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View Tree for Princess of Deheubarth NestaPrincess of Deheubarth Nesta (d. Bef. 1136)

Picture of Princess of Deheubarth Nesta

Princess of Deheubarth Nesta (daughter of Thys ap Griffyd ap Tudor Mawr, Prince of South W and Gwladys) died Bef. 1136. She married Gerald de Windsor on Bet. 1075 - 1117, son of Walter FitzOther and Beatrice.

 Includes NotesNotes for Princess of Deheubarth Nesta:
Nest, Princess of Deheubarth

Died: BEF 1136

Known as the most beautiful woman in Wales. She had many lovers.
In Christmas 1108 Owain ap Cadwgan of Cardigan came to visit Gerald and Nesta.
He so lusted after her that he, that night, attacked the castle and carried
her off and had his way with her. This upset Henry I so much that the incident
started a war.

Father: ap Tewdwr Mawr, Rhys, Prince S. Wales

Mother: , Gwladys

Married to de Windsor, Gerald, Constable of Pembroke Ctl

Child 1: Fitzgerald, William
Child 2: de Windsor, Maurice Fitzgerald, b. 1100
Child 3: Fitzgerald, David, Bishop of St. Davids
Child 4: Fitzgerald, Angharad

Associated with , Henry I Beauclerc, King of England

Child 5: fitzHenry, Henry, b. ABT 1103

Married to , Stephen, Constable of Cardigan

Child 6: FitzStephen, Robert

Nesta of South Wales
James Barnett Adair p13



Princess Nesta was a very remarkable woman. She is sometimes referred to as the "mother of the Irish invasion" since her sons, by various fathers, and her grandsons were the leaders of the invasion. She had, in the course of her eventful life, two lovers, two husbands, and many sons and daughters. Her father is quoted as saying that she had 10 children as a result of her matrimonial escapades, eight sons and two daughters, among them William fitzGerald de Windsor. One of her lovers was King Henry I of England. Some years before she married Gerald, her father, the fierce old Prince of South Wales, was fighting the English under Henry, (then the Prince and later King). Henry succeeded in taking the lovely Nesta as hostage. By this royal lover, she had two sons; Meyler fitzHenry and the celebrated Robert of Gloucester. It would seem that Gerald, busily engaged in military business, could have had no peace about his wife, since she was clever as well as beautiful, and every warrior seems to have fallen in love with her. In 1095, Gerald led an expedition against the Welsh on the borders of what is now Pembrokeshire. In 1100, he went to Ireland to secure for his lord, Arnulf Montgomery, the hand of the daughter of King Murrough in marriage. He was the first of the Geraldines to set foot in Ireland, where they were later to rule like kings. Later, Arnulf joined in a rebellion against the King, was deprived of his estates and exiled in 1102. Then the King granted custody of Pembroke Castle to Gerald. Later, he was appointed president of the County of Pembrokeshire.

But it was Nesta that occupied the center of their stage during their marriage. Her beauty continued to excite wonder and desire throughout Wales. At Christmas in 1108, Cadwgan, Prince of Cardigan, invited the native chieftains to a feast at Dyvet (St. David's). Nesta's beauty was a subject of conversation. She excited the curiosity of Owen, the son of Prince Cadwgan, who resolved to see her. She was his cousin, so that the pretense of a friendly visit was easy. He successfully obtained admission with his attendants into Pembroke Castle. Her beauty -- it was even greater than he expected -- excited his lust. He determined to carry her off! In the middle of the night, he set fire to the castle, and his followers surrounded the room where Gerald and Nesta were sleeping. Gerald was awakened by the noise and about to discover the cause, but Nesta, suspecting some /treason, persuaded him to make his escape. She pulled up a board and let her husband escape down a drain by a rope. Then Owen broke open the door, seized Nesta and two of her sons, and carried them off to Powys, leaving the castle in flames. Owen had his way with Nesta, (historians say that one of her ten children was his), though whether she yielded from desire or force was uncertain. But at her request, Owen hastened to send back the two sons to Gerald. When King Henry heard of Nesta's abduction, he was furious. He regarded it as an injury almost personal, since Gerald was not only his steward, but his particular friend. The abduction of Nesta led to a war, which resulted in her return to her husband, and Owen fled to Ireland. Gerald took a conspicuous role in the fighting. In 1116, Henry ordered Owen, who had returned to Wales, to apprehend Gruffuyd, son of Rhys ap Tewdyr. As he passed through a wood on his march to join up with the royal forces, Owen seized some cattle. The owners of the cattle, as they fled, met Gerald, Constable of Pembroke. Gerald was also on his way to join the royal forces. When the cattle owners requested his assistance, he was only too delighted to have the opportunity for revenge for the insult to his honor done by Owen's abduction of Nesta. He lost no time in pursuing Owen, found him, and a skirmish followed. Owen was slain, an arrow piercing his heart, and Gerald's honor was avenged.

