Manawydan fab Llyr: Third Branch of the Mabinogi
Manawyddan and Pryderi return to Britain, only to find Caswallawn has usurped Manawyddan's right to kingship. Pryderi offers him Dyfed, and his mother Rhiannon as wife. They do homage to Caswallawn, and enjoy their kingdom, until Pryderi climbs up Gorsedd Arberth, and causes a mist to descend on the land. All the people and grain disappear. For seven years, Pryderi, Manawyddan, Rhiannon, and Pryderi's wife Cigfa wander Britain, taking menial jobs, such as being shoemakers. In each place they settle, the locals become jealous of their skills, and they must move. At one point, Pryderi finds an enchanted castle, and inside a bowl. He grips the bowl, and becomes stuck. Rhiannon finds him, and also becomes stuck. They disappear, leaving Manawyddan and Cigfa to wander alone in the deserted Dyfed. Manawyddan attempts to sow grain, but each night mice come and eat it. He catches one pregnant mouse, and attempts to hang her from a tiny scaffold, but is interrupted by a scholar and a bishop, the bishop being Llwyd, husband of the mouse (who is really a woman) in disguise. Llwyd was a friend to Clwyd, and was extracting revenge on Pryderi and Rhiannon. Manawyddan exchanges the mouse-woman for his family, and Dyfed is returned to normal.
John Koch has pointed to a remarkable similarity between this branch and the story of Mandubracius and his usurption by Cassivellaunus.
Despite its mythic and historic elements, one cannot examine this particular branch without also taking into account the influence of the medieval world and its codes of Christianity and chivalry.
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Mary Jones © 2007