Welsh nationalism | Wikipedia audio article

Welsh nationalism | Wikipedia audio article


Welsh nationalism (Welsh: Cenedlaetholdeb
Cymreig) emphasises the distinctiveness of Welsh language, culture, and history, and
calls for more self-determination for Wales, which might include more devolved powers for
the Welsh Assembly or full independence from the United Kingdom.==Conquest==Through most of its history before the Anglo-Norman
Conquest, Wales was divided into several kingdoms. From time to time, rulers such as Hywel Dda,
Gruffudd ap Llywelyn and Rhodri the Great managed to unify many of the kingdoms, but
their lands were divided on their deaths. Incursions from the English and Normans also
amplified divisions between the kingdoms. In the 12th century, Norman king Henry II
of England exploited differences between the three most powerful Welsh kingdoms, Gwynedd,
Powys, and Deheubarth, allowing him to make great gains in Wales. He defeated and then
allied with Madog ap Maredudd of Powys in 1157, and used this alliance to overwhelm
Owain Gwynedd. He then turned on Rhys ap Gruffydd of Deheubarth, who finally submitted to him
in 1171, effectively subjugating much of Wales to Henry’s Angevin Empire. By 1282, only Gwynedd,
whose ruler was accorded the title Prince of Wales, remained independent. With the defeat
of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd by Edward I Wales lost its last independent kingdom and became
subject to the English crown, either directly or indirectly. It retained some vestiges of
distinction from its neighbour however, retaining the Welsh language, law, and culture.
Until the victory of Henry VII at Bosworth in 1485, the Welsh on many occasions revolted
against English rule in an attempt to gain their independence. The greatest such revolt
was that of Owain Glyndŵr, who gained popular support in 1400, and defeated an English force
at Plynlimon in 1401. In response, the English parliament passed repressive measures that
included denying the Welsh the right of assembly. Glyndŵr was proclaimed Prince of Wales, and
sought assistance from Charles VI of France, but by 1409 his forces were scattered under
the attacks of King Henry IV of England and further repressive measures imposed on the
Welsh. Glyndŵr himself vanished, and his final resting place remains a mystery.==Annexation==
Throughout the period of conquest the Welsh poets kept alive the dream of independence.
In what was known as the canu brud (prophetic poetry), the idea was set out of the coming
of a messiah-like figure, known as Y Mab Darogan (The Son of Destiny), who would not only remove
the English yoke but win back the whole of the Great Britain for the Britons (i.e. the
Welsh). In the Welsh-born Henry VII the Welsh believed that “the Son of Destiny” had come,
and there were no more revolts or talk of revolt – the people of Wales became as loyal
as any of the King’s other subjects. During the reign of Henry VIII the Laws in
Wales Acts were passed without any democratic mandate, annexing Wales into the English legal
system. The repressive measures against the Welsh that had been in place since the revolt
of Owain Glyndŵr over a century earlier were removed. These Acts also gave political representation
for Wales in the Westminster Parliament. Wales continues to share a legal identity with England
to a large degree as part of a joint entity known simply as England until 1967 and England
and Wales since then. The laws also finished the partitioning of Wales into counties that
was begun in 1282 and established local government on the English model. The laws had the effect
of making English the language to be used for all official purposes, thus effectively
excluding non-English speakers from formal office.
On the whole those Welsh people who had a way of expressing an opinion welcomed these
moves and saw them as further proof that Henry VII and his descendants were the long-awaited
sons of destiny and that Wales had regained what it had lost at the conquest of 1282.
Patriotism, or a non-politicised form of nationalism, remained a strong force in Wales, with pride
in its language, customs and history common amongst all levels of society.==Revolutionary ideas==
Along with the rest of Europe the effects of the French Revolution were felt in Wales.
It brought to the forefront a small minority of Welsh people who sympathised with revolutionary
ideas: people such as Richard Price (1723–1791), Iolo Morganwg (1747–1826), and Morgan John
Rhys (1760–1804). In the meantime, counter-revolutionary ideas
flourished amongst the leaders of the Welsh Methodist revival, but the consequences of
turning Wales into a nation with a nonconformist majority was to create a new sense of Welshness.==19th century==
The rapid industrialisation of parts of Wales, especially Merthyr Tydfil and adjoining areas,
gave rise to strong and radical Welsh working class movements which led to the Merthyr Rising
of 1831, the widespread support for Chartism, and the Newport Rising of 1839.With the establishment
of the Presbyterian Church of Wales, nonconformism triumphed in Wales, and gradually the previous
majority of conservative voices within the church allied themselves with the more radical
and liberal voices within the older dissenting churches of the Baptists and Congregationalists.
