Aneirin Wledic
Aneirin Wledic (AD 321 Londinium, Britannia {present-day London, England}-AD 373 Watford, England) was a Roman military officer who was best known for his role in leading the Romano British resistance to the Saxons in the 4th century AD. He was martyred at Watford in the "Watford Massacre" of 373 AD, where Aneirin and his 20 followers were killed in a cavalry clash with Adalgard, a Saxon-Sarmatian officer. He is known as Saint Wledic, the patron saint of Wales, as he led resistance to the outside invaders in the name of Christendom as opposed to the pagan beliefs of the Saxones.


Early Life

Aneirin Wledic was a native Welshman and related to Dejotarus Wledic, either a father or uncle. Wledic was raised in the settlement of Campus Silurii of the Silures tribe, although his family had embraced civilization long before, and in 330, he converted to Christianity. Aneirin Wledic was posted in Greater Britannia's frontier outposts near the Scots-English border and saw some action against the Picts and Scots, using ambush tactics recovered from barbarian turncoats to defeat them on more than one occasion. Although he was only a Corporal in the Western Roman Empire's army at the time of his rebellion in 369 AD, he was certainly a skilled fighter with the brains to fight a protracted struggle against overlords. 

Wledic was supposed to be sent back to Europe for re-deployment after the fall of Eburacum (York), but instead rode out to local towns, looking for soldiers. He was allegedly guided to a marching Roman army by the red dragon of Wales and he cut down the flag pole, declaring that they were no longer Roman, but British. He led his army to the gates of Londinium, and inspected the walls of the Saxons' settlement. In 370 AD he attempted to capture the city but this left 2,400 Romano-British dead and Wledic failed to take it in a fresh attack the next year. Aneirin Wledic was defeated in a series of battles, but raised new volunteers each time, especially from the Welsh Marches, where he made his base. There, he founded the Kingdom of Gwynedd as a Romano British base, and became its first king.

Aneirin Wledic fought the Saxons in northern Britannia a few times, on two occasions defeating a unit of Sarmatian horse archers in a cavalry duel, but was unable to capture any walled cities from the Pagans, and resumed guerilla warfare. However, at the Battle of Foss Way in summer 373 AD, he was dealt a resounding defeat, followed by another crushing loss at the Battle of Durocobrivis in winter. At the Battle of Inhrypom (Ripon, Borough of Harrogate, North Yorkshire) later that winter, he escaped with only twenty bodyguards. 

Martyrdom at Watford


Statue of Aneirin at Caernarvon

Aneirin Wledic made it to central England after this string of defeats, seeking asylum in local villages. None would take him, and Adalgard led 240 Sarmatian horse archers to pursue him. They met in a snowy forest in Watford, and a cavalry clash ensued. All twenty Romano British were killed in the battle, Wledic killing sixty of the Saxons before he was killed with a sword blow. His downfall has been the stuff of legend for the Welsh, who canonized him in 1053.

He was immortalized with heroic status as the defender of Wales from the pagans, but was also a Saint because of his Christendom; although he did not claim that his piety was the precursor to his fighting of the Saxons, he was revered for maintaining the Catholicism of the Welsh lands. Aneirin was also used as a non-religious hero, as he was the defender of Wales from foreign attackers until his death in battle. His example was followed by Llywelyn ap Gruffud, who led resistance to the English until his death in 1282, and Owain Glyndwr, who fought for Welsh independence until his disappearance in 1405.