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Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a
peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The surrounding water is usually understood to be continuous, though ...

peninsula
and
cultural region 's map of native American cultural areas within the territory of the United States (1948) as defined by Melville J. Herskovits influence , homelands of the Celtic languages The Celtic languages ( , ) are a group of related languages ...
in the west of
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its extends from the to the and from the to the and the ; overseas territories include in , in the N ...

France
, covering the western part of what was known as
Armorica Armorica or Aremorica ( br, Arvorig, ) is the name given in ancient times to the part of Gaul between the Seine and the Loire that includes the Brittany Peninsula, extending inland to an indeterminate point and down the Atlantic Coast. Name ...

Armorica
during the period of Roman occupation. It became an independent kingdom and then a
duchy A duchy, also called a dukedom, is a , territory, , or domain ruled by a or , a high-ranking nobleman hierarchically second to the or in European tradition. The term is used almost exclusively in Europe. There once existed an important diffe ...
before being united with the
Kingdom of France The Kingdom of France ( fro, Reaume de France, frm, Royaulme de France, french: link=no, Royaume de France) was a medieval and early modern monarchy in Western Europe. It was among the most powerful states in Europe and a great power from the ...
in 1532 as a
province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are g ...

province
governed as a separate nation under the crown. Brittany has also been referred to as ''Less'', ''Lesser'' or ''Little'' Britain (as opposed to ''
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the List of European islands by area, largest European island, and the List of i ...

Great Britain
'', with which it shares an etymology). It is bordered by the
English Channel The English Channel,, "The Sleeve"; nrf, la Maunche, "The Sleeve" (Cotentinais Cotentinais is the dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in two ...

English Channel
to the north,
Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, ...

Normandy
to the northeast, eastern
Pays de la Loire In France, a ''pays'' () is an area whose inhabitants share common geographical, economic, cultural, or social interests, who have a right to enter into communal planning contracts under a law known as the Loi Pasqua or LOADT (''Loi d'Orientatio ...
to the southeast, the
Bay of Biscay The Bay of Biscay (; french: Golfe de Gascogne, es, Golfo de Vizcaya, eu, Bizkaiko Golkoa, oc, Golf de Gasconha, br, Pleg-mor Gwaskogn) is a gulf A gulf is a large inlet from the ocean into the landmass, typically with a narrower openin ...
to the south, and the
Celtic Sea The Celtic Sea ; cy, Y Môr Celtaidd ; kw, An Mor Keltek ; br, Ar Mor Keltiek ; french: La mer Celtique is the area of the Atlantic Ocean off the south coast of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island up ...
and the
Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
to the west. Its land area is 34,023 km2 . Brittany is the site of some of the world's oldest standing architecture, home to the
Barnenez
Barnenez
, the Tumulus Saint-Michel and others, which date to the early 5th millennium BC. Today, the historical province of Brittany is split among five French departments:
Finistère Finistère (, ; br, Penn-ar-Bed ) is a department of France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and O ...

Finistère
in the west,
Côtes-d'Armor The Côtes-d'Armor (, ; ; br, Aodoù-an-Arvor, ), formerly known as Côtes-du-Nord ( br, Aodoù-an-Hanternoz, link=no), are a department in the north of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gall ...
in the north,
Ille-et-Vilaine Ille-et-Vilaine (; br, Il-ha-Gwilen) is a departments of France, department of France, located in the regions of France, region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany in the northwest of the country. It is named after the two rivers of the ...
in the northeast,
Morbihan Morbihan (; ; br, Mor-Bihan, ) is a departments of France, department in the Regions of France, administrative region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany, situated in the northwest of France. It is named after the Gulf of Morbihan, Morbi ...

Morbihan
in the south and
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
in the southeast. At the 2010 census, the population of historic Brittany was estimated to be 4,475,295. Of these, 71% lived in the region of Brittany, while 29% lived in the Loire-Atlantique department. In 2017, the largest metropolitan areas were Nantes (972,828 inhabitants),
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
(733,320 inhabitants), and
Brest Brest may refer to: Places * Brest, Belarus, a city formerly known as Brest-Litovsk * Brest, Čučer-Sandevo, a village in North Macedonia * Brest, France, a city and harbour in Brittany * Brest, Germany, a municipality * Brest, Kyustendil Province ...
(321,364 inhabitants). Brittany is the traditional homeland of the
Breton people The Bretons ( br, Bretoned, ) are a native to . They trace much of their heritage to groups of speakers who emigrated from , particularly and , mostly during the . They migrated in waves from the 3rd to 9th century (most heavily from 450 to ...
and is one of the six
Celtic nations The Celtic nations are a cultural area 's map of native American cultural areas within the territory of the United States of America , United States (1948) as defined by Melville J. Herskovits influence , homelands of the Celtic language ...
, retaining a distinct
cultural identity Cultural identity is a part of a person's identity Identity may refer to: Social sciences * Identity (social science), personhood or group affiliation in psychology and sociology Group expression and affiliation * Cultural identity, a per ...
that reflects its
history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...
. A nationalist movement seeks greater autonomy within the French Republic.


Etymology

The word ''Brittany'', along with its
French
French
,
Breton Breton most often refers to: *anything associated with Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part ...
and Gallo equivalents ''Bretagne'', ''Breizh'' and ''Bertaèyn'', derive from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
''
Britannia Britannia () is the of as a helmeted female warrior holding a and shield. An image first used in , the ''Britannia'' was the name variously applied to the , , and the during the . Typically depicted reclining or seated with spear and shi ...

Britannia
'', which means "land of the
Britons The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed ...
". This word had been used by the
Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, ...

Romans
since the 1st century to refer to Great Britain, and more specifically the
Roman province of Britain Roman Britain is the period in classical antiquity when large parts of the island of Great Britain were under Roman conquest of Britain, occupation by the Roman Empire. The occupation lasted from AD 43 to AD 410. During that time, the ...

Roman province of Britain
. This word derives from a
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
word, Πρεττανικη (Prettanike) or Βρεττανίαι (Brettaniai), used by
Pytheas Pytheas of Massalia (; Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following pe ...
, an explorer from
Massalia Massalia (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10 ...

Massalia
who visited the
British Isles The British Isles are a in the North off the north-western coast of , consisting of the islands of , , the , the and over six thousand smaller islands."British Isles", ' They have a total area of and a combined population of almost 72&nb ...

British Isles
around 320 BC. The Greek word itself comes from the common Brythonic ethnonym reconstructed as ''*Pritanī'', itself from Proto-Celtic ''*kʷritanoi'' (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European ''*kʷer-'' 'to cut, make'). The Romans called Brittany ''
Armorica Armorica or Aremorica ( br, Arvorig, ) is the name given in ancient times to the part of Gaul between the Seine and the Loire that includes the Brittany Peninsula, extending inland to an indeterminate point and down the Atlantic Coast. Name ...

Armorica
''. It was a quite indefinite region that extended along the
English Channel The English Channel,, "The Sleeve"; nrf, la Maunche, "The Sleeve" (Cotentinais Cotentinais is the dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in two ...

English Channel
coast from the
Seine ) , mouth_location = Le Havre Le Havre (, ; nrf, Lé Hâvre) is an urban French Communes of France, commune and city in the Seine-Maritime Departments of France, department in the Normandy (administrative region), Normandy region of nor ...

Seine
estuary, then along the Atlantic coast to the
Loire The Loire (, also ; ; oc, Léger, ; la, Liger) is the longest river in France and the 171st longest in the world. With a length of , it drains , more than a fifth of France's land while its average discharge is only half that of the Rhône ...

Loire
estuary and, according to several sources, maybe to the
Garonne The Garonne (, also , ; Occitan language , Occitan, Catalan language , Catalan, Basque language, Basque, and es, Garona, ; la, Garumna or ) is a river of southwest France and northern Spain. It flows from the central Spanish Pyrenees to the G ...

Garonne
estuary. This term probably comes from a Gallic word, ''aremorica'', which means "close to the sea". Another name, ''Letauia'' (in English " Litavis"), was used until the 12th century. It possibly means "wide and flat" or "to expand" and it gave the
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
name for Brittany: ''Llydaw''. After the fall of the
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprises the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican ...

Western Roman Empire
, many Britons settled in western Armorica, and the region started to be called ''Britannia'', although this name only replaced ''Armorica'' in the sixth century or perhaps by the end of the fifth. Breton-speaking people may pronounce the word ''Breizh'' in two different ways, according to their region of origin. Breton can be divided into two main dialects: the ''KLT'' ( Kerne-Leon- Tregor) and the dialect of
Vannes Vannes (; br, Gwened) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is w ...

Vannes
. KLT speakers pronounce it and would write it ''Breiz'', while the Vannetais speakers pronounce it and would write it ''Breih''. The official spelling is a compromise between both variants, with a ''z'' and an ''h'' together. In 1941, efforts to unify the dialects led to the creation of the so-called ''Breton zh'', a standard which has never been widely accepted. On its side, Gallo has never had a widely accepted writing system and several ones coexist. For instance, the name of the region in that language can be written ''Bertaèyn'' in ''ELG'' script, or ''Bertègn'' in ''MOGA'', and a couple of other scripts also exist.


