Caradoc Freichfras/ Vraich Vras

He is called the founder of the dynasty of the Princes between Wye and Severne.  His father was a son of the Prince of Gloucester; his mother was co-heiress of the Prince of Brecon and his wife was sole heiress of the King of Monmouth.  It has been written that he was “ Arthurs Favorite Knight” and “cousin to King Arthur” according to the Triads and Guest’s Mabinogion.

His wife was Tegan Eurvron d. and heir to King Pelinar /Pellinore said to be of the Royal line of St. Joseph of Arimathea, the dynasty who guarded the Holy Grail. Arms were Argent, three Wyverns’ heads erased vert in their mouths hands coupt at the wrist, gules with guttee de sang.

The Llyfr Baglan writes:  St. Cradoc sur named Vraichvras, Earle of Heref., Lord of Radnor, Lord of the dolorous Towne, and one of the most hon’able knights of the round table in Kinge Arthur’s tyme.  Cradock Vraichvras beareth S., a cheveron A., 3 speares heads A. languid; this Cradoc did also beare A dragon’s head erased vert portent a hande p’p’ sanglant. Cradoc Vraichvras, sone to llyr merynyth, sone to meichiown gvl, the sone of gwrgostin surnamed gledlwm, the sone of Kenaythe, the sone of Coel surnamed Codebog, some tymes Emperowr of grat Brittain.

Cradock’s fathere ma. Gwen, one of the da. Of Brychan, lo. Of Brec., and sone to Availlach, kinge of Ireland. Cradock himself ma. W’th Tegeyvron, the da. Of noble Pelinor. The nobleness and virtue of that hon’able ladie is most ancient set out amoungest o’r Brittish histories

Quoted from The Mabinogion; Dream of Rhonabwy 

Than spake a tall and stately man, of nobal and flowing speech, saying that it was a marvel that so vast a host should be assembled in so narrow a space, and that it was a still greater marvel that those should be there at that time who had promised to be by mid-day in the battle of Badon, fighting with Osla Gyllellvawr.  “Whether thou mayest choose to proceed or not, I will proceed.”  “Thou sayest well,” said Arthur, “and we will go altogether.”  Iddawe, “ said Rhonabwy, “who was the man who spoke so marvelously unto Arthur erewhile?”  “A man who may speak as boldly as he listeth, Caradawc Vreichvras, the son of Llyr Marini, his chief counselor and his cousin.” 

Caradawc, like Trystan, and many other heros whose names occur in the Mabinogion was celebrated both in Welsh and Norman story.  He was a son of Llyr Merini, a prince of Cornwall, and himself chief elder of Gelliwig, the royal residence in that part of the island.  His mother was Gwen, grand-daughter of Brychan, through whose right he is supposed to have become ruler of the district of Brycheiniog.  According to the Triads, he was one of the battle knights of Britain, and in an Englyn attributed to Arthur himself, he is styled

“Caradawc pillar of the Cymry” 

His prowess at the battle of Cattraeth, is also sung in verse of his contemporary Aneurin, who calls several of his fellow-warriors in evidence of his assertion.

When Caradawg rushed into battle, It was like the tearing onset of the wood-land boar; Bull of the army in the mangling flight, He allured the wild dogs by the action of his hand;  My witnesses are Owain the son of Eulat,  And Gwrien, and Gwynn and Gwriad;  But from Cattraeth, and its work of carnage, From the bill of Hydwn, are it was gained  After the clear mead was put into his hand,  He saw no more the hill of his father. 

From the latter part of this passage, it appears that Caradawc fell in this battle, and the same is again repeated a few lines further on in the passage…

Several Welsh families trace their pedigrees to Caradawc.

Caradawc’s horse Lluagor is recorded as one of the three battle horses of the Island

Tegan Eurvron, the beautiful wife of Caradawc, was no less renowned for her virtue than for her charms.  In the Triads she is spoken of as one of the three fair ladies, and one of the three chaste damsels of Arthur’s Court.  She possessed three precious things of which she alone was worthy; her mantle, her goblet of gold and her knife.  She is frequently alluded to by the bards.

