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OpenLearn Live: 10th February 2016

Updated Wednesday 10th February 2016

A king with long arms; and the debate about assisted suicide. Free learning across the day.

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Only two things for you today - a look ahead to a programme on TV tonight, and another of our Kings of Wales series.


BBC Two, tonight, 9pm: How To Die

This co-production from the OU and the BBC explores the debate around the right to die through one very personal story - Simon, a man diagnosed with an aggressive form of motor neurone disease who chooses to end his own life rather than face twenty four months of physical decline.

It's by no means an easy watch, but it's an important programme.

Find out more about How To Die

Listen to a debate on the legal rules around assisted suicide


Welsh kings: Cadwallon Lawhir ap Einion

This week, we're starting the day with some legendary exploits of kings from the country that is now Wales. Yesterday, we met Cynan Garwyn; today, we're heading back into the fifth century CE and the reign of Cadwallon Lawhir ap Einion, King of Gwynned.

The site of the court of Cadwallon Law Hir Creative commons image Icon Eric Jones under Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license The site of Cadwon's court. We're struggling a bit with images this week.

"Lawhir" means "long hand" or "long arm". As with virtually everything we've told you about these historical figures this week, there's a bit of dispute over what this nickname really meant. Some, working logically, think it's a metaphor and was an admiring reference to how far his influence reached. Others - including the poet Iolo Goch - think it might have been a literal, physical description. Goch claims Cadwallon could:

reach a stone from the ground to kill a raven, without bending his back, because his arm was as long as his side to the ground

It's worth remembering that Goch lived 800 years or so after Cadwallon, and so the tales of his Ms Marvel style arms might be more stretched than the limbs themselves.

Cadwallon's reign coincided with King Arthur's defeat of the Saxons at the Battle of Badon; it's possible that his own reign was boosted by the period of relative peace and prosperity that settled on the British Isles following this.

Cadwallon wasn't without his own victories - he most notably drove the last Irish insurgents out of Anglsey in a number of bloody battles. These battles were so horrible, the Welsh took to tying themselves to their horses in case they got so scared they wanted to run away. In 517CE the Irish were facing their final defeat. Their leader, Serigi Wyddel, stood and fought while others were clambering into boats and escaping. This bravery impressed the Welsh. Not enough to not put him to the sword, admittedly, but they did accord him the honour of building a church over his grave.

Inspired? Try our free course Discovering Wales and Welsh

 

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