The Bretons (Breton: Bretoned, Breton pronunciation: [breˈtɔ̃nɛt]) are a Celtic[7][8] ethnic group located in the region of Brittany in France. They trace much of their heritage to groups of Brittonic speakers who emigrated from southwestern Great Britain, particularly Cornwall and Devon, mostly during the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain. They migrated in waves from the 3rd to 9th century (most heavily from 450 to 600) into Armorica, which was subsequently named Brittany after them.[9]

The main traditional language of Brittany is Breton (Brezhoneg), spoken in Lower Brittany (i.e. the western part of the peninsula). Breton is spoken by around 206,000 people as of 2013.[10] The other principal minority language of Brittany is Gallo; Gallo is spoken only in Upper Brittany, where Breton is less dominant. As one of the Brittonic languages, Breton is related closely to Cornish and more distantly to Welsh, while the Gallo language is one of the Romance langues d'oïl. Currently, most Bretons' native language is standard French.

Brittany and its people are counted as one of the six Celtic nations. Ethnically, along with the Cornish and Welsh, the Bretons are Celtic Britons. The actual number of ethnic Bretons in Brittany and France as a whole is difficult to assess as the government of France does not collect statistics on ethnicity. The population of Brittany, based on a January 2007 estimate, was 4,365,500.[11] It is said that, in 1914, over 1 million people spoke Breton west of the boundary between Breton and Gallo-speaking region—roughly 90% of the population of the western half of Brittany. In 1945, it was about 75%, and today, in all of Brittany, the most optimistic estimate would be that 20% of Bretons can speak Breton. Brittany has a population of roughly four million, including the department of Loire-Atlantique, which the Vichy government separated from historical Brittany in 1941. Seventy-five percent of the estimated 200,000 to 250,000 Breton speakers using Breton as an everyday language today are over the age of 65.

A strong historical emigration has created a Breton diaspora within the French borders and in the overseas departments and territories of France; it is mainly established in the Paris area, where more than one million people claim Breton heritage. Many Breton families have also emigrated to the Americas, predominantly to Canada (mostly Quebec and Atlantic Canada) and the United States. People from the region of Brittany were among the first European settlers to permanently settle the French West Indies, i.e. Dominica, Guadeloupe and Martinique, where remnants of their culture can still be seen to this day. The only places outside Brittany that still retain significant Breton customs are in Île-de-France (mainly Le Quartier du Montparnasse in Paris), Le Havre and in Îles des Saintes, where a group of Breton families settled in the mid-17th century.

Bretons (French)
Bretoned/Breizhiz (Breton)
Roderic O'Conor - Une Jeune Bretone
Une Jeune Bretonne, painting by Roderic O'Conor
Total population
c. 6–8 million
Regions with significant populations
 France6–7 million
     Brittany3,120,288[1] · [note 1]
             Loire-Atlantique1,246,798[2] · [note 2]
     Île-de-France1,500,000 [3]
             Le Havre70,000[4]
 Canada (predominantly  Quebec)14,290[5]
French, Breton, Gallo
Predominantly Roman Catholic
Related ethnic groups
Celts: Britons (Cornish, English and Welsh) Gaels (Irish, Manx, Scots),[6]


Historical origins of the Bretons

The Brittonic-speaking community around the sixth century. The sea was a communication medium rather than a barrier.

In the late 4th century, large numbers of British auxiliary troops in the Roman army may have been stationed in Armorica. The 9th-century Historia Brittonum states that the emperor Magnus Maximus, who withdrew Roman forces from Britain, settled his troops in the province. Nennius and Gildas mention a second wave of Britons settling in Armorica in the following century to escape the invading Anglo-Saxons and Scoti. Modern archaeology also supports a two-wave migration.[12]

It is generally accepted that the Brittonic speakers who arrived gave the region its current name as well as the Breton language, Brezhoneg, a sister language to Welsh and Cornish.

There are numerous records of Celtic Christian missionaries migrating from Britain during the second wave of Breton colonisation, especially the legendary seven founder-saints of Brittany as well as Gildas. As in Cornwall, many Breton towns are named after these early saints. The Irish saint Columbanus was also active in Brittany and is commemorated accordingly at Saint-Columban in Carnac.

