"Men of Harlech" or "The March of the Men of Harlech" (in Welsh: Rhyfelgyrch Gwŷr Harlech) is a song and military march which is traditionally said to describe events during the seven year long siege of Harlech Castle between 1461 and 1468. Commanded by Constable Dafydd ap Ieuan, the garrison held out in what is the longest known siege in the history of the British Isles. “Through Seven Years” is an alternate name for the song.Now some associate the song with the earlier shorter siege of Harlech Castle around 1408, which pitted the forces of Owain Glyndŵr against the future Henry V of England."
"Men of Harlech" is sometimes mistaken for the national anthem of Wales. This is incorrect; the Welsh anthem is "Hen Wlad fy Nhadau" ("Land of my Fathers"). Still, the song occupies an important place in Welsh national culture. It is the regimental march of several regiments historically associated with Wales. The Royal Regiment of Wales, now the Royal Welsh (UK), the Royal Canadian Hussars (Montreal) and the Governor General's Horse Guards, Canadian Forces are three examples. It is also the regimental march for two Australian Army Reserve units, the 8th/7th Battalion of The Royal Victoria Regiment and Sydney University Regiment where it is played as a quick march.
The music was first published in 1794 as March of the Men of Harlech in the second edition of The Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards. It first appeared with lyrics in Gems of Welsh Melody, edited by the Welsh poet, John Owen (Owain Alaw), published in London, England and Wrexham, Wales in 1860. The Welsh lyrics are by the Welsh poet John Jones (Talhaiarn), and the English lyrics by W.H. Baker. Since then, many different versions of the English lyrics have appeared.
The song gained international recognition when it was featured prominently in the 1964 film Zulu, although the version of lyrics sung in it were written especially for the film. It was also featured in a 1950 Western, Apache Drums, at the conclusion of the 1945 film The Corn Is Green, starring Bette Davis, and at the conclusion of the 1995 film The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain starring Hugh Grant.
In Welsh mythology Harlech is forever associated with the legend of Branwen, the daughter of Llyr, whose story is recorded in the masterpiece of Medieval Welsh literature, The Mabinogion. "Bendigeidfran son of Llyr ... was at Harlech in Ardudwy, at his court. And they were seated upon the rock of Harlech overlooking the sea..."
On this rugged promontory, a spur of the Harlech Dome (one of the oldest known geological rock formation in the world) now stands the architectural grandeur of Harlech Castle. The castle, now a World Heritage listed site was one of Edward 1's "iron ring" of fortresses, built in the 13th century to subdue the newly conquered lands of North Wales.
Harlech Castle was prominent in Welsh history several times. Owen Glendower captured it and held a parliament there in the early 15th century. Queen Margaret took refuge there in 1460, when her husband, Henry VI, was captured. In 1647, during the English Civil War, Harlech Castle was the last Welsh fortress surrendered to the Parliamentary armies.
Harlech Castle In 1404 the Castle was captured by Owain Glyndwr during the great national uprising of the Welsh. Harlech became Glyndwr's official residence and court and the place to which he summoned parliaments of his supporters. It was here that he was formally crowned as Prince of Wales, witnessed by envoys from Scotland, France and Spain. The Castle was recaptured by the English in 1409 under the command of Harry of Monmouth, the future King Henry V and victor of Agincourt. Sixty years later Harlech was one of the last Lancastrian strongholds during the Wars of the Roses.
1992 Jeffrey L Thomas.
"Kyng Edward", wrote the Chronicler John Warkworth, "was possessed of alle Englande excepte a castelle in Northe Wales called Harlake." The Castle gave shelter to Henry VI's Queen, Margaret of Anjou before finally surrendering after a fierce and lengthy resistance to the Yorkist seige in 1468. It was from this seige that the song "Men of Harlech" is said to originate. For lyrics, information and to hear the tune click here. During the Civil War Harlech was defended for the king and was the last Royalist castle to fall. Its surrender to the beseiging Parliament forces in March of 1647 marked the end of the Civil War and brought Oliver Cromwell to the region.
