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This progenitor of Britishness has been denied her place in the pantheon
The Guardian, December 21 (2007)
Where are you, Hollywood? Where is the dozy BBC? She was a king’s daughter, another’s hostage, and mistress of a third. Her beauty made men tremble at the mention of her name. She was seized from the Celts by the Normans, abducted from her husband’s bed by an infatuated rebel, vanished into the hills with him, and plunged a nation into war. She loved conquerors and conquered alike and had at least seven children by four different men. She was Helen of Troy. But in the pantheon of female history she suffered one handicap. She was Welsh.
At last Princess Nest, daughter of King Rhys of Deheubarth, has been given her just desserts, albeit in an academic essay by Kari Maund (published by Tempus). The ancient bards and chroniclers did their best to jazz up her story, but are unreliable. Nest’s clerical grandson, Gerald of Wales, hardly mentioned her, perhaps disapproving of her Norman liaisons. As a result, Maund’s account of her life is mostly surmise. But Nest’s ghost still flits through the castles where she lived, and Welsh girls are called Nesta (Welsh for Agnes) in her honour.