In the Early Middle Ages, Brittany was divided into three kingdoms—Domnonée, Cornouaille (Kernev), and Bro Waroc'h (Broërec)—which eventually were incorporated into the Duchy of Brittany. The first two kingdoms seem to derive their names from the homelands of the migrating tribes in Britain, Cornwall (Kernow) and Devon (Dumnonia). Bro Waroc'h ("land of Waroch", now Bro Gwened) derives from the name of one of the first known Breton rulers, who dominated the region of Vannes (Gwened). The rulers of Domnonée, such as Conomor, sought to expand their territory, claiming overlordship over all Bretons, though there was constant tension between local lords.

Bretons were the most prominent of the non-Norman forces in the Norman conquest of England. A number of Breton families were of the highest rank in the new society and were tied to the Normans by marriage.[13] The Scottish Clan Stewart and the royal House of Stuart have Breton origins. Alan Rufus, also known as Alan the Red, was both a cousin and knight in the retinue of William the Conqueror. Following his service at Hastings, he was rewarded with large estates in Yorkshire. At the time of his death, he was by far the richest noble in England. His manorial holding at Richmond ensured a Breton presence in northern England. The Earldom of Richmond later became an appanage of the Dukes of Brittany.

Modern Breton identity

Flag of Brittany (Gwenn ha du)
The modern flag of Brittany: Gwenn-ha-du (White-and-black)

Many people throughout France claim Breton ethnicity, including a few French celebrities such as Marion Cotillard,[14] Malik Zidi,[15] Patrick Poivre d'Arvor, Yoann Gourcuff, Nolwenn Leroy and Yann Tiersen.[16]

After 15 years of disputes in the French courts, the European Court of Justice recognized Breton Nationality for the six children of Jean-Jacques and Mireille Manrot-Le Goarnig; they are "European Citizens of Breton Nationality".[17] In 2015, Jonathan Le Bris started a legal battle against the French administration to claim this status.

Breton diaspora

The Breton diaspora includes Breton immigrants in some cities of France like Paris, Le Havre and Toulon, Breton Canadians and Breton Americans, along with other French immigrants in other parts of the Americas. Some of the more notable examples include Jack Kerouac, Celine Dion, Augusto Pinochet, Jim Carrey and Sylvester Stallone.[18]



The Breton people are predominantly members of the Catholic Church, with minorities in the Reformed Church of France and non-religious people. Brittany was one of the most staunchly Catholic regions in all of France. Attendance at Sunday mass dropped during the 1970s and the 1980s, but other religious practices such as pilgrimages have experienced a revival. This includes the Tro Breizh, which takes place in the shrines of the seven founding saints of Breton Christianity. The Christian tradition is widely respected by both believers and nonbelievers, who see it as a symbol of Breton heritage and culture.

Bretagne Finistere StJeanTrolimon 11032
Sculpted calvaries can be found in many villages

Breton religious tradition places great emphasis on the "Seven Founder Saints":


A pardon is the patron saint's feast day of the parish. It often begins with a procession followed by mass in honour of the saint. Pardons are often accompanied by small village fairs. The three most famous pardons are:

  • Sainte-Anne d'Auray/Santez-Anna-Wened
  • Tréguier/Landreger, in honour of St Yves
  • Locronan/Lokorn, in honour of St Ronan, with a troménie (a procession, 12 km long) and numerous people in traditional costumes

Tro Breizh

There is an ancient pilgrimage called the Tro Breizh (tour of Brittany) which involves pilgrims walking around Brittany from the grave of one of the Seven Founder Saints to another. Nowadays pilgrims complete the circuit over the course of several years. In 2002, the Tro Breizh included a special pilgrimage to Wales, symbolically making the reverse journey of the Welshmen Paul Aurelian, Brioc, and Samson. According to Breton religious tradition, whoever does not make the pilgrimage at least once in his lifetime will be condemned to make it after his death, advancing only by the length of his coffin each seven years.[19]

Folklore and traditional belief

Some pagan customs from the old pre-Christian tradition remain the folklore of Brittany. The most powerful folk figure is the Ankou or the "Reaper of Death".


Percentage of breton speakers in the breton countries in 2004
Regional statistics of Breton speakers, in 2004

The Breton language is a very important part of Breton identity. Breton itself is one of the Brittonic languages and is closely related to Cornish and more distantly to Welsh.[20] Breton is thus an Insular Celtic language and is more distantly related to the long-extinct Continental Celtic languages such as Gaulish that were formerly spoken on the European mainland, including the areas colonised by the ancestors of the Bretons.