Gerald died about 1135, leaving three sons and a daughter by Nesta. They were: Maurice, one of the principal leaders of the Irish invasion in 1169; William, ancestor of the families of Carew, Grace, Fitzmaurice, Gerald, and the Keatings of Ireland; David, who became bishop of St. David's; and Angareth, wife of William de Bari, and mother of the historian, Gerald Cambrensis. Nesta married again. Her second husband was Stephen, Constable of Cardigan, by whom she had one son, Robert fitzStephen. Nesta's children and their descendants constituted a menace to the English rule of Wales. Royal Welsh blood mingled with the blood of the nobles of Normandy in all the half-brothers, sons of Gerald of Windsor and Stephen of Cardigan. Bastard or legitimate, they were turbulent princes in a /troubled land. Now fighting the Welsh natives, now allying themselves with their cousin, Nesta's brother Gruffuyd, the unconquered Prince of Wales, on whose head Henry had set "a mountain of gold", they remained a constant source of /trouble to the King, an ever-present threat to his security.

And so they fought, these Norman barons, and they went on fighting. It was the able and ambitious Henry II, one of England's really great kings, (the Henry of "Becket" and "Lion in Winter"), the father of Richard the Lionhearted and John of the Magna Carta, who was to find a solution. He was to give these Norman adventurers a free hand in Ireland. It was thus that the Norman invasion of Ireland came about, and the Geraldines arrived in 1169.


Nesta (or Nest), Princess of Deheubarth

The earliest Welsh ancestor of the first Lord of Kerry with whom we can associate a date was Gwriad of Man who died in A.D. 825.

According to Welsh oral history,
Gwriad of Man, King of Gwynedd, was the
son of Elidir ap Sandde,
son of Sandde ap Alcwn,
son of Alcwn ap Tegid,
son of Tegid ap Gwair,
son of Gwair ap Dwywg,
son of Dwywg ap Llywarch,
son of Llywarch Hen ap Elidir,
son of Elidir ap Meirchion,
son of Meirchion Gul ap Gwrst,
son of Gwrst ap Ceneu,
son of Ceneu,
son of Coel Hen,
son of Tehvant,
son of Urban. Notes:

In a personal name,
"ap" = "mac" = "fitz" = "son";
"hen" = "old".
In the 9th century,
Wales had three parts,
Gwynedd (North Wales),
Deheubarth (South Wales),
and Powys.

Gwriad of Man had a son called Marvyn Vrych (d. A.D. 843) who became the King of Powys17. Rhodri Mawr , the son of Marvyn, became King of Powys upon the death of his father. His mother was Esyllt, Queen of North Wales. He married Angharad, heiress of South Wales and daughter of Meuric ap Dyfnwal (possibly the first known "Maurice" in our family) Lord of Caerdigan. Rhodri Mawr ruled Powys, North Wales, and South Wales. By his wife Angharat, Rhodri Mawr, who was slain in A.D. 876, had at least two children:

Anarawd ap Rhodri Mawr, King of North Wales, from whom was descended Henry VII, King of England and founder of the royal line of Tudor.
Cadell ap Rhodri Mawr, King of South Wales, who took possession of the Kingdom of Powys in A.D. 900. He died in A.D. 907 and was succeeded by his son Hywel ap Cadell, surnamed Dha, or the Good.
Hywel ap Cadell Dha, King of South Wales, annexed Powys, and in A.D. 947, also usurped the crown of North Wales. He died in A.D. 948 and left an elder son, Owain ap Hywel Dha. Owen ap Hywel Dha, King of South Wales, died about A.D. 987. By his first marriage he was the great-grandfather of Rhys ap Tewdwr Mawr.

Rhys ap Tewdwr Mawr and his second wife, Gwladys ferch Rhiwallon ap Cynfyn, had at least three children:

Gruffydd ap Rhys, Lord of S. Wales (d. 1137)
Nesta, Princess of Deheubarth (d. 1136).17
Nesta was firstly mistress to Henry I; secondly she married Stephen, Constable of Cardigan; thirdly she married Gerald of Windsor.56 Gerald and Nesta had four children:

William fitzGerald.
Maurice fitzGerald.
David fitzGerald.
Angarat, a daughter.
The second son, Maurice fitzGerald, was one of the leaders of the Norman invasion of Ireland in A.D. 1170. A second leader was his half-brother, Robert FitzStephen.

Considering the Welsh ancestry of both Gwladys and Nesta, it is clear that the genetic heritage of the children of Gerald fitzWalter was at least 75% Welsh despite the Norman names. In addition, we know that the Norman invasion of Ireland was launched primarily from Wales with most of the participating soldiers recruited in Wales. The total genetic input of the Norman invasion of Ireland was well over 50% Welsh. For this reason, the invasion of A.D. 1170 is often described as the Cambro-Norman invasion.

More About Princess of Deheubarth Nesta and Gerald de Windsor:
Marriage: Bet. 1075 - 1117

Children of Princess of Deheubarth Nesta and Gerald de Windsor are:
  1. +William Fitzgerald, b. Bet. 1081 - 1118, d. 1173.
  2. +Maurice Fitzgerald de Windsor, b. 1100, Ireland, d. 01 Sep 1176, Wexford, Ireland.
  3. +David Fitzgerald, b. Bet. 1081 - 1118, d. 1176.
  4. +Angharat Fitzgerald, b. Bet. 1081 - 1118, d. Bet. 1092 - 1200.
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