He was born c. 1390. A native of Maelor, in the lower valley of the Dee. His father was Owen Gough, bailiff of the manor of Hanmer; his mother was a daughter of David Hanmer, the nurse of John, lord Talbot, afterwards earl of Shrewsbury. Of the many Welshmen who fought in France during the latter part of the hundred years’ war none won greater distinction than Mathew Gough. His name appears in the list of those who took part in the battles of Cravant (1423) and Verneuil (1424). He was subsequently in command of various towns and fortresses, including Laval, S. Denis, Le Mans, Bellême, and Bayeux. In 1432 he was taken prisoner at S. Denis, an event which caused much solicitude amongst the Welsh bards, and an appeal for funds for his ransom. Guto'r Glyn's voice is typical — ‘Bu ar glêr bryder a braw/ Ban ddaliwyd, beunydd wylaw’ (anxious and alarmed, the bards wept daily when he was captured). His mainly was the responsibility for carrying out the surrender of Anjou and Maine to the French, a distasteful task in which he resorted to many ‘subterfuges, pretences, and dissimulations’ (1447). After the English defeat at Formigny (1449), and the subsequent loss of Normandy, he returned to England, and was put in joint command of the Tower of London. He was killed on London bridge, 5 July 1450, defending the city against Jack Cade's rebels, and he was buried in the choir of S. Mary's of the Carmelite Friars in London. His death, according to William of Worcester, caused universal grief in Wales. There could be no greater tribute to his fame than the prominence given to him in contemporary French chronicles. For many years afterwards the name ‘Matago’ was fondly cherished by the inhabitants of Bellême. To him was given the honour of addressing the English troops on the eve of Formigny. It was his defeat that was the occasion for the chronicler's greatest rejoicing.
Published date: 1959
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