In eastern Brittany, a regional langue d'oïl, Gallo, developed; it shares certain areal features such as points of vocabulary, idiom, and pronunciation with Breton but is a Romance language). Neither language has official status under French law; however, some still use Breton as an everyday language (particularly the older generation) and bilingual road signs are common in the west of Brittany.

From 1880 to the mid-20th century, Breton was banned from the French school system and children were punished for speaking it in a similar way to the application of the Welsh Not in Wales during the 19th and 20th centuries. The situation changed in 1951 with the Deixonne Law allowing Breton language and culture to be taught 1–3 hours a week in the public school system on the proviso that a teacher was both able and prepared to do so. In modern times, a number of schools and colleges have emerged with the aim of providing Breton-medium education or bilingual Breton/French education.[21]

There are four main Breton dialects: Gwenedeg (Vannes), Kerneveg (Cornouaille), Leoneg (Leon) and Tregerieg (Trégor), which have varying degrees of mutual intelligibility. In 1908, a standard orthography was devised. The fourth dialect, Gwenedeg, was not included in this reform, but was included in the later orthographic reform of 1941.[21]

Breton-language media

Newspapers, magazines and online journals available in Breton include Al Lanv,[22] based in Quimper, Al Liamm,[23] Louarnig-Rouzig, and Bremañ.

There are a number of radio stations with broadcasts in the Breton language, namely Arvorig FM, France Bleu Armorique, France Bleu Breizh-Izel, Radio Bro Gwened, Radio Kerne, and Radio Kreiz Breizh.

Television programmes in Breton are also available on France 3 Breizh, France 3 Iroise, TV Breizh and TV Rennes. There are also a number of Breton language weekly and monthly magazines.[21]


Fest noz 3
A fest-noz in the Pays Gallo in September 2007 as part of the Mill Góll festival


A fest-noz is a traditional festival (essentially a dance) in Brittany. Many festoù-noz are held outside Brittany, taking regional Breton culture outside Brittany. Although the traditional dances of the fest-noz are old, some dating back to the Middle Ages, the fest-noz tradition is itself more recent, dating back to the 1950s. Fest-Noz was officially registered on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 by UNESCO on the "Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity."

Traditional dance

There are many traditional Breton dances, the most well-known being gavottes, an dro, the hanter dro, and the plinn. During the fest-noz, most dances are practised in a chain or in a circle (holding a finger); however, there are also dances in pairs and choreographed dances with sequences and figures.

Traditional Breton music

Two main types of Breton music are a choral a cappella tradition called kan ha diskan, and music involving instruments, including purely instrumental music. Traditional instruments include the bombard (similar to an oboe) and two types of bagpipes (veuze and binioù kozh). Other instruments often found are the diatonic accordion, the clarinet, and occasionally violin as well as the hurdy-gurdy. After World War II, the Great Highland bagpipe (and binioù bras) became commonplace in Brittany through the bagadoù (Breton pipe bands) and thus often replaced the binioù-kozh. The basic clarinet (treujenn-gaol) had all but disappeared but has regained popularity over the past few years.

Modern Breton music

Nowadays groups with many different styles of music may be found, ranging from rock to jazz such as Red Cardell, ethno-rock, Diwall and Skeduz as well as punk. Some modern fest-noz groups also use electronic keyboards and synthesisers, for example Strobinell, Sonerien Du, Les Baragouineurs, and Plantec.

Breton cuisine

Breton cuisine contains many elements from the wider French culinary tradition. Local specialities include:

Symbols of Brittany

Traditional Breton symbols and/or symbols of Brittany include the national anthem Bro Gozh ma Zadoù based on the Welsh Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. The traditional motto of the former Dukes of Brittany is Kentoc'h mervel eget bezañ saotret in Breton, or Potius mori quam fœdari in Latin. The "national day" is observed on 1 August,[24] the Feast of Saint Erwann (Saint Yves). The ermine is an important symbol of Brittany reflected in the ancient blazons of the Duchy of Brittany and also in the chivalric order, L’Ordre de l’Hermine (The Order of the Ermine).