In Anglo-Norman Romance, Caradawc’s cognomen of Vreichvras “with the brawny arm,” becomes Brise Bras” and he himself takes his place as a principal hero of the Round Table.  His wife preserves her British character and attributes under a Norman garb, and is well known as “faithful among the faithless” of Arthur’s Court, the heroine of the mantle, “over her decent shoulders drawn.”  Sir Caradawc’s well founded confidence is his wife’s virtue enabled him to empty the marvelous horn, and carve the tough Boar’s head, adventures in which his compeers failed.  In token of the latter of them, the Boar’s head, in some form or other, appears as the armorial bearing of all of his name.

From  Archaeologia Cambrensis

Story of Golden Mantel 

Once King Arthur called his knights to hold a splendid feast at Pentecost, and he ordered each to bring with him his lady, whether wife or mistress.  It was a crowded assembly, and many a bold knight and fair dame or damsel was present.  Now it was Arthur’s custom on these occasions never to sit down to table until news of some adventure arrived; and this time, while the queen entertained all the ladies in her chambers, the king and his knights waited in the hall, long after the hour of dinner, until they all became impatient.  Suddenly, to their relief, a vallet was seen approaching on horseback, who dismounted in haste, entered the hall and courteously saluted the company.  Arthur returned the salutation, and inquired his business.  The vallet stated that a maiden had sent him from a distant country to present to King Arthur a mantle, which is afterwards stated to have been made by a fairy, and which possessed the property of discovering the falseness of the lady who wore it; for if she were not chaste, it would become instantly too long or too short.  He drew the mantle from his aumosniere (the bag suspended to his girdle) and obtained from the king a promise that the queen and the other ladies present at court should immediately be put to the test; and the mantle was to be the prize of the first lady who underwent the trial without mishap, or, in other words, whom it should fit.  The queen stepped forward, eager to gain the prize; but she had no sooner tried it on than it rumpled up, and put her to so great shame, that she rushed blushing from the hall to hide herself in her chamber.  King Arthur, as may be supposed, was not well please; but he determined to continue the experiment, and one lady after another made the trial, and failed no less than the queen, amid the laughter and jeering of all the worthy knights who were spectators, though each winced a little when it became the turn of his own chere amie.  The scornful knight, Sir Kay, exulted more than any over the shame of the other ladies, yet his own wife was exposed most disgracefully of all.  At length it came to the gentle lady of Sir Caradoc, and she, though far less eager for the trial than her companions, carried off the prize triumphantly, to the great exultation of her husband, and to the admiration of the whole court,- or, at least, with the exception only of the ladies. 

Another version; Scalachronica one of King Arthur’s feasts of Pentecost, “ the same night was sent into the court by a beautiful damsel, the mantle of Karodes, which had such virtue that it would not fit properly her who would let be known to her husband her act and thought; out of which there arose great laughter, for there was not a single woman in the court which the mantle would fit, because it was either too short, or too long, or too tight, beyond measure, except only the wife of Karodes; for which purpose, as was said, it was sent to the court by the father of the said Karodes, who was said to be an enchanter, to prove the goodness of his son’s wife, who was one of the most virtuous of the court. 

Another version:

A boar’s head which was placed on Arthur’s table, and which no one whose wife had been untrue could carve; and Cradoc’s knife was the only one which could cut it, and he accordingly obtained the boar’s head as his reward. 

            Craddocke wan the horne,

                        And the bores head;

            His ladie wan the mantle

                        Unto her meede

            Everye such a lovely ladye

                        God send her well to speede! 

 The romantic stories of the mantle, horn or cup and boar's head probably are not of Welsh or Celtic origin as the whole of the article (not shown here) suggests, but more likely  it is of ancient mid-east origin were the names of heroes are adapted to current times.

Very much debate on the lineage of Caradoc and his wife.  The preceding was merely quotes from several resources.  It will not be debated here as to the accuracy of historical documentation.  Several argue the validity of Caradoc's history but have offered little substantial evidence to dispute the Triads, Bards, and scholars.  The following is an article (probably closest to accurate) from Ancient Wales Studies and our friend Darrell Wolcott.