History


Prehistoric origins

Brittany has been inhabited by humans since the
Lower Palaeolithic 250px, Four views of an Acheulean handaxe The Lower Paleolithic (or Lower Palaeolithic) is the earliest subdivision of the Paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age, is a period in human pr ...

Lower Palaeolithic
. The first settlers were
Neanderthal Neanderthals (, also Neandertals, ''Homo neanderthalensis'' or ''Homo sapiens neanderthalensis'') are an extinct species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, phys ...
s. This population was scarce and very similar to the other Neanderthals found in the whole of Western Europe. Their only original feature was a distinct culture, called "Colombanian". One of the oldest
hearth A hearth is the place in a where a is or was traditionally kept for home heating and for , usually constituted by at least a horizontal hearthstone and often enclosed to varying degrees by any combination of , , , smoke hood, or . Hearths a ...

hearth
s in the world has been found in Plouhinec, Finistère. It is 450,000 years old.
Homo sapiens Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread of , characterized by and large, complex brains. This has enabled the development of advanced , , and . Humans are highly social and tend to live in complex s composed of many ...

Homo sapiens
settled in Brittany around 35,000 years ago. They replaced or absorbed the Neanderthals and developed local industries, similar to the
Châtelperronian The Châtelperronian is a proposed industry Industry may refer to: Economics * Industry (economics) In macroeconomics, an industry is a branch of an economy that produces a closely related set of raw materials, goods, or services. For e ...
or to the
Magdalenian The Magdalenian cultures (also Madelenian; French language, French: ''Magdalénien'') are later archaeological culture, cultures of the Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic in western Europe. They date from around 17,000 to 12,000 years ago. It is ...
. After the last glacial period, the warmer climate allowed the area to become heavily wooded. At that time, Brittany was populated by relatively large communities who started to change their lifestyles from a life of hunting and gathering, to become settled farmers. Agriculture was introduced during the 5th millennium BC by migrants from the south and east. However, the
Neolithic Revolution The Neolithic Revolution, or the (First) Agricultural Revolution, was the wide-scale transition of many human culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior Behavior (Ameri ...
in Brittany did not happen due to a radical change of population, but by slow immigration and exchange of skills. Neolithic Brittany is characterised by important megalithic production and sites such as Quelfénnec, it is sometimes designated as the "core area" of megalithic culture. The oldest monuments,
cairn A cairn is a man-made pile (or stack) of stones. The word ''cairn'' comes from the gd, càrn (plural ). Cairns have been and are used for a broad variety of purposes, from prehistoric times to the present. In modern times, cairns are often ...

cairn
s, were followed by princely tombs and
stone row A stone row or stone alignment is a linear arrangement of upright, parallel megalith A megalith is a large pre-historic stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. There are over 3 ...
s. The
Morbihan Morbihan (; ; br, Mor-Bihan, ) is a departments of France, department in the Regions of France, administrative region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany, situated in the northwest of France. It is named after the Gulf of Morbihan, Morbi ...

Morbihan
''
département In the administrative divisions of France, the department (french: département, ) is one of the three levels of government under the national level ("territorial collectivity, territorial collectivities"), between the regions of France, admini ...

département
'', on the southern coast, comprises a large share of these structures, including the
Carnac stones The Carnac stones (Breton language, Breton: ''Steudadoù Karnag'') are an exceptionally dense collection of megalithic sites near the south coast of Brittany in northwestern France, consisting of stone alignments (rows), dolmens (stone tombs), t ...
and the Broken Menhir of Er Grah in the
Locmariaquer megaliths The Locmariaquer megaliths are a complex of Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the world. It is first seen ...
, the largest single stone erected by Neolithic people.


Gallic era

During the protohistorical period, Brittany was inhabited by five Celtic tribes: * The
Curiosolitae The Coriosolites or Curiosolitae were a Gauls, Gallic people dwelling on the northern coast of present-day Brittany during the La Tène culture, Iron Age and the Roman period. Name They are mentioned as ''Coriosolitas'' (var. ''coriosolitos'', ...
, who lived around the present town of Corseul. Their territory encompassed parts of
Côtes-d'Armor The Côtes-d'Armor (, ; ; br, Aodoù-an-Arvor, ), formerly known as Côtes-du-Nord ( br, Aodoù-an-Hanternoz, link=no), are a department in the north of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gall ...
, Ille-et-Vilaine and
Morbihan Morbihan (; ; br, Mor-Bihan, ) is a departments of France, department in the Regions of France, administrative region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany, situated in the northwest of France. It is named after the Gulf of Morbihan, Morbi ...

Morbihan
''
département In the administrative divisions of France, the department (french: département, ) is one of the three levels of government under the national level ("territorial collectivity, territorial collectivities"), between the regions of France, admini ...

département
s''. * The
Namnetes The Namnetes were a Gallic tribe dwelling near the modern city of Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the ...

Namnetes
, who lived in the current
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
''
département In the administrative divisions of France, the department (french: département, ) is one of the three levels of government under the national level ("territorial collectivity, territorial collectivities"), between the regions of France, admini ...

département
'' (in today's administrative ''région'' of
Pays de la Loire In France, a ''pays'' () is an area whose inhabitants share common geographical, economic, cultural, or social interests, who have a right to enter into communal planning contracts under a law known as the Loi Pasqua or LOADT (''Loi d'Orientatio ...
), north of the
Loire The Loire (, also ; ; oc, Léger, ; la, Liger) is the longest river in France and the 171st longest in the world. With a length of , it drains , more than a fifth of France's land while its average discharge is only half that of the Rhône ...
. They gave their name to the city of
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
. The south bank of the river was occupied by an allied tribe, the Ambilatres, whose existence and territory remain unsure. * The
Osismii The Osismii, Ossismii, or Ostimii (also Ossismi, Osismi) were a Gallic tribe dwelling in the western part of the Armorican Peninsula (modern Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn ...
, who lived in the western part of Brittany. Their territory comprised the
Finistère Finistère (, ; br, Penn-ar-Bed ) is a department of France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and O ...

Finistère
''
département In the administrative divisions of France, the department (french: département, ) is one of the three levels of government under the national level ("territorial collectivity, territorial collectivities"), between the regions of France, admini ...

département
'' and the western extremity of
Côtes-d'Armor The Côtes-d'Armor (, ; ; br, Aodoù-an-Arvor, ), formerly known as Côtes-du-Nord ( br, Aodoù-an-Hanternoz, link=no), are a department in the north of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gall ...
and
Morbihan Morbihan (; ; br, Mor-Bihan, ) is a departments of France, department in the Regions of France, administrative region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany, situated in the northwest of France. It is named after the Gulf of Morbihan, Morbi ...

Morbihan
. * The
Redones The Redones or Riedones (Gaulish Gaulish was an ancient Celtic language that was spoken in parts of Continental Europe Mainland or continental Europe is the contiguous continent of Europe, excluding its surrounding islands. It can al ...
(or ''Rhedones''), who lived in the eastern part of the
Ille-et-Vilaine Ille-et-Vilaine (; br, Il-ha-Gwilen) is a departments of France, department of France, located in the regions of France, region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany in the northwest of the country. It is named after the two rivers of the ...
''
département In the administrative divisions of France, the department (french: département, ) is one of the three levels of government under the national level ("territorial collectivity, territorial collectivities"), between the regions of France, admini ...

département
''. They gave their name to the city of
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
(''Roazhon'' in Breton language, in the center of the département) and to the town of
Redon Redon (; ) is a Communes of France, commune in the Ille-et-Vilaine Departments of France, department in Brittany (administrative region), Brittany in northwestern France. It is a Subprefectures in France, sub-prefecture of the department. Geograp ...
(in the south of the ''département'', bordering the ''département'' of
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
in the administrative ''région'' of
Pays de la Loire In France, a ''pays'' () is an area whose inhabitants share common geographical, economic, cultural, or social interests, who have a right to enter into communal planning contracts under a law known as the Loi Pasqua or LOADT (''Loi d'Orientatio ...
, where its suburb town of Saint-Nicolas-de-Redon is located; however the city of Redon was founded around AD 832 under the initial name of ''Riedones'', long after the ''Redones'' people were assimilated to Bretons; the cultural link between ''Riedones'' and the former ''Redones'' people is highly probable but difficult to recover and the name of ''Riedones'' may have been written from a local usage preserving the name of the former people in the vernacular oral language from a reading of an ancient Greek orthography). * The Veneti, who lived in the present
Morbihan Morbihan (; ; br, Mor-Bihan, ) is a departments of France, department in the Regions of France, administrative region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany, situated in the northwest of France. It is named after the Gulf of Morbihan, Morbi ...

Morbihan
''
département In the administrative divisions of France, the department (french: département, ) is one of the three levels of government under the national level ("territorial collectivity, territorial collectivities"), between the regions of France, admini ...

département
'' and gave their name to the city of
Vannes Vannes (; br, Gwened) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is w ...