See also

Images of Brittany

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - Breton Brother and Sister (1871)

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Breton Brother and Sister

Gauguin - Bretonne

Paul Gauguin, Breton Girl

Hdrt1 (Large)

City hall of Rennes

Huelgoat Chaos mill

Huelgoat is the ancestral home of the Kerouac family

Bretagne Finistere Quimper 20072

City of Quimper


City of Saint-Malo


The bagad of Lann-Bihoué of the French Navy

Breton pipe player

Breton pipe player


  1. ^ Legal population of the administrative region of Brittany in 2007
  2. ^ Legal population of Loire-Atlantique in 2007


  1. ^ "Populations légales 2013 - Insee". Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  2. ^ "Insee − Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques - Insee". Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  3. ^ Rolland, Michel. "La Bretagne à Paris". Archived from the original on 2016-11-30. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  4. ^ "Ils sont 70 000 ! Notre dossier sur les Bretons du Havre". Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  5. ^ 2011 National Household Survey; includes 4,770 people of single and 9,525 of mixed Breton origin.
  6. ^ Ed. Wade Davis and K. David Harrison (2007). Book of Peoples of the World. National Geographic Society. p. 225. ISBN 978-1-4262-0238-4.
  7. ^ Minahan, James (2000). One Europe, Many Nations: A Historical Dictionary of European National Groups. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 179. ISBN 0313309841. The Cornish are related to the other Celtic peoples of Europe, the Bretons,* Irish,* Scots,* Manx,* Welsh,* and the Galicians* of northwestern Spain
  8. ^ Minahan, James (2000). One Europe, Many Nations: A Historical Dictionary of European National Groups. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 766. ISBN 0313309841. Celts, 257, 278, 523, 533, 555, 643; Bretons, 129-33; Cornish, 178-81; Gali- cians, 277-80; Irish, 330-37; Manx, 452-55; Scots, 607-12; Welsh
  9. ^ Koch, John (2005). Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABL-CIO. p. 275. ISBN 978-1-85109-440-0. Retrieved September 29, 2012.
  10. ^ "Breton". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-06-09.
  11. ^ "Breton Language". Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  12. ^ Léon Fleuriot, Les origines de la Bretagne: l’émigration, Paris, Payot, 1980.
  13. ^ Keats-Rohan 1991, The Bretons and Normans of England 1066-1154
  14. ^ "Marion Cotillard: 'Before my family, everything was dedicated to the character'". The Guardian. August 2, 2014.
  15. ^ Archived August 27, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "Yann Tiersen: ∞ (Infinity) & the Origin of Its Language". Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  17. ^ "Goarnig Kozh a livré son dernier combat". Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  18. ^ "Cinéma. Stallone est de Brest « même » !" (in French), Le Télégramme de Brest, October 6, 2009
  19. ^ Bretagne: poems (in French), by Amand Guérin, published by P. Masgana, 1842: page 238.
  20. ^ "Breton language". Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  21. ^ a b c "Breton language, alphabet and pronunciation". Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  22. ^ Archived May 9, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "Al Liamm - Degemer". Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  24. ^ Pierre Le Baud, Cronicques & Ystoires des Bretons.
  • Léon Fleuriot, Les origines de la Bretagne, Bibliothèque historique Payot, 1980, Paris, (ISBN 2-228-12711-6)
  • Christian Y. M. Kerboul, Les royaumes brittoniques au Très Haut Moyen Âge, Éditions du Pontig/Coop Breizh, Sautron – Spézet, 1997, (ISBN 2-84346-030-1)
  • Morvan Lebesque, Comment peut-on être Breton ? Essai sur la démocratie française, Éditions du Seuil, coll. « Points », Paris, 1983, (ISBN 2-02-006697-1)
  • Myles Dillon, Nora Kershaw Chadwick, Christian-J. Guyonvarc'h and Françoise Le Roux, Les Royaumes celtiques, Éditions Armeline, Crozon, 2001, (ISBN 2-910878-13-9).

External links – a non-profit association dedicated to the promotion of Brittany and the Breton language on the Internet

Alan (given name)

Alan is a masculine given name in the English language. There are numerous differing etymologies attributed to the name. The name was first introduced into England by Bretons who took part in the Norman Invasion in the 11th century. Today there are numerous variations of Alan, a short form, and there are also numerous feminine forms of the name as well. Alan has many forms in other languages. Alan is also an Old Breton personal name (from which the modern English Alan is ultimately derived), as well as being a Norman French name.

