From early times, minstrels, storytellers, tumblers and jugglers sought shelter through the winter by entertaining noble households. In 1176, the most powerful prince in Wales, Rhys ap Gruffydd, summoned bards and poets from all across the land to compete at his court, offering a chair at his table to the winners. This was the first recorded eisteddfod.
The tradition of eisteddfodau flourished in medieval times but then declined. A resurgence of Welsh nationalism in the 19th century led to the founding of the National Eisteddfod of Wales. This is now a week-long competition for works of music and performance poetry in the Welsh language, a festival held in tents in an open space. The much-coveted prize is still known as a chair.