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Nest of Wales in Cilgerran
Cilgerran Castle Cilgerran Pembrokeshire Wales
Princess Nest of Wales is well known for having many lovers, but just how much do you know of her life and in particular, her abduction in 1109? | Nest was born in 1080 to the Prince of Deheubarth (in South Wales) and his wife Gwladus ferch Rhiwallon. She was renowned for her beauty, which is probably the reason why, later on in life, she had so many lovers. Following her father’s murder by the Normans in 1093, Nest was kept hostage by the Norman William Rufus. She then became the mistress of Henry I, William’s younger brother, and had two children by him, Robert FitzRoy, the earl of Gloucester, and Henry FitzRoy, who died in 1156. | Nest was not to stay with Henry I, however; he already had plans to marry a woman named Matilda. Thus Nest went back to South Wales and married Gerald de Windsor, the constable of Pembroke Castle. She soon fell in love with him and together they had five children—this was a total of seven children for Nest by this time –and there were still plenty more to come! | One night Nest’s second cousin Owain came to visit her along with many guests. Owain had not seen his cousin for several years and was taken aback by her beauty. At Christmas in 1109, Owain invaded the castle along with fifteen of his men, desperate to find Nest. In panic Gerald and the children hid in the sewers of the castle and escaped through the toilet hole (which couldn’t have been too clean!). However, Nest was desperate to save her family and was willingly kidnapped by Owain and sent to stay in Cilgerran Castle. She soon became known as the ‘Helen of Wales’, for a small civil war broke out in Wales as a result of the abduction. During her captive years, Nest gave birth to two more children by Owain. When Gerald heard this news, he was outraged and during an ambush a few years later, he killed Owain himself. | Nest was finally returned to Gerald at Carrew Castle. By now, she was the mother of nine children—but she wasn’t going to stop there! When Gerald went away, news arrived at the castle that he had died. In her heartbreak Nest found comfort in a certain Bruno de Hallt. A few days later, Gerald returned home to a horrified Nest. On learning of her pregnancy, Gerald was of course furious, and once the child was born (this being the tenth child), it was sent to its father Bruno to care for. | Gerald died circa 1116 and it is believed that Nest married another lover after him, Stephen Castellan of Cardigan. She had another child with Stephen—this being her eleventh (and thankfully final) child before her death in 1136.
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