his fields
had been wasted and destroyed, and how the mice
came to the last of the fields in his sight. "And
one of them was less nimble than the rest, and
is now in my glove; to-morrow I will hang it,
and before Heaven, if I had them, I would hang
them all." "My lord," said she,
"this is marvellous; but yet it would be
unseemly for a man of dignity like thee to be
hanging such a reptile as this. And if thou doest
right, thou wilt not meddle with the creature,
but wilt let it go." "Woe betide me,"
said he, "if I would not hang them all could
I catch them, and such as I have I will hang."
"Verily, lord," said she, "there
is no reason that I should succour this reptile,
except to prevent discredit unto thee. Do therefore,
lord, as thou wilt." "If I knew of any
cause in the world wherefore thou shouldst succour
it, I would take thy counsel concerning it,"
said Manawyddan, "but as I know of none,
lady, I am minded to destroy it." "Do
so willingly then," said she.
then he went to the Gorsedd of Narberth, taking
the mouse with him. And he set up two forks on
the highest part of the Gorsedd. And while he
was doing this, behold he saw a scholar coming
towards him, in old and poor and tattered garments.
And it was now seven years since he had seen in
that place either man or beast, except those four
persons who had remained together until two of
them were lost.
lord," said the scholar, "good day to
thee." "Heaven prosper thee, and my
greeting be unto thee. And whence dost thou come,
scholar?" asked he. "I come, lord, from
singing in Lloegyr; and wherefore dost thou inquire?"
"Because for the last seven years,"
answered he, "I have seen no man here save
four secluded persons, and thyself this moment."
"Truly, lord," said he, "I go through
this land unto mine own. And what work art thou
upon, lord?" "I am hanging a thief that
I caught robbing me," said he. "What
manner of thief is that?" asked the scholar.
"I see a creature in thy hand like unto a
mouse, and ill does it become a man of rank equal
to thine to touch a reptile such as this. Let
it go forth free." "I will not let it
go free, by Heaven," said he; "I caught
it robbing me, and the doom of a thief will I
inflict upon it, and I will hang it." "Lord,"
said he, "rather than see a man of rank equal
to thine at such a work as this, I would give
thee a pound which I have received as alms, to
let the reptile go forth free." "I will
not let it go free," said he, "by Heaven,
neither will I sell it." "As thou wilt,
lord," he answered; "except that I would
not see a man of rank equal to thine touching
such a reptile, I care nought." And the scholar
went his way.
as he was placing the crossbeam upon the two forks,
behold a priest came towards him upon a horse
covered with trappings. "Good day to thee,
lord," said he. "Heaven prosper thee,"
said Manawyddan; "thy blessing." "The
blessing of Heaven be upon thee. And what, lord,
art thou doing?" "I am hanging a thief
that I caught robbing me," said he. "What
manner of thief, lord?" asked he. "A
creature," he answered, "in form of
a mouse. It has been robbing me, and I am inflicting
upon it the doom of a thief." "Lord,"
said he, "rather than see thee touch this
reptile, I would purchase its freedom." "By
my confession to Heaven, neither will I sell it
nor set it free." "It is true, lord,
that it is worth nothing to buy; but rather than
see thee defile thyself by touching such a reptile
as this, I will give thee three pounds to let
it go." "I will not, by Heaven,"
said he, "take any price for at. As it ought,
so shall it be hanged." "Willingly,
lord, do thy good pleasure." And the priest
went his way.
he noosed the string around the mouse's neck,
and as he was about to draw it up, behold, he
saw a bishop's retinue with his sumpter-horses,
and his attendants. And the bishop himself came
towards him. And he stayed his work. "Lord
bishop," said he, "thy blessing."
"Heaven's blessing be unto thee," said
he; "what work art thou upon?" "Hanging
a thief that I caught robbing me," said he.
"Is not that a mouse that I see in thy hand?"
"Yes," answered he. "And she has
robbed me." "Aye," said he, "since
I have come at the doom of this reptile, I will
ransom it of thee. I will give thee seven pounds
for it, and that rather than see a man of rank
equal to thine destroying so vile a reptile as
this. Let it loose and thou shalt have the money."
