Medieval Welsh literature
Medieval Welsh literature is the literature written in the Welsh language during the Middle Ages. This includes material from the fifth century, when Welsh was in the process of becoming distinct from the British language, to the works of the 16th century.The Welsh language became distinct from other dialects of Old British sometime between AD 400 and 700; the earliest surviving literature in Welsh is poetry dating from this period. The poetic tradition represented in the work of Y Cynfeirdd (""The Early Poets""), as they are known, then survives for over a thousand years to the work of the Poets of the Nobility in the 16th century.The core tradition was praise poetry and the poet Taliesin was regarded as the first in the line. The other aspect of the tradition was the professionalism of the poets and their reliance on patronage from kings, princes and nobles for their living. The fall of the Kingdom of Gwynedd and the loss of any form of Welsh independence in 1282 proved a crisis in the tradition, but one that was eventually overcome. It led to the innovation of the development of the cywydd meter, a looser definition of praise, and a reliance on the nobility for patronage.The professionalism of the poetic tradition was sustained by a Guild of Poets, or Order of Bards, with its own ""rule book"" emphasizing the making of poetry as a craft. Under its rules poets undertook an apprenticeship of nine years to become fully qualified. The rules also set out the payment a poet could expect for his work. These payments varied according to how long a poet had been in training and also the demand for poetry at particular times during the year.Alongside the court poet, kings, princes and nobles patronized an official storyteller (Welsh: cyfarwydd). Like poets, the storytellers were also professionals, but unlike the poets little of their work has survived. What has survived are literary creations based on native Welsh tales which would have been told by the storytellers. The bulk of this material is found in the collection known today as the Mabinogion. Medieval Welsh prose was not confined to the story tradition but also included a large body of both religious and practical works in addition to a large amount translated from other languages.