John Oxenford version
Men of Harlech, march to glory,
Victory is hov'ring o'er ye,
Bright-eyed freedom stands before ye,
Hear ye not her call?
At your sloth she seems to wonder;
Rend the sluggish bonds asunder,
Let the war-cry's deaf'ning thunder
Every foe appall.
Echoes loudly waking,
Hill and valley shaking;
'Till the sound spreads wide around,
The Saxon's courage breaking;
Your foes on every side assailing,
Forward press with heart unfailing,
'Till invaders learn with quailing,
Cambria ne'er can yield!
Thou, who noble Cambria wrongest,
Know that freedom's cause is strongest,
Freedom's courage lasts the longest,
Ending but with death!
Freedom countless hosts can scatter,
Freedom stoutest mail can shatter,
Freedom thickest walls can batter,
Fate is in her breath.
See, they now are flying!
Dead are heap'd with dying!
Over might hath triumph'd right,
Our land to foes denying;
Upon their soil we never sought them,
Love of conquest hither brought them,
But this lesson we have taught them,
"Cambria ne'er can yield!"
Glyndŵr, see thy comet flaming,
Hear a heavenly voice declaiming,
To the world below proclaiming,
Cambria shall be free:
While thy star on high is beaming,
Soldiers from the mountains teeming,
With their spears and lances gleaming,
Come to follow thee.
Hear the trumpet sounding
While the steeds are bounding,
On the gale from hill and dale,
The war-cry is resounding:
Warriors famed in song and story,
Coming from the mountains hoary,
Rushing to the fields of glory,
Eager for the fray:
To the valley wending,
Hearths and homes defending,
With their proud and valiant prince,
From ancient kings descending;
See the mighty host advancing,
Sunbeams on their helmets dancing,
On his gallant charger prancing,
Glyndŵr leads the way.
Now to battle they are going,
Every heart with courage glowing,
Pride and passion overflowing
In the furious strife:
Lo! the din of war enrages,
Vengeance crowns the hate of ages,
Sternly foe with foe engages,
Feeding Death with Life:
Hear the trumpets braying,
And the horses neighing,
Hot the strife while fiery foes
Are one another slaying;
Arrows fly as swift as lightning,
Shout on shout the tumult height'ning,
Conquest's ruddy wing is bright'ning,
Helmet, sword, and shield;
With their lances flashing,
Warriors wild are crashing,
Through the tyrant's serried ranks
Whilst onward they are dashing:
Now the enemy is flying,
Trampling on the dead and dying;
Victory aloft is crying,
"Cambria wins the field!"
Zulu movie version
Men of Harlech stop your dreaming
Can't you see their spear points gleaming
See their warrior pennants streaming
To this battlefield
Men of Harlech stand ye steady
It cannot be ever said ye
For the battle were not ready
We'll stand, never yield
From the hills rebounding
Let this war cry sounding
Summon all at Cambria's call
The mighty force surrounding
Men of Harlech on to glory
This will ever be your story
Keep these burning words before ye
Welshmen will not yield.
English version by John Guard
Tongues of fire on Idris flaring,
News of foemen near declaring,
To heroic deeds of daring,
Call you, Harlech men.
Groans of wounded peasants dying,
Wails of wives and children flying,
For the distant succour crying,
Call you, Harlech Men.
Shall the voice of wailing,
Now be unavailing,
You to rouse, who never yet
In battle's hour were failing?
This our answer, crowds down pouring,
Swift as winter torrents roaring.
Not in vain the voice imploring
Calls on Harlech men.
Loud the martial pipes are sounding,
Every manly heart is bounding,
As our trusted chief surrounding,
March we, Harlech men.
Short the sleep the foe is taking;
Ere the morrow's morn is breaking,
They shall have a rude awakening,
Roused by Harlech Men.
Mothers, cease your weeping,
Calm may be your sleeping,
You and yours in safety now,
The Harlech men are keeping.
Ere the sun is high in heaven,
They you fear, by panic riven,
Shall, like frightened sheep, be driven,
Far, by Harlech men.