Asterix in Britain (film)

Asterix in Britain (French: Astérix chez les Bretons) is a Danish/French animated film released in 1986; the fifth Asterix feature film, and the last from Dargaud Films. It is based on the book of the same name. The theme song The Lookout is Out was performed by Cook da Books and was based on Plastic Bertrand's "Astérix est là" (the theme song from the previous film, Asterix Versus Caesar) but with a slower tempo, played with acoustic guitars and brand new English lyrics.

Battle of Déols

The Battle of Déols was a battle c. 469 when the Visigoths thwarted an attack by an alliance of Bretons or Britons of the Romano-British Riothamus and the Gauls.

Breton Americans

Breton Americans are Americans of Breton descent from Brittany.

Breton Canadians

Breton Canadians are Canadian citizens of Breton descent or a Brittany-born person who resides in Canada.

According to the 2016 Census, 11,845 Canadians claimed that they had full or partial Breton ancestry. However, the Amicale des Parents d'Émigrés d'Amérique du Nord (Association of Relatives of Emigrants to North America), an organisation headquartered in Gourin, Brittany, has estimated that around 45,000 Bretons immigrated to Canada between the years of 1870 and 1980 and that 8,000 Breton Canadians live or work in the Montreal area.

Breton Social-National Workers' Movement

The Breton Social-National Workers' Movement (French: Mouvement Ouvrier Social-National Breton) was a nationalist, separatist, and Fascist movement founded in 1941 by Théophile Jeusset. It emerged in Brittany from a deviationist faction of the Breton National Party; it disappeared the same year.

Its 25-point program was based on the principle of a "popular Breton state made for the people and by the people", integrated into a new European order, rejecting "Gaullism, the last redoubt of the Breton bourgeoisie" and resting on "the peasant class, the most numerous in Brittany", asserting "bread for Bretons, peace within Europe and freedom for Brittany", taking as given that it could count "not on England, nor France, nor Germany to acquire it", but only "through the power and confidence that one finds in the Breton people".

Having adopted for a flag a standard (designed by Olier Mordrel several years before) closely resembling a Nazi flag — black ermine at the center of a white circle on a red field representing "the blood of the worker" — Théophile Jeusset recruited several followers in the workshops and factories of Ille-et-Vilaine and organized about twenty meetings in the back rooms of restaurants in Rennes. Its founder renounced the dialectic, and embarked on direct action with a small group of Communist-separatists who it had joined his cause. He then took up a graffiti campaign directed against François Ripert (the préfet of Ille-et-Vilaine), and unleashed some of his comrades into the botanical garden of Rennes, to smash the statue of the "traitor" Bertrand du Guesclin.

Breton mythology

Breton mythology is the mythology or corpus of explanatory and heroic tales originating in Brittany. The Bretons are the descendants of insular Britons who settled in Brittany from at least the third century. While the Britons were already Christianised in this era, the migrant population maintained an ancient Celtic mythos, similar to those of Wales and Cornwall.

Breton mythology has many gods and mythical creatures specifically associated with nature cults. In this tradition of gods and creatures rooted in nature, there exist traces of certain Breton Catholic saints. This mythological background was accepted by Romans who were soon Christianized, resulting in the irrevocable loss of grand epics and the destruction or conversion of pagan landmarks and places.


Bugul Noz


Annard Noz


Morvan, legendary chief of the Viscounty of Léon



Brian (sometimes spelled Bryan in English) is a male given name of Irish and Breton origin, as well as a surname of Occitan origin. It is common in the English-speaking world. It is possible that the name is derived from an Old Celtic word meaning "high" or "noble". For example, the element bre means "hill"; which could be transferred to mean "eminence" or "exalted one". The name is quite popular in Ireland, on account of Brian Boru, a 10th-century High King of Ireland. The name was also quite popular in East Anglia during the Middle Ages. This is because the name was introduced to England by Bretons following the Norman Conquest. Bretons also settled in Ireland along with the Normans in the 12th century, and 'their' name was mingled with the 'Irish' version. Also, in the north-west of England, the 'Irish' name was introduced by Scandinavian settlers from Ireland. Within the Gaelic speaking areas of Scotland, the name was at first only used by professional families of Irish origin. It was the fourth most popular male name in England and Wales in 1934, but a sharp decline followed over the remainder of the 20th century and by 1994 it had fallen out of the top 100. It retained its popularity in the United States for longer; its most popular period there was from 1968–1979 when it consistently ranked between eighth and tenth. The name has become increasingly popular in South America - particularly Argentina and Uruguay since the early 1990s.