This radicalism was exemplified by the Congregationalist minister David Rees of Llanelli, who edited
the radical magazine Y Diwygiwr (The Reformer) from 1835 until 1865. But he was not a lone
voice: William Rees (also known as Gwilym Hiraethog) established the radical Yr Amserau
(The Times) in 1843, and in the same year Samuel Roberts also established another radical
magazine, Y Cronicl (The Chronicle). Both were Congregationalist pastors.The growth
of radicalism and the gradual politicisation of Welsh life did not include any successful
attempt to establish a separate political vehicle for promoting Welsh nationalism. On
the contrary Welsh nationalism weakened under the economic pressure as the coal industry
of South Wales increasingly was integrated links with English industry. On the whole
nationalism was the preserve of antiquarians not political activists.But voices did appear
within the Liberal Party, which made great gains in Wales in the 19th century with the
extension of the franchise and the tacit support of Welsh nonconformity. An intended independence
movement established on the pattern of Young Ireland, Cymru Fydd, was established in 1886
but was short-lived. For the majority in Wales, however, the important
question was not one of independence or self-government, but of the disestablishment of the Church
of England in Wales. Nevertheless, their non-political nationalism was strong enough to establish
national institutions such as the University of Wales in 1893, and the National Library
of Wales and the National Museum of Wales in 1907.==Treachery of the Blue Books==Welsh nationalists were outraged by the “Reports
of the commissioners of enquiry into the state of education in Wales” in 1847. The reports
had blue covers, and were ridiculed as Brad y Llyfrau Gleision, or in English, “The Treachery
of the Blue Books”. They found the education system in Wales to be in a dreadful state;
they condemned the Welsh language and Nonconformist religion. Ralph Lingen was responsible for
the Blue Books of 1846. By contrast the Reverend Henry Longueville Jones, Her Majesty’s Inspector
of church schools in Wales between 1848 and 1865, led the opposition to subordination
to the education department under Lingen. Jones’s reports supported bilingual education
and praised the work of many church elementary schools. They came under attack in Whitehall.
Jones failed to gain full support in Wales because of his Anglicanism and his criticisms
of many certified teachers.==Influence of European nationalism==
Two 19th-century figures are associated with the beginnings of Welsh nationalism in the
specific political sense: Michael D. Jones (1822–1898) and Emrys ap Iwan (1848–1906).
Inspired by the Revolutions of 1848 and the growth of Irish nationalism they saw that
Wales was different from England in having its own language which the majority of its
residents spoke and in holding to a nonconformist form of the Christian religion which faced
many disabilities in the face of the state church.==20th century==Nationalism grew as an influence in 20th-century
Wales. At various times both the Labour Party and the Liberal Party took up the cause of
Welsh home rule, or devolution. But it was with the establishment of Plaid Cymru (The
Party of Wales) in August 1925 (by David John Williams, Fred Jones, Saunders Lewis, Moses
Gruffydd, H. R. Jones and Lewis Valentine) that Welsh independence from the UK was first
advocated.The Labour Party dominated politics in 1920s; it suffered a sharp setback in 1931,
but maintained its hold on Wales. The leftists such as Aneurin Bevan who dominated the Party
in Wales rejected nationalism as a backward reactionary movement that was more favorable
to capitalism and not to socialism. Instead they wanted a strong government in London
to reshape the entire state economy.The election of a Labour Government in 1997 included a
commitment to hold a referendum on the establishment of a Welsh Assembly. The referendum was narrowly
won, with Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats and much of Welsh civic society supporting
the Labour Government’s proposals.==21st century==
A 2007 survey by BBC Wales Newsnight found that 20% of Welsh people surveyed favoured
Wales becoming independent of the United Kingdom.In 2009 the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan,
renewed his call for the National Assembly to be granted full law-making powers, calling
for a “greater degree of self-determination” for Wales.A YouGov poll taken in September
2015 suggested that 17% of Welsh people would vote for independence. Another poll by Face
for Business suggests support could be as high as 28%. These are in stark contrast to
the last two polls conducted by icm for the BBC which said support is as low as 5% and
3% respectively.The United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016 saw the
voters in Wales choosing the “Leave” option by 53 per cent to 47 per cent.A Welsh Political
Barometer poll, conducted for ITV-Cymru Wales and Cardiff University’s Wales Governance
Centre from 30 June to 4 July 2016, showed support for Welsh independence had increased
following the Brexit vote. Responding to the question “And please imagine a scenario
where the rest of the UK left the European Union but Wales could remain a member of the
European Union if it became an independent country. If a referendum was then held in
Wales about becoming an independent country and this was the question, how would you vote?
