NORMAN LORDSHIP IN SOUTH-EAST WALES DURING THE REIGN OF WILLIAM I WHEN Orderic Vitalis recorded that William FitzOsbern was established in the Marches of Wales 'to fight the bellicose Welsh' his statement must surely have reflected an attitude towards the Welsh prevalent among his contemporaries in the Anglo-Norman communities of Hereford and Worcester, where that author's local knowledge and immediate interest were focused. There was good reason for the harbouring of such a sentiment. Although no Welsh king of the eleventh century had laid realistic claim to exercise territorial control over the Vale of Severn, the Welsh had long regarded the region as a target for plunder. A Welsh penchant for cross- border depredation, typified by the earlier activities of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn, had in recent memory been manifested once more in the acquisitive and opportunistic raids of Iorwerth ap Bleddyn.2 It is not surprising, therefore, that the twelfth-century population of the locality considered that their Welsh neighbours posed an immediate threat which FitzOsbern and his associates sought to contain. Orderic's assessment, however, must be treated with caution, for it presents a simplistic view of the military situation on the Welsh border in 1067. Sporadic forays by Welsh war-bands against the settlements of the March did not constitute sufficient reason to engage the energies of William I's 'principal trouble-shooter'3 during the critical early years of the Conqueror's reign, when Norman control throughout England was by no means confirmed. The Welsh would not have been FitzOsbern's only, or indeed his primary, cause for concern in this region. No immediate conquest of Wales was envisaged by William I. He was aware of the claims to the overlordship of Welsh kingdoms which had been exercised sporadically by earlier English kings, and accepted when politic by Welsh leaders, as their occasional acts of submission and payment of tribute testify. This authority William was not to relinquish. Indeed, he was willing (All Welsh annal references are entered under their corrected dates.) The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, Vol. ii, ed. M. Chibnall (Oxford, 1969), pp. 260-61. Brut y Tywysogyon, Peniarth MS.20 Version, ed. T. Jones (Cardiff, 1952), s.a. 1056 (Gruffudd ap Llywelyn), 1102 (Iorwerth ap Bleddyn). D. Walker, 'The Norman Settlement in Wales', Proceedings of the Battle Conference on Anglo-Norman **««« l, ed. R. A. Brown (Ipswich. 1978), p. 132.