ABERGAVENNY Welsh Marcher lordship in southeast Wales, named after the town and castle at the confluence of the Usk and Gavenny Rivers.
The valley of the Usk provides a route between the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains, giving access to southern central Wales from the southeast. The lordship controlled the more southerly sector of that route.
The first lord, Hamelin de Ballon, was an associate of King William Rufus. In the later reign of Henry I and the early years of Stephen’s troubled reign, Brian Fitz Count, bastard son of a Duke of Brittany, held the castle. He was succeeded by Miles of Gloucester, Earl of Hereford, c.1141. After the death of Miles’s sons, the lordship passed to the great marcher family of Braose in 1165. The Cantilupe family succeeded to this part of the Braose empire through marriage, c.1230, and their own heiress took the lordship to the family of Hastings, Earls of Pembroke, in 1273. Their long tenure ended with their extinction in 1389 and Abergavenny passed to the younger brother of the Beauchamp Earl of Warwick. His son’s heiress married one of the numerous family of the Nevilles, and from that marriage the present Marquess of Abergavenny descends.
The lordship was similar in extent to the Welsh commote, Gwent Uwchcoed (Upper Gwent) and the Welsh continued to live in the upper parts of the region. A bitter, brutal incident occurred in 1175 when William Braose was responsible for the massacre of several Welshmen in Abergavenny. Later life became more peaceful and cooperative.
The lordship was abolished in 1536 and its lands became the northwest of the new county of Monmouthshire. Abergavenny and district today belong to the unitary authority of Monmouthshire.