Vannes
. Despite confusion by the classical scholar
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
, they were unrelated to the
Adriatic Veneti The Veneti (in Latin, also ''Heneti'') were an Proto-Indo-Europeans, Indo-European people who inhabited northeastern Italy, in an area corresponding to the modern-day region of Veneto.
. Those people had strong economic ties to the
Insular Celts The Insular Celts are the speakers of the Insular Celtic languages Insular Celtic languages are the group of Celtic languages The Celtic languages ( , ) are a group of related languages descended from Proto-Celtic. They form a branch ...
, especially for the
tin Tin is a with the Sn (from la, ) and  50. Tin is a silvery-colored metal that characteristically has a faint yellow hue. Tin is soft enough to be cut with little force and a bar of tin can be bent by hand with little effort. When bent ...

tin
trade . Several tribes also belonged to an "Armorican
confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty, confederations of states tend to be established for dealing with critical issu ...
" which, according to
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
, gathered the
Curiosolitae The Coriosolites or Curiosolitae were a Gauls, Gallic people dwelling on the northern coast of present-day Brittany during the La Tène culture, Iron Age and the Roman period. Name They are mentioned as ''Coriosolitas'' (var. ''coriosolitos'', ...
, the
Redones The Redones or Riedones (Gaulish Gaulish was an ancient Celtic language that was spoken in parts of Continental Europe Mainland or continental Europe is the contiguous continent of Europe, excluding its surrounding islands. It can al ...
, the
Osismii The Osismii, Ossismii, or Ostimii (also Ossismi, Osismi) were a Gallic tribe dwelling in the western part of the Armorican Peninsula (modern Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn ...
, the
Unelli The Venelli or Unelli (Gaulish Gaulish was an ancient Celtic language that was spoken in parts of Continental Europe Mainland or continental Europe is the contiguous continent of Europe, excluding its surrounding islands. It can also b ...
, the
Caletes The Caletes or Caleti (Gaulish language, Gaulish: "the hard tubborn, toughones"; la, italic=yes, Calētēs or ''Calētī'') were a Belgae, Belgic or Gauls, Gallic tribe dwelling in Pays de Caux, in present-day Normandy, during the La Tène cult ...
, the
Lemovices The Lemovices (Gaulish Gaulish was an ancient Celtic language that was spoken in parts of Continental Europe Mainland or continental Europe is the contiguous continent of Europe, excluding its surrounding islands. It can also be referr ...
and the Ambibarii. The last four peoples mentioned by Caesar were respectively located in
Cotentin The Cotentin Peninsula (, ; nrf, Cotentîn ), also known as the Cherbourg Peninsula, is a peninsula in Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( o ...

Cotentin
(Lower-Normandy),
pays de Caux The Pays de Caux (, , literally ''Lands of Caux'') is an area in Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo- ...
(Upper-Normandy),
Limousin Limousin (; oc, Lemosin ) is a former administrative region Administration may refer to: Management of organizations * Management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization, whether it is a business, a not-for-pr ...

Limousin
(Aquitany) and the location of the Ambibarii is unknown. The Caletes are sometimes also considered as Belgians and ″Lemovices″ is probably a mistake for ″
Lexovii The Lexovii (Gaulish: *''Lexsouioi'', 'the leaning, lame'), were a Gauls, Gallic tribe dwelling immediately west of the mouth of the Seine, around present-day Lisieux, during the La Tène culture, Iron Age and the Roman period. Name They are ment ...
″ (Lower-Normandy).


Gallo-Roman era

The region became part of the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
in 51 BC. It was included in the province of
Gallia Lugdunensis Gallia Lugdunensis (French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily locat ...
in 13 BC. Gallic towns and villages were redeveloped according to Roman standards, and several cities were created. These cities are Condate (
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
), Vorgium (
Carhaix Carhaix-Plouguer (; br, Karaez-Plougêr) is a Communes of France, commune in the Finistère Departments of France, department in western Brittany, France. Geography Carhaix is located in the Poher, an important territory of Brittany, sandwiched ...

Carhaix
), Darioritum (
Vannes Vannes (; br, Gwened) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is w ...

Vannes
) and Condevincum or Condevicnum (
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
). Together with Fanum Martis ( Corseul), they were the capitals of the local
civitates In the history of Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map ...
. They all had a
grid plan In urban planning Urban planning, also known as regional planning, town planning, city planning, or rural planning, is a technical and political process that is focused on the development and design of land use and the built environment, ...
and a
forum Forum (plural forums or fora) may refer to: Common uses * Forum (legal), designated space for public expression in the United States *Forum (Roman), open public space within a Roman city **Roman Forum, most famous example *Internet forum, discus ...
, and sometimes a temple, a
basilica In Ancient Roman architecture, a basilica is a large public building with multiple functions, typically built alongside the town's Forum (Roman), forum. The basilica was in the Latin West equivalent to a stoa in the Greek East. The building ...

basilica
,
thermae , Budapest File:Les mosaïques des thermes 2.JPG, The mosaics of the thermal baths In ancient Rome, (from Greek , "hot") and (from Greek ) were facilities for bathing. usually refers to the large Roman Empire, imperial public bath, bath ...
or an
aqueduct Aqueduct may refer to: Bridges *Aqueduct (bridge), a bridge to convey water over an obstacle, such as a ravine or valley *Navigable aqueduct, or water bridge, a structure to carry navigable waterway canals over other rivers, valleys, railways or r ...
, like
Carhaix Carhaix-Plouguer (; br, Karaez-Plougêr) is a Communes of France, commune in the Finistère Departments of France, department in western Brittany, France. Geography Carhaix is located in the Poher, an important territory of Brittany, sandwiched ...

Carhaix
. The Romans also built three major roads through the region. However, most of the population remained rural. The free peasants lived in small huts, whereas the landowners and their employees lived in proper . The Gallic deities continued to be worshiped, and were often assimilated to the Roman gods. Only a small number of statues depicting Roman gods were found in Brittany, and most of the time they combine Celtic elements. During the 3rd century AD, the region was attacked several times by
Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the and the , on the edge of the . Later the term was associated with Germanic dynasties within the ...

Franks
,
Alamanni The Alemanni (also ''Alamanni''; ''Suebi'' "Swabians") were a confederation of Germanic peoples, Germanic tribes * * * on the Upper Rhine River. First mentioned by Cassius Dio in the context of the campaign of Caracalla of 213, the Alemanni captu ...
and pirates. At the same time, the local economy collapsed and many farming estates were abandoned. To face the invasions, many towns and cities were fortified, like
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
,
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
and
Vannes Vannes (; br, Gwened) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is w ...

Vannes
.


Immigration of Britons

Toward the end of the 4th century, the
Britons The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed ...
of what is now Wales and the South-Western peninsula of Great Britain began to emigrate to
Armorica Armorica or Aremorica ( br, Arvorig, ) is the name given in ancient times to the part of Gaul between the Seine and the Loire that includes the Brittany Peninsula, extending inland to an indeterminate point and down the Atlantic Coast. Name ...

Armorica
.


The Romano-Britons

The history behind such an establishment is unclear, but medieval Breton, Angevin and Welsh sources connect it to a figure known as
Conan Meriadoc Conan Meriadoc (; Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagoni ...
. Welsh literary sources assert that Conan came to Armorica on the orders of the Roman usurper
Magnus Maximus Magnus Maximus (; cy, Macsen Wledig ; 28 August 388) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout history. ...
, who sent some of his British troops to Gaul to enforce his claims and settled them in Armorica. This account was supported by the Counts of Anjou, who claimed descent from a Roman soldier expelled from Lower Brittany by Conan on Magnus's orders.


The Refugee-Britons

Regardless of the truth of this story, Brythonic (British Celtic) settlement probably increased during the
Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain The Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain is the process which changed the language and culture of most of what became England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders ...
in the 5th and 6th centuries. Scholars such as Léon Fleuriot have suggested a two-wave model of migration from Britain which saw the emergence of an independent Breton people and established the dominance of the Brythonic
Breton language Breton (; ; or in Morbihan Morbihan (; ; br, Mor-Bihan, ) is a departments of France, department in the Regions of France, administrative region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany, situated in the northwest of France. It is name ...
in Armorica. Their
petty kingdom A petty kingdom is a kingdom Kingdom may refer to: Monarchy * A type of monarchy * A realm ruled by: **A king, during the reign of a male monarch **A queen regnant, during the reign of a female monarch Taxonomy * Kingdom (biology), a category i ...
s are now known by the names of the counties that succeeded them—
Domnonée Domnonée is the French language, modern French form of Domnonia or Dumnonia (Latin for "Devon"; br, Domnonea), an historic kingdom in northern Armorica (Brittany) founded by Britons (Celtic people), British immigrants from Dumnonia (Sub-Roman Bri ...
(
Devon Devon (, archaically known as Devonshire) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Ch ...

Devon
),
Cornouaille 200px, Flag of Cornouaille Cornouaille (; br, Kernev, Kerne) is a historic region on the west coast of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural ...
(
Cornwall Cornwall (; kw, Kernow ) is a Historic counties of England, historic county and Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in South West England. It is recognised as one of the Celtic nations, and is the homeland of the Cornish people ...

Cornwall
), Léon (
Caerleon Caerleon (; cy, Caerllion) is a town and community on the River Usk The River Usk (; cy, Afon Wysg) River source, rises on the northern slopes of the Black Mountain (range), Black Mountain (''y Mynydd Du''), Wales, in the westernmost par ...

