Branwen uerch Lyr: Second Branch of the Mabinogi

Bran is king of Britain, ruling from Harlech. His brothers are Manawyddan, Efniessin and Niessin, and his sister is Branwen. The king of Ireland asks for his sister Branwen in marriage, and the two kingdoms exchange gifts, Ireland giving Britain horses in exchange for Branwen. Efniessin, angry that he wasn't consulted, maimes the horses. The Irish, angry at the insult, attempt to leave. Bran attempts to heal the situation by giving the Irish a magic cauldron of rebirth. The Irish leave with Branwen, who gives birth to a child named Gwern. The Irish hold a grudge, and the king abuses Branwen in anger. She writes to her brother, sending a message with a bird. Bran and his men invade Britain, where they attempt to save her. Upon invading, the Irish attempt to make peace, but secretly hide soldiers in bags of flour. Efniessin crushes the bag, suspecting a plot. Meanwhile, Gwern is made heir to Ireland (and it is implied of Britain). Efniessin takes the child and throws him in a fire, killing him. A battle ensues, killing all but seven Britons and five pregnant Irish women. Bran's head is cut off, and an otherworld feast ensues for eighty years for the seven survivors, which includes Manawyddan, Pryderi, and Taliesin.

Mythic Elements

The Otherworld Raid

The Mead Myth

The Holy Grail

The Divine Twins

The Figure of Strife

The Company of the Head

The Calumnated Wife

Historic Elements

Irish Correspondences

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Mary Jones 2007