The surname Brian is sometimes an English and Irish variant spelling of the surname Bryan. The English and French surname Brian is sometimes derived from the personal Celtic personal name shown above. The surname Brian can also sometimes be a French surname; derived from the Old Occitan word brian, meaning "maggot" and used as a nickname.Variants of the name include Briant, Brien, Bran, Brion, Bryan, Bryant, Brjánn (in Icelandic) and Bryon. Variant spellings such as "Brien" are sometimes used as female given names, especially among members of the Irish diaspora.

Bro Gozh ma Zadoù

Bro Gozh ma Zadoù (English: Old Land of My Fathers) is the anthem of Brittany, sometimes presented as the "national anthem" although it has no official status. It is sung to the same tune as that of the national anthem of Wales, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, and has similar words. The Cornish anthem, Bro Goth Agan Tasow, is also sung to the same tune.

This anthem is played during major sporting events, as here at the final of the Coupe de France between the Stade Rennais F.C. and the En Avant de Guingamp

The Breton lyrics are the creation of François Jaffrennou in 1897, and the music was that composed by James James, of Pontypridd, Wales, for Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. The new song was first published in 1898, and circulated as Henvelidigez ("Adaptation"). It was chosen as national anthem (and a song to celebrate friendship between the Welsh and Bretons) in 1903, at a Congress of the Union Régionaliste Bretonne held in Lesneven. Maurice Duhamel adapted it for the piano, and it was first recorded by Pathé in 1910.

Celtic Britons

The Britons, also known as Celtic Britons or Ancient Britons, were Celtic people who inhabited Great Britain from the British Iron Age into the Middle Ages, at which point their culture and language diverged into the modern Welsh, Cornish and Bretons (among others). They spoke the Common Brittonic language, the ancestor to the modern Brittonic languages.The traditional view that the Celtic Britons originally migrated from the continent, mostly across the English Channel, with their languages, culture and genes in the Iron Age has been considerably undermined in recent decades by the contention of many scholars that Celtic languages had instead spread north along the Atlantic seaboard during the Bronze Age, and the results of genetic studies, which show a large continuity between Iron Age and older British populations, suggesting trans-cultural diffusion was also very important in the introduction of the Celtic languages.

The earliest evidence for the Britons and their language in historical sources dates to the Iron Age. After the Roman conquest of Britain in the 1st century, a Romano-British culture emerged, and Latin and British Vulgar Latin coexisted with Brittonic. During and after the Roman era, the Britons lived throughout Britain. Their relationship with the Picts, who lived north of the Firth of Forth, has been the subject of much discussion, though most scholars now accept that the Pictish language was related to Common Brittonic, rather than a separate Celtic language.With the beginning of Anglo-Saxon settlement and Gaelic Scots in the 5th and 6th centuries, the culture and language of the Britons fragmented, and much of their territory was gradually taken over by the Anglo-Saxons and Scots Gaels. The extent to which this cultural and linguistic change was accompanied by wholesale changes in the population is still a matter of discussion. During this period some Britons migrated to mainland Europe and established significant colonies in Brittany (now part of France), the Channel Islands as well as Britonia in modern Galicia, Spain. By the beginning of the 11th century, remaining Brittonic Celtic-speaking populations had split into distinct groups: the Welsh in Wales, the Cornish in Cornwall, the Bretons in Brittany, the Cumbric speaking people of the Hen Ogledd ("Old North") in southern Scotland and northern England, and the remnants of the Pictish people in the north of Scotland. Common Brittonic developed into the distinct Brittonic languages: Welsh, Cumbric, Cornish and Breton.

County of Nantes

The Counts of Nantes were originally the Frankish rulers of the Nantais under the Carolingians and eventually a capital city of the Duchy of Brittany. Their county served as a march against the Bretons of the Vannetais. Carologinian rulers would sometimes attack Brittany through the region of the Vannetais, making Nantes a strategic asset. In the mid-ninth century, the county finally fell to the Bretons and the title became a subsidiary title of the Breton rulers. The control of the title by the Breton Dukes figured prominently in the history of the Duchy. The title Count of Nantes was given to Hoel, a disinherited son of a Duke. He lost the Countship due to a popular uprising. That uprising presented an opportunity for King Henry II of England to attack the Breton Duke. In the treaty ending their conflicts, the Breton Duke awarded the Countship of Nantes to Henry II.