Caerleon
); but these names in Breton and
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
are in most cases identical to their British homelands. (In Breton and French, however,
Gwened Vannes (; br, Gwened) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is w ...
or Vannetais continued the name of the indigenous Veneti.) Although the details remain confused, these colonies consisted of related and intermarried dynasties which repeatedly unified (as by the 7th-century Saint Judicaël) before splintering again according to Celtic inheritance practices.


Resistance

The area was finally consolidated in the 840s under
Nominoe ''Nominoe's Vow'', a Victorian illustration to a ballad about Nominoe in Barzaz Breiz in which he vows vengeance on the Franks for killing a Breton emissary Nominoe or Nomenoe (french: Nominoë; br, Nevenoe; c. 800,  7 March 851) was t ...

Nominoe
in resistance to
Frank Frank may refer to: People As a name * Frank (given name) * Frank (surname) Groups of people * A member of the medieval Germanic people, the Franks * Crusaders in medieval Middle Eastern history * Levantines (Latin Christians) known as Franco ...

Frank
ish control. Among the immigrant Britons, there were some clergymen who helped the
evangelisation The Four Evangelists In Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It i ...
of the region, which was still pagan, particularly in rural areas.


Battle of the Catalaunian Plains

The army recruited for
Flavius Aetius Flavius Aetius (spelled also Aëtius; ; c. 391 – 454) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened t ...
to combat
Attila the Hun Attila (; ), frequently called Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in March 453. He was also the leader of a tribal empire consisting of Huns, Ostrogoths, Alans and Bulgars, among others, in Central Europe, Ce ...
at the
Battle of the Catalaunian Plains The Battle of the Catalaunian Plains (or Fields), also called the Battle of the Campus Mauriacus, Battle of Châlons, Battle of Troyes or the Battle of Maurica, took place on June 20, 451 AD, between a coalition led by the Roman Roman or Ro ...
included Romans, Visigoths, Franks, Alans and Armoricans, amongst others. The Alans were placed front and centre, opposite the Huns. The Armoricans supplied archers who attacked the Huns' front lines during the main battle and thwarted Attila's night assault on the Roman camp with a hail of arrows "like rain". After the battle was won, Aetius sent the Alans to Armorica and Galicia.


Riothamus

The late 5th century Brittonic leader
Riothamus Riothamus (also spelled Riutimus or Riotimus) was a Romano-British military leader, who was active circa AD 470. He fought against the Goths in alliance with the declining Western Roman Empire. He is called "King of the Britons" by the 6th-century ...
received correspondence from the eminent Roman jurist
Sidonius Apollinaris Gaius Sollius Modestus Apollinaris Sidonius, better known as Sidonius Apollinaris (5 November of an unknown year, 430 – 481/490 AD), was a poet A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as ...

Sidonius Apollinaris
and was called "King of the Britons" by
Jordanes Jordanes (), also written as Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th-century bureaucrat widely believed to be of who became a historian later in life. Late in life he wrote two works, one on Roman history and the other on the Goths. The latter, alon ...
. Some suggest that he was a Breton, though others believe that he was from Britain, pointing to the passage that he arrived in the land of the Biturges "by way of Ocean", which would hardly have been efficient or required for a Breton. Both historians describe Riothamus's losing battle against King
Euric Euric (Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes **Gothic language, an extinct East Germanic language spoken by the Goths **Crimean Gothic, the Gothic l ...
of the Visigoths at
Déols Déols is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs to or wit ...
around the year 470. In response to a plea from the Roman Emperor
Anthemius Procopius Anthemius (; – 11 July 472) was western Roman emperor from 467 to 472. Perhaps the last capable Western Roman Emperor, Anthemius attempted to solve the two primary military challenges facing the remains of the Western Roman Empire ...

Anthemius
, Riothamus had led twelve thousand men to establish a military presence in
Bourges Bourges () is a commune in central France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and Overseas France, seve ...

Bourges
in central Gaul, but was betrayed by
Arvandus Arvandus was a Gaul who rose through the hierarchy of Imperial Roman society to twice be appointed Praetorian prefect of Gaul. On the first occasion, 461, he was appointed by Emperor Libius Severus. This appointment ended when Severus died in ...
, the Praetorian Prefect of Gaul, and subsequently ambushed by Euric's army. After a long battle, the Armorican survivors escaped to Avallon in Burgundy, after which they are lost to history. According to Breton king-lists, Riotham survived and reigned as Prince of Domnonia until his death sometime between 500 and 520, though this may have been a different person.


Middle Ages


The Kingdom of Brittany

At the beginning of the medieval era, Brittany was divided among three kingdoms, Domnonée, Domnonea,
Cornouaille 200px, Flag of Cornouaille Cornouaille (; br, Kernev, Kerne) is a historic region on the west coast of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural ...
and Broërec. These realms eventually merged into a single state during the 9th century. The unification of Brittany was carried out by
Nominoe ''Nominoe's Vow'', a Victorian illustration to a ballad about Nominoe in Barzaz Breiz in which he vows vengeance on the Franks for killing a Breton emissary Nominoe or Nomenoe (french: Nominoë; br, Nevenoe; c. 800,  7 March 851) was t ...

Nominoe
, king between 845 and 851 and considered as the Breton ''Pater Patriae''. His son Erispoe secured the independence of the new kingdom of Brittany and won the Battle of Jengland against Charles the Bald. The Bretons won another war in 867, and the kingdom reached then its maximum extent: It received parts of
Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, ...

Normandy
, Maine (province of France), Maine and Anjou and the Channel Islands.


Viking occupation

Brittany was heavily attacked by the Vikings at the beginning of the 10th century. The kingdom lost its eastern territories, including
Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, ...

Normandy
and Anjou, and the county of
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
was given to Fulk I, Count of Anjou, Fulk I of Anjou in 909. However, Nantes was seized by the Vikings in 914.


The Duchy of Brittany

Nantes was eventually liberated by Alan II, Duke of Brittany, Alan II of Brittany in 937 with the support of his god-brother King Æthelstan of England. Alan II totally expelled the Vikings from Brittany and recreated a strong Breton state. For aiding in removing the problem, Alan paid homage to Louis IV of France (who was Æthelstan's nephew and had returned from England in the same year as Alan II) and thus Brittany ceased to be a kingdom and became a duchy.


Norman allies

Several Breton lords helped William the Conqueror to invade England and received large estates there (e.g. William's double-second cousin Alan Rufus and the latter's brother Brian of Brittany). Some of these lords were powerful rivals.


Internal disputes

Medieval Brittany was far from being a united nation. The French king maintained envoys in Brittany, alliances contracted by local lords often overlapped and there was no specific Breton unity. For example, Brittany replaced
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
with French as its official language in the 13th century, 300 years before France did so, and the
Breton language Breton (; ; or in Morbihan Morbihan (; ; br, Mor-Bihan, ) is a departments of France, department in the Regions of France, administrative region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany, situated in the northwest of France. It is name ...
didn't have formal status. The foreign policy of the Duchy changed many times; the Dukes were usually independent, but they often contracted alliances with England or France depending on who was threatening them at that point. Their support for each nation became very important during the 14th century because the English kings had started to claim the French throne. The Breton War of Succession, a local episode of the Hundred Years' War, saw the House of Blois, backed by the French, fighting with the House of Montfort of Brittany, Montfort, backed by the English. The Montforts won in 1364 and enjoyed a period of total independence until the end of the Hundred Years' War, because France was weakened and stopped sending royal envoys to the Court of Brittany. English diplomatic failures led to the Breton cavalry commanders Arthur, Comte de Richemont (later to become Arthur III, Duke of Brittany) and his nephew Peter II, Duke of Brittany playing key roles on the French side during the deciding stages of the war (including the battles of Battle of Patay, Patay, Battle of Formigny, Formigny and Battle of Castillon, Castillon and the Treaty of Arras (1435), Treaty of Arras). Brittany importantly lost the Mad War against France in 1488, mostly because of its internal divisions that were exacerbated by the corruption at the court of Francis II, Duke of Brittany. Indeed, some rebel Breton lords were fighting on the French side.


Union with the French Crown and modern period

As a result of the Mad War, the Duke Francis II of Brittany, Francis II could not have his daughter Anne of Brittany, Anne married without the king of France's consent. Nonetheless, she married the Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, Holy Roman Emperor in 1490, leading to a crisis with France. Charles VIII of France besieged
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
and had the marriage cancelled. He eventually married Anne of Brittany. After he died childless, the duchess had to marry his heir and cousin Louis XII of France, Louis XII. Anne unsuccessfully tried to preserve Breton independence, but she died in 1514, and the union between the two crowns was formally carried out by Francis I of France, Francis I in 1532. He granted several privileges to Brittany, such as exemption from the gabelle, a tax on salt that was very unpopular in France. Under the Ancien Régime, Brittany and France were governed as separate countries but under the same crown, so Breton aristocrats in the French Court (royal), royal court were classed as Prince étranger, Princes étrangers (foreign princes). From the 15th to the 18th century, Brittany reached an economic golden age. The region was located on the seaways near Spain, England and the Netherlands and it greatly benefited from the creation of a French colonial empire. Local seaports like
Brest Brest may refer to: Places * Brest, Belarus, a city formerly known as Brest-Litovsk * Brest, Čučer-Sandevo, a village in North Macedonia * Brest, France, a city and harbour in Brittany * Brest, Germany, a municipality * Brest, Kyustendil Province ...
and Saint-Brieuc quickly expanded, and Lorient, first spelled "L'Orient", was founded in the 17th century. Saint-Malo then was known for its French corsairs, corsairs, Brest was a major base for the French Navy and
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
flourished with the Atlantic slave trade. On its side, the inland provided hemp ropes and canvas and linen sheets. However, Colbertism, which encouraged the creation of many factories, did not favour the Breton industry because most of the royal factories were opened in other provinces. Moreover, several conflicts between France and England led the latter to restrain its trade, and the Breton economy went into recession during the 18th century.


