Owain was a great and powerful king. His lands spread across the north of the province, the slate mountains, the lowland plains, the rugged hilltops, scattered farms, towns and the Great City in the north. From this city he ruled over his kingdom with an iron fist. All in this kingdom knew of his power, the armies he commanded, the great wealth that flowed from the taxes on farms and markets. Yet even with this great power and wealth the king was restless. The kingdoms over the sea to the west seemed on the edge of invasion at any sign of weakness. The southerners were always encroaching through the great forests taking timber and land. There was the ever present threat from eastern neighbours and so Owain was uneasy in his bed at night in this powerful kingdom.
As he lay awake at night he thought to himself, ‘I must make an alliance with the south, then we will be stronger and no-one will dare to attack the greatest kingdom the world has seen.’ The very next morning he sent messengers to Gruffydd King of the southern lands to invite him to visit the great city in the north. Gruffydd was also known to be a powerful king of extensive lands. An alliance with the south would show strength indeed. Gruffydd gracefully accepted this invitation and travelled north to meet with Owain. Wanting to impress his visitor, Owain laid on a great feast for Gruffydd in the great castle that had been made by the people in his kingdom and at his command. It was indeed an impressive castle, stone upon stone was placed until it towered over the surrounding lands. King Gruffydd was silent as he surveyed this scene and smiled at his host.
Not to be dissuaded by the silence, King Owain took Gruffydd to the market place where his armies were making ready for battle, and where the farmers and stall holders paid their taxes to fund the kingdom’s expenses. The armies were adorned with heavy weapons and were great in number indeed over a thousand warriors were at his command, ready for battle in a moment. The markets traded furiously and all the while precious funding poured into the royal chest. Gruffydd smiled at the scene before, but offered no comment or word of encouragement.
Anxious still to impress his southern visitor, Owain took him to the highest point of his kingdom where he could see all the lands he commanded and beyond to his neighbours. “All this I command” said Owain “And your lands could be part of this great kingdom, together no-one would dare attack such a nation. How great we could be together.”
Gruffydd smiled to himself once again, but said nothing in response.
King Owain was becoming concerned that his guest might never be impressed with this Kingdom. ‘He must be very powerful and ruthless if none of this is of interest’ thought Owain. He returned with him to the castle. From a high parapet they looked out over the city. Owain for one last time attempted to impress his powerful position on his guest. “From this tower my subjects would throw themselves at my command, such is my power in this kingdom” At last Gruffydd spoke. In reply to this great and extensive display of his northern neighbours power and wealth Gruffydd looked out over the city and pointed to a small poor hovel outside the city wall. “In my kingdom, I can knock on the door of any dwelling just like that one and receive a welcome, food and shelter. I could sleep in such a house without fear for my safety.”
Turning to his companion Gruffydd asked: “Could you?”