Erispoe (French: Erispoë; Latin: Herispoius, Herispogius, or Respogius; d. 2 or 12 November 857) was Duke of Brittany from 851. After the death of his father Nominoe, he led a successful military campaign against the Franks, culminating in his victory at the Battle of Jengland. He is subsequently referred to as "King of Brittany".

Erispoe's recorded titles include provinciæ Brittaniæ princeps ("prince of the province of Brittany"), dux Brittonum ("duke of the Bretons"), and rex tyrannicus Brittonum ("usurping king of the Bretons"). However, if Erispoe was usurping regality in Brittany at that time (857), it is not attested in other sources. It may imply continued Frankish resentment of the title. He is called rex Brittonum ("king of the Bretons") by Regino of Prüm (d. 915).

List of rulers of Brittany

This is a list of rulers of the Duchy of Brittany. In different epochs the sovereigns of Brittany were kings, princes, and dukes. The Breton ruler was sometimes elected, sometimes attained the position by conquest or intrigue, or by hereditary right. Hereditary dukes were sometimes a female ruler, carrying the title duchesse of Brittany. Its principal cities and regions were ruled by counts who often found themselves in conflict with the Breton ruler, or who became the Breton ruler.

During the declining years of the Roman Empire, the earliest Breton rulers in Gaul were styled "kings" of the small realms of Cornouaille and Domnonia. Some such kings may have had a form of hegemony over all of the Brythonic populations in the Armorican peninsula, and Riothamus is called King of the Britons by the chronicler Jordanes. However, there are no certain rulers of the whole of Brittany, which was divided into the fiefdoms of local counts.

The Duchy of Brittany had its origins in the Battle of Trans-la-Forêt of 939, which established the river Couesnon as the boundary between Brittany and Normandy. In 942, Alan II paid homage to Louis IV of France, however the duchy did not gain royal attention until 1123, when Louis VI of France confirmed the bishop of Nantes. No other Duke of Brittany repeated Alan II's homage until Arthur I recognised Philip II of France as his liege in 1202.The area was often called a Duchy, and its rulers were considered independent Sovereign Dukes. However one historical view is that before the middle of the 12th century the Dukes of Brittany were often also called Counts by the Kings of France, as the kingdom of France then saw Brittany as no more than a county. In 1297, the peninsula was elevated into a Duchy in the peerage of France. This view is not consistent with the manner in which Charles VIII of France and then Louis XII of France approached the Duchy and the rights of Anne of Brittany who married each in succession.


Morman (died 818) was a Breton chieftain who was declared King (rex) after the death of the Bretons' Frankish overlord Charlemagne in 814. He is the first personage known by name to be described as a Breton "king" and he probably ruled a warband with members drawn from throughout Brittany. He had a stronghold defended by ditches, hedges, and marshes.Morman had been a faithful follower of Charlemagne, having sworn oaths to him and performed the giving of hands, probably becoming his vassus, although the Bretons rose up in rebellion in 811. Morman's rebellion against Frankish lordship in 814 threatened the integrity of the empire recently inherited by Louis the Pious. While the Bretons may have contended that the elevation of Morman on the death of the incumbent Charlemagne was legitimate, the Frankish writers Astronomus and Ermold the Black viewed it as a usurpation. Louis sent Abbot Witchar to negotiate with Morman. According to Ermold, the abbot asked, "Do you not remember your sworn fealty, or your right hand to the Franks / often given, and to Charles the service you showed?" But after failing to bring Morman around to accepting Frankish rule, Louis prepared an army to invade Brittany.

In the spring of 818, the army, composed of forces from all the Carolingian regna (literally "kingdoms", but actually subkingdoms), assembled at Vannes, the westernmost point of sure Frankish control, and marched to Priziac in the far west of the county of the Vannetais on the bank of the Ellé. The Franks launched a series of attacks on various Breton fortresses and, after Morman was killed in battle, resistance collapsed. According to the Chronicle of Moissac, Louis returned with a "triumph of victory", although the Bretons revolted again in 822 under Wihomarc.