The Centralisation Problem

Two significant revolts occurred in the 17th and 18th centuries: the Revolt of the papier timbré (1675) and the Pontcallec conspiracy (1719). Both arose from attempts to resist centralisation and assert Breton constitutional exceptions to tax.


Breton Exodus

Many Bretons crossed the Atlantic to support the American Revolutionary War, American War of Independence. These included many sailors such as Armand de Kersaint and soldiers such as Charles Armand Tuffin, marquis de la Rouërie.


Since 1789

The Duchy was legally abolished during the French Revolution, in 1789, and divided into five Departments of France, departments. Brittany also lost all its privileges. Three years later, the area became a centre of royalist and Catholic resistance to the Revolution during the Chouannerie. During the 19th century, Brittany remained in economic recession, and many Bretons emigrated to other French regions, particularly to Paris. This trend remained strong until the beginning of the 20th century. Nonetheless, the region was also modernising, with new roads and railways being built, and some places being industrialised.
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
specialised in shipbuilding and food processing (sugar, exotic fruits and vegetables, fish...), Fougères in glass and shoe production, and metallurgy was practised in small towns such as Châteaubriant and Inzinzac-Lochrist, Lochrist, known for its labour movements. The region remained deeply Catholic, and during the Second French Empire, Second Empire, the conservative values were strongly reasserted. When the Republic was re-established in 1871, there were rumours that Breton troops were mistrusted and mistreated at Camp Conlie during the Franco-Prussian War because of fears that they were a threat to the Republic. During the 19th century, the
Breton language Breton (; ; or in Morbihan Morbihan (; ; br, Mor-Bihan, ) is a departments of France, department in the Regions of France, administrative region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany, situated in the northwest of France. It is name ...
started to decline precipitously, mainly because of the Francization policy conducted under the Third French Republic, Third Republic. On one hand, children Vergonha, were not allowed to speak Breton at school, and were punished by teachers if they did. Famously, signs in schools read: "It is forbidden to speak Breton and to spit on the floor" ("Il est interdit de parler Breton et de cracher par terre"). At the same time, the Celtic Revival led to the foundation of the Breton Regionalist Union (URB) and later to independence movements linked to Irish, Welsh, and Scottish independence parties in the UK, and to pan-Celticism. However, the audience of these movements remained very low and their ideas did not reach a large public until the 20th century. The Seiz Breur movement, created in 1923, permitted a Breton artistic revival but its ties with Nazism and the collaborationism of the Breton National Party during World War II weakened Breton nationalism in the post-war period. Brittany lost 240,000 men during the First World War. The Second World War was also catastrophic for the region. It was invaded by Nazi Germany in 1940 and freed after Operation Cobra in August 1944. However, the areas around Saint-Nazaire and Lorient only surrendered on 10 and 11 May 1945, several days after the German capitulation. The two port towns had been virtually destroyed by Allied air raids, like
Brest Brest may refer to: Places * Brest, Belarus, a city formerly known as Brest-Litovsk * Brest, Čučer-Sandevo, a village in North Macedonia * Brest, France, a city and harbour in Brittany * Brest, Germany, a municipality * Brest, Kyustendil Province ...
and Saint-Malo, and other towns, such as
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
and
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
, had also suffered. In 1956, Brittany was legally reconstituted as the Brittany (administrative region), Region of Brittany, although the region excluded the ducal capital of
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
and the Loire-Atlantique, surrounding area. Nevertheless, Brittany retained its cultural distinctiveness, and a new cultural revival emerged during the 1960s and 1970s. Bilingual schools were opened, singers started to write songs in Breton, and ecological catastrophes such as the Amoco Cadiz oil spill or the MV Erika, Erika oil spill and water pollution because of intensive pig farming favoured new movements to protect the natural heritage.


Government and politics


Traditional subdivisions

Brittany as a political entity disappeared in 1790, when it was divided into five
département In the administrative divisions of France, the department (french: département, ) is one of the three levels of government under the national level ("territorial collectivity, territorial collectivities"), between the regions of France, admini ...

département
s. The Breton départements more or less correspond to the nine Catholic dioceses that appeared at the beginning of the Middle Ages. They were often called "pays" or "bro" ("country" in French and
Breton Breton most often refers to: *anything associated with Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part ...
) and they also served as fiscal and military districts. Brittany is also divided between ''Lower Brittany'' ("Basse Bretagne" and "Breizh Izel"), corresponding to the western half, where
Breton Breton most often refers to: *anything associated with Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part ...
is traditionally spoken, and ''Upper Brittany'' ("Haute Bretagne" and "Breizh Uhel"), corresponding to the eastern half, where Gallo is traditionally spoken. The historical Breton dioceses were: *Upper Brittany: **The ''Pays nantais'', around
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
, corresponding to the
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
''département''. **The ''Pays rennais'', around
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
, forming part of the
Ille-et-Vilaine Ille-et-Vilaine (; br, Il-ha-Gwilen) is a departments of France, department of France, located in the regions of France, region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany in the northwest of the country. It is named after the two rivers of the ...
''département''. **The ''Pays de Dol'', around Dol-de-Bretagne, corresponding to the northern part of the
Ille-et-Vilaine Ille-et-Vilaine (; br, Il-ha-Gwilen) is a departments of France, department of France, located in the regions of France, region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany in the northwest of the country. It is named after the two rivers of the ...
''département''. **The ''Pays de Saint-Brieuc'', around Saint-Brieuc, forming part of the
Côtes-d'Armor The Côtes-d'Armor (, ; ; br, Aodoù-an-Arvor, ), formerly known as Côtes-du-Nord ( br, Aodoù-an-Hanternoz, link=no), are a department in the north of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gall ...
''département''. **The ''Pays de Saint-Malo'', around Saint-Malo, divided between
Ille-et-Vilaine Ille-et-Vilaine (; br, Il-ha-Gwilen) is a departments of France, department of France, located in the regions of France, region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany in the northwest of the country. It is named after the two rivers of the ...
, Côtes-d'Armor and
Morbihan Morbihan (; ; br, Mor-Bihan, ) is a departments of France, department in the Regions of France, administrative region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany, situated in the northwest of France. It is named after the Gulf of Morbihan, Morbi ...

Morbihan
. *Lower Brittany: **The ''Pays vannetais'', around
Vannes Vannes (; br, Gwened) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is w ...

Vannes
, corresponding to the
Morbihan Morbihan (; ; br, Mor-Bihan, ) is a departments of France, department in the Regions of France, administrative region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany, situated in the northwest of France. It is named after the Gulf of Morbihan, Morbi ...

Morbihan
''département''. **The ''Cornouaille'', around Quimper, divided between
Finistère Finistère (, ; br, Penn-ar-Bed ) is a department of France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and O ...

Finistère
and
Côtes-d'Armor The Côtes-d'Armor (, ; ; br, Aodoù-an-Arvor, ), formerly known as Côtes-du-Nord ( br, Aodoù-an-Hanternoz, link=no), are a department in the north of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gall ...
. **The ''Léon'', around Saint-Pol-de-Léon, corresponding to the northern part of the
Finistère Finistère (, ; br, Penn-ar-Bed ) is a department of France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and O ...

Finistère
''département''. **The ''Trégor'', around Tréguier, forming part of the
Côtes-d'Armor The Côtes-d'Armor (, ; ; br, Aodoù-an-Arvor, ), formerly known as Côtes-du-Nord ( br, Aodoù-an-Hanternoz, link=no), are a department in the north of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gall ...
''département''. During the French Revolution, four dioceses were suppressed and the five remaining ones were modified to have the same administrative borders as the
département In the administrative divisions of France, the department (french: département, ) is one of the three levels of government under the national level ("territorial collectivity, territorial collectivities"), between the regions of France, admini ...

département
s.


Capital cities

Brittany has several historical capital cities. When it was an independent duchy, the Estates of Brittany, which can be compared to a parliament, met in various towns: Dinan, Ploërmel,
Redon Redon (; ) is a Communes of France, commune in the Ille-et-Vilaine Departments of France, department in Brittany (administrative region), Brittany in northwestern France. It is a Subprefectures in France, sub-prefecture of the department. Geograp ...
,
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
, Vitré, Ille-et-Vilaine, Vitré, Guérande, and, most of all,
Vannes Vannes (; br, Gwened) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is w ...

Vannes
, where they met 19 times, and
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
, 17 times. The Court and the government were also very mobile, and each dynasty favoured its own castles and estates. The dukes mostly lived in
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
,
Vannes Vannes (; br, Gwened) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is w ...

