Madog ab Owain Gwynedd, more commonly known as Madoc, is one of history’s most controversial figures. So controversial in fact, that you have probably never even heard of him.
Well if you do happen to be one of those hipsters of history, you can just leave right now because I’m sure I’ve got nothing new to tell you. As for the rest of you, listen up because this guy and his beard are awesome.
So, remember how Christopher Columbus discovered America? If you’re like me, you’re a little suspicious of the notion that some dude with no beard and a weird hat could discover what would become the most dominant nation of the modern era.
According to Welsh folklore, about 300 years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, Madoc and his beard set sail across the Atlantic to discover the New World. Many historians are skeptical of the validity of this story, based on the technicality that no concrete evidence exists to support it. I however, was not fooled. I smelled a conspiracy.
With the help of my November Beard, growing stronger by the day, I dug deeper into the story. Madoc is purported to be the son of the very historically REAL Owain Gwynedd, known as one of the greatest Welsh rulers of the Middle Ages. The problem is that he had 13 children with his two wives and several more out of wedlock (I’m assuming he also had a beard, and the ladies couldn’t keep their hands off him), and no contemporary record exists of Madoc in the birth line.
When Owain died, his throne was up for grabs and his mob of offspring started fighting over who got to succeed him. According to the legend, Madoc was tired of all the bickering so he got in a boat and headed West.
When his fleet arrived, they found the land to be abundant and the natives to be friendly. His men set out to form a colony and Madoc returned to Wales to recruit settlers, then sailed right back.
A few hundred years later when the beardless explorers of the world finally figured out there was another continent, numerous stories began to circulate about groups of Native Americans whose looks and culture were different from any others, and who understood and could speak the Welsh language. These are purported to be the descendants of Madoc and his crew, who intermarried with the native tribes. Several architectural feats are attributed to Madoc and his Welsh settlers as well. The wall of Fort Mountain (which tribes described as being built by a race of “moon-eyed” people with fair skin and hair) is often attributed to them, as is the excavation of the “Welsh Caves,” located at what is now DeSoto State Park in Alabama, as Native Americans were not known to have knowledge of stone excavation. Multiple counts of discovering skeletons with Welsh coats-of-arms were also reported in the 18th century.
So why does no formal record of Madoc exist? The horrible truth may surprise you. As you know, Columbus was a Spanish explorer. When early beardless Spanish settlers arrived in the mainland around 1520 to claim it for their Spanish Motherland, much to their dismay they found that bearded Welsh/Native American descendants of Madoc were EVERYWHERE. This didn’t exactly fit well with their story that they were the first to discover the continent. So they hatched a diabolical plan to cover up all evidence of Madoc: the largest genocide the world had ever known.
That’s right, I’m talking about smallpox. These Spanish explorers were the first to introduce the deadly disease into the Native American population. Though it is not know how many Native Americans lived on the continent when they arrived, estimates of up to 112 million have been proposed. It is also estimated that mortality rates for smallpox-infected natives was as high as 80-90%. Smallpox wiped out most of the Native American population, and took any evidence of the illegitimate son of a Welsh prince who followed his beard across the Atlantic to discover America with it.
Modern historians may not agree with my theory, but the facts all add up. Christopher Columbus was in fact a beard hater and you owe all of your apple-pie-eating, baseball-loving, bald-eagle-appreciating, stars and stripes American lifestyle to Madoc.
(Coincidentally, my own last name, Maddox, is derived from the Welsh surname Maddock, meaning “son of Madoc”)
God bless the United States of No Shave November.