Mythology in France

The mythologies in present-day France encompass the mythology of the Gauls, Franks, Normans, Bretons, and other peoples living in France, those ancient stories about divine or heroic beings that these particular cultures believed to be true and that often use supernatural events or characters to explain the nature of the universe and humanity. French mythology is listed for each culture.


Roland (Frankish: "*Hrōþiland"; Latin: "Hruodlandus", "Rotholandus"; Italian: "Orlando", "Rolando"; died 15 August 778) was a Frankish military leader under Charlemagne who became one of the principal figures in the literary cycle known as the Matter of France. The historical Roland was military governor of the Breton March, responsible for defending Francia's frontier against the Bretons. His only historical attestation is in Einhard's Vita Karoli Magni, which notes he was part of the Frankish rearguard killed by rebellious Basques in Iberia at the Battle of Roncevaux Pass.

The story of Roland's death at Roncevaux Pass was embellished in later medieval and Renaissance literature. The first and most famous of these epic treatments was the Old French Chanson de Roland of the 11th century.

Two masterpieces of Italian Renaissance poetry, the Orlando Innamorato and Orlando Furioso (by Matteo Maria Boiardo and Ludovico Ariosto), are further detached from history than the earlier Chansons, similarly to the later Morgante by Luigi Pulci. Roland is poetically associated with his sword Durendal, his horse Veillantif, and his oliphant horn.

Saint Judicael

Saint Judicael or Judicaël (c. 590 – 16 or 17 December 658), also spelled Judhael (with many other variants), was the king of Domnonée and high king of the Bretons in the mid-7th century.

The Elder Scrolls

The Elder Scrolls is a series of action role-playing open world epic fantasy video games primarily developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. The series is known for its elaborate and richly detailed open worlds and its focus on free-form gameplay. Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim all won Game of the Year awards from multiple outlets. The series has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide.Within the fictional The Elder Scrolls universe, each game takes place on the continent of Tamriel. The setting is a mix of early or pre-medieval real-world elements, often revolving around a powerful Roman-like Empire in a world with very limited technological capabilities, and high fantasy elements, such as widespread magic use, travel between parallel worlds and the existence of many mythological creatures such as dragons. The continent is split into a number of provinces of which the inhabitants include humans as well as popular humanoid fantasy races such as elves, orcs and anthropomorphic animals. A common theme in the lore is that a chosen hero rises to defeat an incoming threat, usually a malevolent being or an antagonistic army.

Since debuting with Arena in 1994, the series has produced a total of five main games (of which the last three have each featured two or three expansions) as well as several spin-offs. In 2014, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, The Elder Scrolls Online, was released by Bethesda's affiliated ZeniMax subsidiary ZeniMax Online Studios.

Waroch II

Waroch (Breton: Gwereg) was an early Breton ruler of the Vannetais (Gwened). Waroch, or his grandfather Waroch I, gave his name to the traditional Breton province of Bro-Waroch ("land of Waroch"). However, it is possible that there were several successive local leaders with this name. He is called "Waroch II" to distinguish him from a hypothetical earlier ruler, Waroch I.

In 578, the Frankish king Chilperic I sent an army to fight Waroch along the Vilaine. The Frankish army consisted of units from Poitou, Touraine, Anjou, Maine and Bayeux. The Baiocassenses "men from Bayeux" were Saxons and they in particular were routed by the Bretons. The armies fought for three days before Waroch submitted, did homage for Vannes, sent his son as a hostage, and agreed to pay an annual tribute. He subsequently broke his oath, but Chilperic's dominion over the Bretons was relatively secure as evidenced by Venantius Fortunatus' celebration of it in a poem.

In 587, Guntram compelled obedience from Waroch. He forced the renewal of the oath of 578 in writing and demanded 1,000 solidi in compensation for raiding the Nantais. In 588 the compensation was not yet paid as Waroch promised it to both Guntram and Chlothar II, who probably had suzerainty over Vannes.

In 589 or 590, Guntram sent an expedition against Waroch under Beppolem and Ebrachain, mutual enemies. Ebrachain was also the enemy of Fredegund, queen consort to Chilperic, who sent the Saxons of Bayeux to aid Waroch. Beppolem fought alone for three days before dying, at which point Waroch tried to flee to the Channel Islands, but Ebrachain destroyed his ships and forced him to accept a peace, the renewal of the oath, and the giving up of a nephew as a hostage. This was all to no effect. The Bretons maintained their independent-mindedness.

Pan-Celtic groups

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