Vannes
,
Redon Redon (; ) is a Communes of France, commune in the Ille-et-Vilaine Departments of France, department in Brittany (administrative region), Brittany in northwestern France. It is a Subprefectures in France, sub-prefecture of the department. Geograp ...
,
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
, Fougères, Dol-de-Bretagne, Dinan and Guérande. All these towns except Vannes are located in Upper Brittany, thus not in the Breton speaking area. Among all these towns, only
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
,
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
and
Vannes Vannes (; br, Gwened) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is w ...

Vannes
, which were the biggest ones, could really pretend to the capital status. The dukes were crowned in Rennes and they had a large castle there; it was however destroyed during the 15th century. Vannes, on its side, was the seat of the Chamber of Accounts and of the Parliament until the union with France. The Parliament was then transferred to Rennes, and the Chamber of Accounts to Nantes. Nantes, nicknamed "the city of the Dukes of Brittany", was also the permanent residence of the last dukes. The Château des ducs de Bretagne still stands in the city centre. Nowadays,
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
is the only official capital of the Brittany (administrative region), region of Brittany. It is also the seat of an ecclesiastical province encompassing Brittany and the
Pays de la Loire In France, a ''pays'' () is an area whose inhabitants share common geographical, economic, cultural, or social interests, who have a right to enter into communal planning contracts under a law known as the Loi Pasqua or LOADT (''Loi d'Orientatio ...
region.


Present subdivisions

During the French Revolution, Brittany was divided into five ''
département In the administrative divisions of France, the department (french: département, ) is one of the three levels of government under the national level ("territorial collectivity, territorial collectivities"), between the regions of France, admini ...

département
s'', each made up of three or four ''arrondissements of France, arrondissements''. The arrondissements are further divided in cantons of France, cantons, which are themselves made up of one or several communes of France, communes. The communes and the départements have a local council elected by their citizens, but arrondissements and cantons are not run by elected officials. The cantons serve as an electoral district for the election of the département councils and arrondissements are run by a subprefect appointed by the President of the French Republic, French president. The president also appoints a prefect in each département. Because the départements are small and numerous, the French government tried to create wider regions during the 20th century. For the Breton nationalists, it was an occasion to recreate Brittany as a political and administrative entity, but the new region had to be economically efficient.
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
and its ''département'',
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
, raised concerns because they were off-centered, more integrated with the Loire Valley than with the Breton peninsula. The French government and local politicians also feared that
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
, because of its population and its former Breton capital status, would have maintained a harmful competition with
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
to get the regional institutions and investments. Several drafts for French regions had been proposed since the 1920s, and the definitive regions were drawn in 1956. The new Brittany had four départements, and
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
formed the
Pays de la Loire In France, a ''pays'' () is an area whose inhabitants share common geographical, economic, cultural, or social interests, who have a right to enter into communal planning contracts under a law known as the Loi Pasqua or LOADT (''Loi d'Orientatio ...
region together with parts of Anjou, Maine (province of France), Maine and Poitou. In 1972, the regions received their present competencies, with an elected regional council. Since then, the Brittany (administrative region), region of Brittany has had its own Regional Council of Brittany, council and administrative bodies.


Reunification

When the Brittany (administrative region), region of Brittany was created, several local politicians opposed the exclusion of
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
, and the question still remains. The obstacles to reunification are the same as in 1956: having
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
in Brittany could harm the position of
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
and create an economic imbalance between Lower Brittany, Lower and Upper Brittany. Moreover, the
Pays de la Loire In France, a ''pays'' () is an area whose inhabitants share common geographical, economic, cultural, or social interests, who have a right to enter into communal planning contracts under a law known as the Loi Pasqua or LOADT (''Loi d'Orientatio ...
region could not exist without
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
, because it would lose its political and economic capital. Without Loire-Atlantique, the other départements would not form an efficient region any more, and would have to integrate neighbouring regions such as the Centre-Val de Loire and Poitou-Charentes. However, several institutions have backed the reunification, such as the regional council of Brittany since 2008 and the Loire-Atlantique council since 2001. Some politicians like Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French prime minister and former Mayor (France), mayor of
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
, favour instead the creation of a "Greater West region", which would encompass Brittany and the
Pays de la Loire In France, a ''pays'' () is an area whose inhabitants share common geographical, economic, cultural, or social interests, who have a right to enter into communal planning contracts under a law known as the Loi Pasqua or LOADT (''Loi d'Orientatio ...
region. Polls show that 58% of the Bretons and 62% of the inhabitants in
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
favour the reunification.


Political tendencies

Until the end of the 20th century, Brittany had been characterised by a strong Catholic and conservative influence. However, some areas such as the industrial region around Saint-Nazaire and Lorient and the surroundings of Tréguier are traditional Socialist and Communist strongholds. Left-wing parties, mainly the Socialist Party (France), Socialist party and the Greens (France), the Greens, have become more and more powerful after the 1970s and they have formed a majority in the Regional Council of Brittany since 2004. The
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
and
Ille-et-Vilaine Ille-et-Vilaine (; br, Il-ha-Gwilen) is a departments of France, department of France, located in the regions of France, region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany in the northwest of the country. It is named after the two rivers of the ...
councils have also been held by the left since 2004. The Socialist party has held the
Côtes-d'Armor The Côtes-d'Armor (, ; ; br, Aodoù-an-Arvor, ), formerly known as Côtes-du-Nord ( br, Aodoù-an-Hanternoz, link=no), are a department in the north of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gall ...
council since 1976, and the
Finistère Finistère (, ; br, Penn-ar-Bed ) is a department of France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and O ...

Finistère
council since 1998. On its side,
Morbihan Morbihan (; ; br, Mor-Bihan, ) is a departments of France, department in the Regions of France, administrative region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany, situated in the northwest of France. It is named after the Gulf of Morbihan, Morbi ...

Morbihan
remains a right-wing stronghold. The local parties have a very small audience, except the Union Démocratique Bretonne which has seats at the Regional Council and in other local assemblies. It advocates more autonomy for the region and its positions are very close to the Socialist parties. It also has a strong ecological orientation. The audience of far-right parties is lower in Brittany than in the rest of France.


Geography and natural history

Brittany is the largest French
peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The surrounding water is usually understood to be continuous, though ...

peninsula
. It is around and stretches toward the northwest and the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered to the north by the
English Channel The English Channel,, "The Sleeve"; nrf, la Maunche, "The Sleeve" (Cotentinais Cotentinais is the dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in two ...

English Channel
, to the south by the
Bay of Biscay The Bay of Biscay (; french: Golfe de Gascogne, es, Golfo de Vizcaya, eu, Bizkaiko Golkoa, oc, Golf de Gasconha, br, Pleg-mor Gwaskogn) is a gulf A gulf is a large inlet from the ocean into the landmass, typically with a narrower openin ...
and the waters located between the western coast and Ushant Island form the Iroise Sea. The Breton coast is very indented, with many cliffs, rias and Cape (geography), capes. The Gulf of Morbihan is a vast natural harbour with some forty islands that is almost a closed sea. In total, around 800 islands lie off the mainland; the largest being Belle Île, in the south. Brittany has over of coastline; it represents a third of the total French coastline. The region is generally hilly because it corresponds to the western end of the Armorican Massif, a very old range that also extends in
Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, ...

Normandy
and the
Pays de la Loire In France, a ''pays'' () is an area whose inhabitants share common geographical, economic, cultural, or social interests, who have a right to enter into communal planning contracts under a law known as the Loi Pasqua or LOADT (''Loi d'Orientatio ...
region. Because of this continuity, the Breton border with the rest of France is not marked by any strong geographical landmark, apart from the river Couesnon, which separates Brittany from
Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, ...

Normandy
. The Armorican Massif reaches its maximum elevation outside of Brittany, in neighbouring Mayenne, at 417 m, and slopes towards the west before straightening on its western extremity, with the Montagnes Noires and the Monts d'Arrée. The highest hill in Brittany is the ''Roc'h Ruz'' in the Monts d'Arrée, at . It is closely followed by several neighbouring hills culminating at around 384 m above sea level. Coastal areas are usually named ''Armor'' or ''Arvor'' ("by the sea" in Breton), and the inland is called ''Argoat'' ("by the forest"). The best soils were primitively covered by large forests which had been progressively replaced by bocage during the Middle Ages. The Breton bocage, with its small fields enclosed by thick hedgerows, has almost disappeared since the 1960s to fit the modern agricultural needs and methods, particularly mechanisation. Several forests still exist, such as the Paimpont forest, sometimes said to be the Arthurian Brocéliande. The poor and rocky areas are covered by large heathland and moorlands, and Brittany has several marshes, like the Brière, included in a Regional natural parks of France, regional natural park. Another regional park encompasses the Monts d'Arrée and the Iroise Sea, Iroise seacoast. The Iroise Sea is also a Man and the Biosphere Programme, UNESCO biosphere reserve.


