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GRUFFYDD AP NICHOLAS AND THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF LANCASTER AT Carmarthen on New Year's day 1448, Owain ab Ieuan ap Philip accused Ieuan ap Gruffydd Gogh of felony. No ordinary trial followed, for the deputy-justiciar of South, Wales, Gruffydd ap Nicholas, showed an unusual interest in the case. Ieuan's suspicions and Owain's bewilderment were intensified when the former saw his accuser taken into Gruffydd's house and maintained there in unaccustomed comfort for eight weeks, for three days of which he was entertained at Gruffydd's own table. When the day appointed for the settlement of the business arrived, Gruffydd produced white leather jackets and other clothing for them, and his men proceeded to decorate a place chosen for battle in the true style of the medieval joust. In the ensuing fracas Ieuan was slain and Owain's charges, therefore, were apparently justified, for although the procedure of the judicial duel was well-nigh obsolete in fifteenth-century England, recourse to it was still valid. What made the episode a travesty of even antiquated justice was the order by the deputy-justiciar that Owain be promptly beheaded. The head was sold to his friends for £ 40 and the bill for the preparations, amounting to 24s., was met out of the royal revenue. Gruffydd's contempt for justice, for the Crown, and for human sympathy was boundless, for the spectacle was nothing more than a morbid entertainment at the court of a powerful gentleman.1 Indeed, Gruffydd ap Nicholas proved to be the most unscrupulous, the most ambitious, and eventually the most powerful of the king's subjects in West Wales, and it was he who for much of the late-Lancastrian period governed the area in the name of King Henry VI. Born during the last decade of the fourteenth century, during the next fifty years he forged a career unequalled in the history of West Wales during the fifteenth century. Capitalizing on the benefits bestowed by a respected family well versed in the government of Kidwelly and Carmarthenshire, Gruffydd ap Nicholas made himself an indispensable agent of the Crown. Availing himself of the oppor- tunities for material advancement open to royal administrators, he I am indebted to Mr. T. B. Pugh for several valuable suggestions in the writing of this article. 1 Public Record Office, Special Collections. Ministers' Accounts, 1306/7, m. 10; W. S. Holdsworth, A History of English Law (7th edition. London. 1956), I. 310; W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (4 vols.. Oxford. 1773). III, 339-41.