"I declare to Heaven that I will not set
it loose." "If thou wilt not loose it
for this, I will give thee four- and-twenty pounds
of ready money to set it free." "I will
not set it free, by Heaven, for as much again,"
said he. "If thou wilt not set it free for
this, I will give thee all the horses that thou
seest in this plain, and the seven loads of baggage,
and the seven horses that they are upon."
"By Heaven, I will not," he replied.
"Since for this thou wilt not, do so at what
price soever thou wilt." "I will do
so," said he. "I will that Rhiannon
and Pryderi be free," said he. "That
thou shalt have," he answered. "Not
yet will I loose the mouse, by Heaven." "What
then wouldst thou?" "That the charm
and the illusion be removed from the seven Cantrevs
of Dyved." "This shalt thou have also;
set therefore the mouse free." "I will
not set it free, by Heaven," said he. "I
will know who the mouse may be." "She
is my wife." "Even though she be, I
will not set her free. Wherefore came she to me?"
"To despoil thee," he answered. "I
am Llwyd the son of Kilcoed, and I cast the charm
over the seven Cantrevs of Dyved. And it was to
avenge Gwawl the son of Clud, from the friendship
I had towards him, that I cast the charm. And
upon Pryderi did I revenge Gwawl the son of Clud,
for the game of Badger in the Bag, that Pwyll
Pen Annwvyn played upon him, which he did unadvisedly
in the Court of Heveydd Hen. And when it was known
that thou wast come to dwell in the land, my household
came and besought me to transform them into mice,
that they might destroy thy corn. And it was my
own household that went the first night. And the
second night also they went, and they destroyed
thy two crofts. And the third night came unto
me my wife and the ladies of the Court, and besought
me to transform them. And I transformed them.
Now she is pregnant. And had she not been pregnant
thou wouldst not have been able to overtake her;
but since this has taken place, and she has been
caught, I will restore thee Pryderi and Rhiannon;
and I will take the charm and illusion from off
Dyved. I have now told thee who she is. Set her
therefore free." "I will not set her
free, by Heaven," said he. "What wilt
thou more?" he asked. "I will that there
be no more charm upon the seven Cantrevs of Dyved,
and that none shall be put upon it henceforth."
"This thou shalt have," said he. "Now
set her free." "I will not, by my faith,"
he answered. "What wilt thou furthermore?"
asked he. "Behold," said he, "this
will I have; that vengeance be never taken for
this, either upon Pryderi or Rhiannon, or upon
me." "All this shalt thou have. And
truly thou hast done wisely in asking this. Upon
thy head would have lighted all this trouble."
"Yea," said he, "for fear thereof
was it, that I required this." "Set
now my wife at liberty." "I will not,
by Heaven," said he, "until I see Pryderi
and Rhiannon with me free." "Behold,
here they come," he answered.
thereupon behold Pryderi and Rhiannon. And he
rose up to meet them, and greeted them, and sat
down beside them. "Ah, Chieftain, set now
my wife at liberty," said the bishop. "Hast
thou not received all thou didst ask?" "I
will release her gladly," said he. And thereupon
he set her free.
Llwyd struck her with a magic wand, and she was
changed back into a young woman, the fairest ever
around upon thy land," said he, "and
then thou wilt see it all tilled and peopled,
as it was in its best state." And he rose
up and looked forth. And when he looked he saw
all the lands tilled, and full of herds and dwellings.
"What bondage," he inquired, "has
there been upon Pryderi and Rhiannon?" "Pryderi
has had the knockers of the gate of my palace
about his neck, and Rhiannon has had the collars
of the asses, after they have been carrying hay,
about her neck."
such had been their bondage.
by reason of this bondage is this story called
the Mabinogi of Mynnweir and Mynord.
thus ends this portion of the Mabinogi.
The Four Branches of the Mabinogi 3. Manawyddan
the son of Llyr
Translated by Charlotte Guest