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Madoc, also spelled Madog, ab Owain Gwynedd was, according to folklore, a Welsh prince who sailed to America in 1170, over three hundred years before Christopher Columbus's voyage in 1492. According to the story, he was a son of Owain Gwynedd, and took to the sea to flee internecine violence at home. The "Madoc story" legend evidently evolved out of a medieval tradition about a Welsh hero's sea voyage, to which only allusions survive. However, it attained its greatest prominence during the Elizabethan era, when English and Welsh writers wrote of the claim that Madoc had come to the Americas as an assertion of prior discovery, and hence legal possession, of North America by the Kingdom of England.

The "Madoc story" remained popular in later centuries, and a later development asserted that Madoc's voyagers had intermarried with local Native Americans, and that their Welsh-speaking descendants still live somewhere in America. These "Welsh Indians" were credited with the construction of a number of landmarks throughout the Midwestern United States, and a number of white travelers were inspired to go and look for them. The "Madoc story" has been the subject of much speculation in the context of possible pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact. No conclusive archaeological proof of such a man or his voyages has been found in the New or Old World; however, speculation abounds connecting him with certain sites, such as Devil's Backbone, located on the Ohio River at Fourteen Mile Creek near Louisville, Kentucky.

Madoc (disambiguation)

Madoc or Madog was a legendary Welsh prince who allegedly discovered America in 1170.

Both names are also used as Welsh masculine given names, diminutive forms of the Welsh name Aed, and either may refer to:

People in history:

  • Madog ap Rhiryd a 12th-century prince of part of Powys
  • Madog ap Maredudd, the last prince of a united Kingdom of Powys
  • Princes of Powys Fadog in north-east Wales:
    • Madog ap Gruffydd Maelor, son of Madog ap Maredudd, prince 1191-1236
    • Madog II ap Gruffydd, Lord of Dinas Bran, son of Gruffydd II ap Madog, prince 1269-1277
    • Madog Crypl, grandson of Madog II ap Gruffydd, prince 1289-1304, sometimes known as Madog III
    • Madog Fychan, probably son of Madog Crypl, prince 1304-c.1325
  • Madog ap Llywelyn, a 13th-century prince of the Kingdom of Gwynedd

In culture pertaining to Wales:

  • Madoc ap Uthyr, a legendary figure, son of Uther Pendragon, father of Eliwlod and brother of King Arthur
  • Maen Madoc, a menhir (standing stone) in the Brecon Beacons
  • Madoc (poem), an 1805 poem by Robert Southey
  • Madog, a poem by T. Gwynn Jones


  • Madoc, Ontario, a township in Canada
  • Madoc, Ontario (town), a nearby village
  • Madog River in Guam
Madoc (poem)

Madoc is an 1805 epic poem composed by Robert Southey. It is based on the legend of Madoc, a supposed Welsh prince who fled internecine conflict and sailed to America in the 12th century. The origins of the poem can be traced to Southey's schoolboy days when he completed a prose version of Madoc's story. By the time Southey was in his twenties, he began to devote himself to working on the poem in hopes that he could sell it to raise money to fulfill his ambitions to start a new life in America, where he hoped to found Utopian commune or " Pantisocracy". Southey finally completed the poem as a whole in 1799, at the age of 25. However, he began to devote his efforts into extensively editing the work, and Madoc was not ready for publication until 1805. It was finally published in two volumes by the London publisher Longman with extensive footnotes.

The first half of the poem, Madoc in Wales, describes Madoc, a young Welsh nobleman, whose family breaks down into a series of bloody disputes over royal succession. Madoc, unwilling to participate in the struggle, decides to journey to America to start a new life. When he reaches America, he is witness to the bloody human sacrifices that the Aztec nation demands of the surrounding tribes in Aztlan. Madoc, believing it is a defiance against God, leads the Hoamen, a local tribe, into warfare against the Aztecs. Eventually, Madoc conquers them and he is able to convert the Americans to Christianity before returning to Wales to find more recruits for his colony. In the second part, Madoc in Aztlan, Madoc returns to find that the Aztecs have returned to their human sacrifices. After long and bloody warfare, Madoc is able to defeat the Aztecs and force them out of their homeland and into exile.

The poem contains Southey's bias against superstition, whether Catholic, Protestant, or pagan. He believed that the work itself was more historical than epic, and it contained many of Southey's political views. Critics gave the work mixed reviews, with many saying that there were beautiful scenes, but many feeling that the language fell short of being adequate for the subject matter. One review went so far to mock Southey's reliance on Welsh and Aztec names.