Facts and Events
Rhodri ap Gruffudd (or Prince Rhodri or Roderick Fitz Griffin) (c. 1230 – c. 1315) was the third or fourth son of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn Fawr. He was the younger brother of both Llywelyn the Last of Gwynedd, Prince of Wales) and of Owain Goch ap Gruffydd. He was probably the younger brother of Dafydd ap Gruffydd of Gwynedd but may have been the older as there are no accurate records of their birth dates.
Rhodri was born in the early 1230s. His father was Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, the illegitimate but eldest son of Llywelyn the Great, and his mother was Senena ferch Rhodri. Little is known about his early life except that on his grandfather's death in 1240 his uncle Dafydd ap Llywelyn (his father's younger, but legitimate, half brother) inherited the throne and immediately imprisoned his father, thus disinheriting him. Gruffudd was subsequently relinquished by Dafydd under the terms of the Treaty of Gwerneigron following Henry III's invasion of 1241, and taken to London as a hostage where he died in 1244 during a failed attempt to escape from the Tower of London. Also in 1241, Rhodri along with his brother Dafydd ap Gruffydd were sent as hostages to King Henry. Dafydd ap Llywelyn seized the opportunity to wage war against Henry, defeating him in battle in the summer of 1245 during Henry's second invasion of Wales.
In February 1246 Dafydd died without legitimate male heirs, and the throne was inherited under Welsh Law by the four sons of the now dead Gruffudd. A massive struggle ensued between them all but by the 1250s Rhodri's elder brother Llywelyn had consolidated his position as prince and successfully excluded the other siblings from power. Rhodri alone appears to have avoided getting involved in the fighting and by 1272 had agreed to sell his inheritance rights to Llywelyn. It is possible that to enforce this sale that he became Llywelyn's Penteulu, which under Welsh law would mean that he took himself out of the line of succession.
By 1282 (and possibly even earlier) Rhodri had come into the possession of the manor of Bidfield in Gloucestershire. He married into a noble Cheshire family and acquired property there through his wife, Beatrice de Malpas.
[Disputed] Some sources claim that on her death he married one Catherine and by c. 1309 had acquired the manor of Tatsfield in Surrey.
Rhodri died c. 1315. As the only surviving brother of Llywelyn the Last after 1283 he would have been regarded by many as a legitimate claimant to the throne of Gwynedd, and therefore also to the title Prince of Wales. He is reputed to have had at least one son, Thomas ap Rhodri (by Catherine), who was the father to Owain Lawgoch and a daughter, Katherine, who married into the De La Pole family.
The Center for the Study of Ancient Wales has recently put forward the argument that the Rhodri who was married to Catherine, the father of Thomas ap Rhodri and Katherine, grandfather to Owain Lawgoch was not the same Rhodri as Rhodri ap Gruffudd brother of Llywelyn the Last but rather a distant cousin. The most compelling of the arguments made that they are different persons is that Rhodri of Tatsfield who left an heir, Thomas, died in 1315/16 but that when this Thomas applied for the lands of Owain ap Gruffudd as closest male heir, representatives of the (English) crown noted that after Owain ap Gruffudd's death his brother, Rhodri ap Gruffudd, petitioned for the land but died before it was adjudged to him while Edward the 1st was still living. Edward 1st died in 1307 making it clear that these must be different people.