Should Wales be an independent country?” the results were: Yes: 28%, No: 53% Would
Not Vote/Don’t Know: 20%. Removing non-committed voters, 35% of those polled would vote for
independence.===Plaid Cymru===Plaid Cymru was founded in the 1925. Its first
Member of Parliament, Gwynfor Evans, was elected in the Carmarthen by-election, 1966, and today
has four such representatives, along with eleven members of the Welsh Assembly. Historically,
support for the party is concentrated in rural Welsh-speaking areas of north and west Wales,
where most of its MPs have been elected. In the late 1960s and 1990s the party enjoyed
brief surges in support.===Active nationalist parties and movements
===Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Welsh Language
Society). Established in 1962 by members of Plaid Cymru, it is a pressure group campaigning
for Welsh language rights. It uses non-violent direct action in its campaigning, and sees
itself as part of the global resistance movement. Cymru Sovereign (also sometimes referred to
as Sovereign Wales). A Welsh nationalist political party established in March 2016 that seeks
Welsh independence from the United Kingdom and Welsh independence outside of the European
Union (EU). The party also seeks the creation of a publicly owned Central Bank of Wales
and the debt free creation of a Welsh pound currency.
Llais Gwynedd (Voice of Gwynedd). A regionalist party established due to dissatisfaction with
Plaid Cymru in Gwynedd. It currently holds six seats on Gwynedd’s local council.==Defunct nationalist parties and movements
==Cymru Goch (“Red Wales” or “Welsh Socialists”).
Cymru Goch was founded in 1987 to fight for a free and socialist Wales. It published the
monthly magazine Y Faner Goch (The Red Flag). In 2003, it became part of Forward Wales,
which later dissolved in 2010. Cymru Annibynnol (Independent Wales). A political
party founded in 2000 by some former members of Plaid Cymru under the leadership of John
Humphries, a former journalist and editor of the Western Mail. The party fought the
2003 National Assembly elections by putting up candidates for the regional seats. Shortly
after the election they dissolved. The main reason for its existence was unhappiness with
the level of Plaid Cymru’s commitment to independence. Cymuned (Community). A pressure group that
campaigned for Welsh language rights established in 2001, it mainly concentrated its efforts
in the western parts of Wales where Welsh is the main community language. It also saw
itself as part of global movements for the rights of indigenous peoples.
Cymdeithas Cyfamod y Cymry Rhydd (Society of the Covenant of the Free Welsh). Established
in 1987, again because of unhappiness with the level of Plaid Cymru’s commitment to independence.
They achieved publicity by producing their own Welsh “passports”.
Mudiad Adfer (Restoration Movement) was a splinter group of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg
in the 1970s. Taking its Welsh-only philosophy from the works and teachings of Owain Owain
and Emyr Llewelyn, it believed in the creation of “Y Fro Gymraeg” – a monoglot region based
on the existing Welsh language heartlands in the west of Wales. Adfer slowly disappeared
from the scene in the late 1980s. Mudiad Rhyddhad Cymru (“Cymru Liberation Movement”):
A meeting took place in Flintshire on 10 January 2004 between representatives of Balchder Cymru
(Wales Pride), Cymru 1400, Medi 16 (September 16), and the RDM. It was agreed at the meeting
that all four organisations should amalgamate to form a stronger nationalist/republican
movement. They believed that such a move would strengthen the struggle for an independent
Welsh republic. The new movement has been named ‘Mudiad Rhyddhad Cymru’ (MRC). It aimed
to campaign for an independent Welsh republic and to defend Cymru, its language and culture.
Plaid Glyndŵr (“Party of [Owain] Glyndŵr”). Founded by Dennis Morris in 2012, the party
campaigned for full independence for Wales and against colonialism in Wales.==Violent nationalism==
Though mainstream nationalism in Wales has been constitutional, there have been violent
movements associated with it. In 1952 a small republican movement, Y Gweriniaethwyr (“The
Republicans”), were the first to use violence when they made an unsuccessful attempt to
blow up a pipeline leading from the Claerwen dam in mid Wales to Birmingham.In the 1960s
two movements were established in protest against the drowning of the Tryweryn valley
and the 1969 investiture of Charles, Prince of Wales: Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru (“Movement
for the Defence of Wales”, also known as MAC) and the Free Wales Army (also known as FWA,
in Welsh Byddin Rhyddid Cymru). MAC were responsible for numerous bombing attacks on water pipelines
and power lines across Wales. On the eve of the investiture two members of MAC, Alwyn
Jones and George Taylor, died as the bomb they were planting on the railway line to
be used by the Royal Train exploded. The late 1970s and the 1980s saw an organisation
calling itself Meibion Glyndŵr (“sons of Glyndŵr”) responsible for a spate of arson
attacks against holiday homes throughout Wales. In the 1970s, a Welsh Socialist Republican
Army arose, whose initials in Welsh spelt out the English word “DAWN”.==See also==
Breton nationalism (Brittany) Celtic Congress
Celtic League (political organisation) Celts (modern)
Cornish nationalism Cornish self-government movement
English nationalism Gethin ap Gruffydd
Irish nationalism Irish republicanism
List of active autonomist and secessionist movements
Meibion Glyndŵr Pan-Celticism
Scottish independence Scottish nationalism
Ulster nationalism

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