Madog was the son of Maredudd ap Bleddyn and grandson of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn. He followed his father on the throne of Powys in 1132. He is recorded as taking part in the Battle of Lincoln in 1141 in support of the Earl of Chester, along with Owain Gwynedd's brother Cadwaladr ap Gruffydd and a large army of Welshmen. In 1149 he is recorded giving the commote of Cyfeiliog to his nephews Owain Cyfeiliog and Meurig. The same year Madog was able to rebuild Oswestry Castle, a fortress of William Fitzalan. It would seem likely that he had gained both the fortresses of Oswestry and Whittington in 1146.
At this time the King of Gwynedd, between 1149 and 1150, Owain Gwynedd was exerting pressure on the borders of Powys, despite the fact that Madog was married to Susanna, Owain's sister. Madog made an alliance with Ranulf de Gernon, 4th Earl of Chester, but Owain defeated them at the Battle of Ewloe (Coleshill) in 1150 and took possession of Madog's lands in Iâl (English: Yale). In 1157 when King Henry II of England invaded Gwynedd he was supported by Madog, who was able to regain many of his Welsh lands. Even so, he retained the lordships of Oswestry and Whittington. In 1159 Madog would seem to have been the Welsh prince who accompanied King Henry II in his campaign to Toulouse which ended in failure. Returning home to Wales Madog died about 9 February 1160 in Whittington Castle. He was buried soon afterwards in the church of St Tysilio at Meifod, the mother church of Powys.
Madog's eldest son, Llywelyn, was killed soon after his father's death in 1160, Powys was then shared between Madog's sons Gruffydd Maelor, Owain Fychan and Owain Brogyntyn, his nephew Owain Cyfeiliog and half-brother Iorwerth Goch. Powys was never subsequently reunited, being separated into two parts; Powys Fadog (Lower Powys) and Powys Wenwynwyn (Upper Powys). Madog's death enabled Owain Gwynedd to force the homage of Owain Brogyntyn, Madog's youngest son, and effectively annex part of northern Powys.
The poet Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr in his elegy on Madog said:
Edeyrnion (or Edeirnion) was a commote inherited by Owain Brogyntyn and had been the home of his mother (who was not married to his father). Owain may also have been raised there. It was annexed to Gwynedd during Owain's time.
The Mabinogion tale The Dream of Rhonabwy is set during Madog's reign. The central character, Rhonabwy, is one of Madog's retainers sent to bring in Madog's rebellious brother Iowerth Goch ap Maredudd. His titular dream contrasts his own time with the grandeur of King Arthur's period.
Madog's intervention in the Battle of Lincoln in 1141 forms an important plot element in the detective novel Dead Man's Ransom, part of the Brother Cadfael chronicles by Edith Pargeter (writing as Ellis Peters).
Maredudd ap Bleddyn
| Prince of Powys