The Lord Rhys


  • Richest of the Rich position: 129
  • Birth/Death: died 1197
  • Origin of wealth: Land
  • Wealth: £5,000
  • Net National Income: £1m
  • Net National Income Percent: 0.5%
  • In Today’s Money: £5.549 billion

Rhys ap Gruffydd was probably the last magnate to really rule Wales, doing so through an extraordinary mesalliance with his old enemy Henry I whereby they invaded Ireland together in 1171. Historians note that this agreement was as much to get rid of the Norman Marcher Lords who were threatening Gruffydd’s Welsh domains as to please the Norman king. But it made Gruffydd justiciar, effectively Henry’s viceroy.

In this position he amassed huge tracts of land in Wales, extending his family possessions throughout the kingdom. He bound himself to the most powerful Anglo-Norman families of Wales and the Marches through marriage. He managed to hold on to his possession right up to his death in 1197, peacefully in bed, an unusual end for a warrior king at that period. His four brothers were killed at the beginning of his reign when they had to fight the Normans for their lands in Wales.

Gruffydd’s estate was worth about £5,000 on his death when net national income stood at £1m. His 0.5% share of net national income would be worth £5.5bn in today’s money.

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