Double Discretion at Coity Castle, South Wales
Many conflicts have been settled by marriages (and cynics may say that more have been started by them), but few as boldly – on both sides – as the clash between Normans and Welsh at Coity Castle near Bridgend.
In the 12th century Welsh resistance to the all-conquering Normans was at a low ebb. A Norman warlord Payn de Turberville was besieging Coity Castle, all that stood between him and the lands it dominated. The Welsh Lord of Coity, Morgan, appeared at the castle gate and called for Payn to meet him, which he did. Morgan’s left hand held that of his daughter Sybil; his right a great sword; the Welshman offered his opponent a choice: marry Sybil, or fight on, with every Welsh warrior in the fortress sworn to continue unto death. [An alternative version has the option being a duel against the mighty Morgan].
Payn chose marriage, passing his own sword to his prospective father-in-law and taking Sybil in his arms. How romantic.
Romance as too often was short-lived. Payn would regularly sneak out of the castle at night to find his pleasure elsewhere, on such occasions guard-duty being arranged for his own men only. Sybil found out, and put Welshmen in their place when Payn had left the stronghold, so when he returned he was barred entry. Sybil called out that her own husband was surely still abed, thus the man calling himself Payn must be an imposter: the Norman thought it over, and rather than admit his extracurricular activities to all and sundry the knight spent the night outside the walls in a downpour. Whether that cooled his ardour or not is unknown.
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