Horrible Histories of Wales
1400: The Peasants are Revolting

We’d never want to put you off visiting our lovely country, but some pretty nasty stuff has happened in Wales over the last 250,000 years or so. It’s fine now, though, honest.

The end of the world 

Prophets In Wales said that the world would come to an end in 1400. Peasants wanted to make the most of the time they had left: they boozed... and they fought. They elected Owain Glyndŵr as their leader.

The English tried to crush the revolt, but storms smashed the English army. The rebels said God was on their side.

Owain Glyndŵr's army

By 1402 Glyndŵr ruled most of Wales but hadn’t captured any castles. He got help from the French... and from rebels in England!

Owain could be pretty cruel in victory. It was said the castle keeper at Peterston-super-Ely was beheaded after he surrendered. 

When Owain Glyndŵr took Radnor Castle, 60 prisoners surrendered. Owain ordered them all to be executed.


It was the future Henry V who defeated the Welsh. In 1405 he killed the Abbot of Llantarnam’s army at a battle near Usk and the war turned against Owain Glyndŵr. And, if you want a terrible tale, Owain’s son, Tudor, was hacked to death and 300 Welsh soldiers were beheaded near the river Usk.

The French stopped helping Owain in 1406.
By 1408 Owain’s army had lost Aberystwyth Castle. 

In 1409 the English took Harlech Castle and captured Owain’s family. But not Owain. No, he slipped away to the mountains to continue the fight. And then… He disappeared! He may have died at his sister’s house in 1415.

In the 1700s Thomas Pennant collected the stories of Owain that made him out as the chief hero of the Welsh. They say he’s still alive. Sitting in a cave playing chess with King Arthur. Waiting for the day when the Welsh need a hero to save them!

Reproduced by kind permission of Scholastic Children’s Books.