Geology

The Breton peninsula appeared during the Cadomian Orogeny, which formed its northern coastline, between Guingamp and Fougères. The southern part emerged during the Variscan orogeny, Hercynian orogeny. At the same time, an intense volcanic activity left large quantities of granite. Between the Cadomian and Hercynian periods, the region was submerged several times and the sea left fossils and sedimentary rocks, mostly schist and sandstone. Because of the absence of limestone, soils in Brittany are usually acid. The Armorican massif straightened and flattened several times during the formation of the Pyrenees and the Alps. Changes in sea levels and climate led to a strong erosion and to the formation of more sedimentary rocks. Metamorphism is responsible for the distinctive local blue schist and for the rich subsoil of the Groix, Groix island, which comprises glaucophane and epidote. During the Quaternary glaciations, Brittany was covered by loess and rivers started to fill the valleys with alluvial deposits. The valleys themselves were a result of a strong tectonic activity between the African plate, African and the Eurasian plate. The present Breton landscape did not acquired its final shape before one million years ago. The Breton subsoil is characterised by a huge amount of fracture (geology), fractures that form a large aquifer containing several millions square meters of water.


Climate

Brittany lies within the Temperateness, north temperate zone. It has a changeable, maritime climate, similar to
Cornwall Cornwall (; kw, Kernow ) is a Historic counties of England, historic county and Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in South West England. It is recognised as one of the Celtic nations, and is the homeland of the Cornish people ...

Cornwall
. Rainfall occurs regularly but sunny, cloudless days are also common. In the summer months, temperatures in the region can reach , yet the climate remains comfortable, especially when compared to the French regions located south of the Loire River, Loire. The temperature difference between summer and winter is about fifteen degrees, but it varies depending on the proximity of the sea. The weather is generally milder on the seacoast than inland but rainfall occurs with the same intensity on both. The Monts d'Arrée, despite their low elevation, have much more rainfall than the rest of the region. The south coast, between Lorient and Pornic, enjoys more than 2,000 hours of sunshine per year.


Flora and fauna

Brittany's wildlife is typical of France with several distinctions. On one hand, the region, due to its long coastline, has a rich oceanic fauna, and some birds cannot be seen in other French regions. On the other hand, the species found in the inland are usually common for France, and because Brittany is a peninsula, the number of species is lower in its western extremity than in the eastern part. A variety of seabirds can be seen close to the seaside, which is home to colonies of Great cormorant, cormorants, European herring gull, gulls, razorbills, northern gannets, common murres and Atlantic puffins. Most of these birds breed on isolated islands and rocks and thus are hard to observe. The inland is home to common European species including pheasants, barn swallows, Eurasian woodcock, woodcocks, common swifts, Grey partridge, partridges... Like
Cornwall Cornwall (; kw, Kernow ) is a Historic counties of England, historic county and Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in South West England. It is recognised as one of the Celtic nations, and is the homeland of the Cornish people ...

Cornwall
, Wales and Ireland, the waters of Brittany attract marine animals including basking sharks, grey seals, leatherback turtles, dolphins, porpoises, jellyfish, crabs and lobsters. Bass (fish), Bass is common along the coast, small-spotted catsharks live on the continental shelf, rattails and anglerfish populate the deep waters. River fish of note include trout, Atlantic salmon, northern pike, pikes, shades and lampreys. The Breton rivers are also home to European beaver, beavers and Eurasian otter, otters and to some invasive American species, such as the coypu which destroys the ecosystem and accelerated the extinction of the European mink. Among the invertebrates, Brittany is notably home to the escargot de Quimper, the freshwater pearl mussel and the Austropotamobius pallipes, white-clawed crayfish. The larger Breton mammals died out during the modern period, including the wolf. Today, mammals of note include roe deer, wild boar, foxes, hares and several species of bat. Brittany is widely known for the Breton horse, a local breed of draft horse, and for the Brittany (dog), Brittany gun dog. The region also has its own breeds of cattle, some of which are on the brink of extinction: the Bretonne Pie Noir, the Froment du Léon, the Armorican (cattle), Armorican and the Nantaise. The Breton forests, dunes, moorlands and marshes are home to several iconic plants, such as endemic cistus, aster (genus), aster and linaria varieties, the hippocrepis comosa, horseshoe vetch and the lotus maritimus.


Education

Brittany has the same education system as the rest of France. As in other French regions, formal education before the 19th century was the preserve of the elite. Before 1460, Brittany did not have a university, and Breton students had to go to Angers, Poitiers or Caen. The University of Nantes was founded under the duke Francis II of Brittany, Francis II, who wanted to affirm the Breton independence from France. All the traditional disciplines were taught here: arts, theology, law and medicine. During the 17th century, it had around 1,500 students. It declined during the 18th century, mostly because
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
was flourishing with the Atlantic slave trade and paid no attention to its cultural institutions. A Mayor (France), mayor eventually asked the university to be relocated to
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
, more devoted to culture and science, and the faculties progressively moved there after 1735.
«La Lente Mise en Place des Universités Bretonnes»
'', Science Ouest N°93
The transfer was interrupted by the French Revolution, and all the French universities were dissolved in 1793. Napoleon reorganised the French education system in 1808. He created new universities and invented two secondary education in France, secondary education institutions: the "collèges" and the "lycées" which were opened in numerous towns to educate boys and form a new elite. A new University of Rennes was progressively recreated during the 19th century. In the meantime, several laws were promoted to open schools, notably for girls. In 1882, Jules Ferry succeeded in passing a law which made primary education in France free, non-clerical (laïque) and mandatory. Thus, free schools were opened in almost every villages of Brittany. Jules Ferry also promoted education policies establishing French language as the language of the Republic, and mandatory education was a mean to eradicate regional languages and dialects. In Brittany, it was forbidden for the pupils to speak
Breton Breton most often refers to: *anything associated with Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part ...
or Gallo, and the two were strongly depreciated. Humiliating practices aimed at stamping out the Breton language and culture prevailed in state schools until the late 1960s. In response, the Diwan (school), Diwan schools were founded in 1977 to teach Breton by Language immersion, immersion. They have taught a few thousand young people from elementary school to high school, and they have gained more and more fame owing to their high level of results in school exams. A bilingual approach has also been implemented in some state schools after 1979, and some Catholic schools have done the same after 1990. Besides, Brittany, with the neighbouring
Pays de la Loire In France, a ''pays'' () is an area whose inhabitants share common geographical, economic, cultural, or social interests, who have a right to enter into communal planning contracts under a law known as the Loi Pasqua or LOADT (''Loi d'Orientatio ...
region, remains a stronghold for Catholic private education with around 1,400 schools. During the 20th century, tertiary education was developed with the creation of the École centrale de Nantes in 1919, the University of Nantes in 1961, the ESC Bretagne Brest in 1962, the University of Western Brittany in 1971, the École Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications de Bretagne in 1977 and the University of Southern Brittany in 1995. The Catholic University of the West, based in Angers, also opened classes in several Breton towns. In 1969, the University of Rennes was divided between the University of Rennes 1 and the University of Rennes 2 – Upper Brittany. After the Second World War, the Ecole Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr, the foremost French military academy, settled in Coëtquidan.


Economy

Brittany, apart from some areas such as Lorient,
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
and Saint-Nazaire, has never been heavily industrialised. Today, fishing and agriculture remain important activities. Brittany has more than 40,000 farms, mostly oriented towards cattle, pig and poultry breeding, as well as cereal and vegetable production. The number of farms tends to diminish, but as a result, they are merged into very large estates. Brittany is the first producer in France for vegetables (green beans, onions, artichokes, potatoes, tomatoes...). Cereals are mostly grown for cattle feeding. Wine, especially muscadet, is made in a small region south of
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
. Brittany is the first region in France for fishing. The activity employs around 9,000 people, and more than 60 firms work in fish and seafood processing. Although relatively new, the Breton industry has been constantly growing since 1980. Food processing (meat, vegetables...) represents a third of the industrial jobs, but other activities are also important for the local economy. Shipbuilding, both commercial and military, is implanted in Saint-Nazaire (Chantiers de l'Atlantique), Lorient and
Brest Brest may refer to: Places * Brest, Belarus, a city formerly known as Brest-Litovsk * Brest, Čučer-Sandevo, a village in North Macedonia * Brest, France, a city and harbour in Brittany * Brest, Germany, a municipality * Brest, Kyustendil Province ...
; Airbus has plants in Saint-Nazaire and
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
; and Peugeot has a large factory in
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
. Brittany is the second French region for telecommunication and the fifth for electronics, two activities mainly developed in
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
, Lannion and Brest. Tourism is particularly important for the seacoast and Brittany is one of the most visited regions in France. In April 2019, The The Guardian, Guardian's travel section included two Brittany locations in its list of ''20 of the most beautiful villages in France''. The two were Rochefort-en-Terre with "its covered market, 12th-century church, medieval castle, 19th-century chateau, and 16th- and 17th-century mansions" and Locronan, where "East India Company’s offices still stand on the village square, as well as 17th-century merchants' dwellings". The unemployment rate in Brittany is lower than in other French regions and it is usually around 6 or 7% of the active population. Because of the financial crisis of 2007–2008, global financial crisis started in 2007, unemployment rose to 8.7% in the Brittany (administrative region), Region Brittany and 8.4% in
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
in late 2012. However, these figures remain under the French national rate (9.9% at the same period). Some industries, such as construction, industry, catering or transport, usually have difficulties finding employees. In 2009, Brittany (administrative region), Region Brittany's gross domestic product reached 82 billion euros. It was the seventh richest region in France and it produced 4.4% of the national GDP. The Breton GDP per capita was around 25,739 euros in 2009. It was lower than the French result, 29,897 euros, but higher than the European union, European one, 23,500 euros. The GDP of the
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
''
département In the administrative divisions of France, the department (french: département, ) is one of the three levels of government under the national level ("territorial collectivity, territorial collectivities"), between the regions of France, admini ...

département
'' is around 26 billion euros, and the GDP of the five historical Breton départements would be at around 108 billion euros.


Demographics

In 2017, the population in Brittany (administrative region), Region Brittany was estimated to 3,318,904 and
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
had around 1,394,909 inhabitants, thus historical Brittany's population can be estimated at 4,713,813, the highest in its history. The population in Brittany (administrative region), Region Brittany had grown by 0.9% between 1999 and 2000, and the growth rate reached more than 1% in
Ille-et-Vilaine Ille-et-Vilaine (; br, Il-ha-Gwilen) is a departments of France, department of France, located in the regions of France, region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany in the northwest of the country. It is named after the two rivers of the ...
and
Morbihan Morbihan (; ; br, Mor-Bihan, ) is a departments of France, department in the Regions of France, administrative region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany, situated in the northwest of France. It is named after the Gulf of Morbihan, Morbi ...

Morbihan
. The region around
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
and the south are the more attractive areas, whereas the population is declining in the centre and in the westernmost parts. While most of the metropolitan areas are growing, the cities themselves tend to stagnate or regress, such as for
Brest Brest may refer to: Places * Brest, Belarus, a city formerly known as Brest-Litovsk * Brest, Čučer-Sandevo, a village in North Macedonia * Brest, France, a city and harbour in Brittany * Brest, Germany, a municipality * Brest, Kyustendil Province ...
, Lorient, Saint-Brieuc and Saint-Malo. In 2017,
Ille-et-Vilaine Ille-et-Vilaine (; br, Il-ha-Gwilen) is a departments of France, department of France, located in the regions of France, region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany in the northwest of the country. It is named after the two rivers of the ...
had 1,060,199 inhabitants, it was followed by
Finistère Finistère (, ; br, Penn-ar-Bed ) is a department of France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and O ...

Finistère
909,028 inhabitants,
Morbihan Morbihan (; ; br, Mor-Bihan, ) is a departments of France, department in the Regions of France, administrative region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany, situated in the northwest of France. It is named after the Gulf of Morbihan, Morbi ...

Morbihan
750,863 inhabitants, and
Côtes-d'Armor The Côtes-d'Armor (, ; ; br, Aodoù-an-Arvor, ), formerly known as Côtes-du-Nord ( br, Aodoù-an-Hanternoz, link=no), are a department in the north of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gall ...
, with 598,814 inhabitants.Téléchargement du fichier d'ensemble des populations légales en 2017
Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques, INSEE
The largest cities in Brittany (administrative region), Region Brittany as of 2017 were
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
, with 216,815 inhabitants,
Brest Brest may refer to: Places * Brest, Belarus, a city formerly known as Brest-Litovsk * Brest, Čučer-Sandevo, a village in North Macedonia * Brest, France, a city and harbour in Brittany * Brest, Germany, a municipality * Brest, Kyustendil Province ...
140,064, Quimper 62,985, Lorient 57,149,
Vannes Vannes (; br, Gwened) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is w ...

Vannes
53,352, Saint-Malo 46,097 and Saint-Brieuc 44,372. All the other communes had under 25,000 inhabitants. Brittany is also characterised by a great number of small towns, such as Vitré, Ille-et-Vilaine, Vitré, Concarneau, Morlaix or Auray.
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
has two major cities,
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
, with 309,346 inhabitants and an urban area encompassing 972,828, and Saint-Nazaire, with 69,993 inhabitants. Loire-Atlantique's population is more rapidly growing than Brittany (administrative region), Region Brittany's and it is the 12th most populated French
département In the administrative divisions of France, the department (french: département, ) is one of the three levels of government under the national level ("territorial collectivity, territorial collectivities"), between the regions of France, admini ...

département
. Nevertheless, since the 1990s, Rennes has consistently ranked as one of France's fastest growing metropolitan areas. In 1851, Brittany had around 2.7 million inhabitants and the demographic growth stayed low until the second half of the 20th century, mainly because of an important emigration. Brittany had 3.2 million inhabitants in 1962 and the growth was mainly due to
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
and the steady growth of
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
. Without the Loire-Atlantique's figures, the Breton population only numbered 2.4 million in 1962, nearly unchanged from its population of 2.3 million in 1851. After the 1960s, the whole region has had a strong demographic growth because of the decline of the traditional emigration to richer French regions. Instead, Brittany has become attractive, particularly for families, young retired persons and active people over 35 years old.


Regional identity

Breton political parties do not have wide support and their electoral success is small. However, Bretons have a strong cultural identity. According to a poll made in 2008, 50% of the inhabitants of the Brittany (administrative region), Region Brittany consider themselves as much Breton as French, 22.5% feel more Breton than French, and 15.4% more French than Breton. A minority, 1.5%, considers itself Breton but not French, while 9.3% do not consider themselves to be Breton at all.Sondage CNRS, TMO-Ouest
Résultats
commentés dan
''Ouest-France'', 14-05.2009, page 7
51.9% of the poll respondents agreed that Brittany should have more political power, and 31.1% thought that it should stay the same. Only 4.6% favoured independence, and 9.4% were undecided. A 2012 poll taken in the five departments of historical Brittany showed that 48% of the respondents considered themselves belonging first to France, 37% to Brittany, and 10% to Europe. It also showed that Breton identity is stronger among people younger than 35. 53% of them considering themselves to belong first to Brittany. 50% of the older respondents considered themselves belonging first to France. Primary Breton identity is at its lowest among the respondents over 65: 58% consider themselves to belong first to France, with European identify secondary. 21% of the respondents over 65 considering themselves to be European first. Breton self-identification is stronger among people who vote left-wing. It is stronger among employees than employers.


Regional languages

French, the only official language of the French Republic, is spoken today by the vast majority in Brittany, and it is the mother tongue of most people. Nonetheless, French was not widely known before the 19th century, and two regional languages exist in Brittany:
Breton Breton most often refers to: *anything associated with Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part ...
and Gallo. They are separated by a language border that has constantly moved back since the Middle Ages. The current border runs from Plouha on the
English Channel The English Channel,, "The Sleeve"; nrf, la Maunche, "The Sleeve" (Cotentinais Cotentinais is the dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in two ...

English Channel
to the Rhuys Peninsula on the
Bay of Biscay The Bay of Biscay (; french: Golfe de Gascogne, es, Golfo de Vizcaya, eu, Bizkaiko Golkoa, oc, Golf de Gasconha, br, Pleg-mor Gwaskogn) is a gulf A gulf is a large inlet from the ocean into the landmass, typically with a narrower openin ...
. Because of their origins and practice, Breton and Gallo can be compared to Scottish Gaelic and Scots language in Scotland. Both have been recognised as "Langues de Bretagne" (languages of Brittany) by the Regional Council of Brittany since 2004.


Breton

Breton is a Celtic language derived from the historical Common Brittonic language, and is most closely related to Cornish language, Cornish and
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
. It was imported to Western
Armorica Armorica or Aremorica ( br, Arvorig, ) is the name given in ancient times to the part of Gaul between the Seine and the Loire that includes the Brittany Peninsula, extending inland to an indeterminate point and down the Atlantic Coast. Name ...

Armorica
during the 5th century by Britons fleeing the
Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain The Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain is the process which changed the language and culture of most of what became England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders ...
. Breton remained the language of the rural population, but since the Middle Ages the bourgeoisie, the nobility, and the higher clergy have spoken French. Government policies in the 19th and 20th centuries made education compulsory and, at the same time, forbade the use of Breton in schools to push non-French speakers into adopting the French language. Nevertheless, until the 1960s Breton was spoken or understood by many of the inhabitants of western Brittany. During the 1970s, Breton schools were opened and the local authorities started to promote the language, which was on the brink of extinction because parents had stopped teaching it to their children. Having declined from more than one million speakers around 1950 to about 200,000 in the first decade of the 21st century, of whom 61% are more than 60 years old, Breton is classified as "severely endangered" by the UNESCO Red Book of Endangered Languages, Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger. However, the number of children attending bilingual classes has risen 33% between 2006 and 2012 to 14,709.Fañch Broudic, 2009. ''Parler Breton au XXIe siècle – Le nouveau sondage de TMO-Régions.'' (including data from 2007: 172,000 speakers in Lower Brittany; slightly under 200,000 in whole Brittany; 206,000 including students in bilingual education)Données clés sur Breton, Ofis ar Brezhoneg
/ref> The
Breton language Breton (; ; or in Morbihan Morbihan (; ; br, Mor-Bihan, ) is a departments of France, department in the Regions of France, administrative region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany, situated in the northwest of France. It is name ...
has several dialects which have no precise limits but rather form a dialect continuum, continuum. Most of them are very similar to each other, with only some phonetic and lexical differences. The three main dialects spoken in the western end of Brittany are: * the Cornouillais'', around Quimper, * the ''Léonard'', around Saint-Pol-de-Léon, and * the ''Trégorrois'', around Tréguier, are grouped into the ''KLT group'' (Kerne-Leon-Treger), in opposition to the ''Vannetais'', spoken around
Vannes Vannes (; br, Gwened) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is w ...

Vannes
, which is the most differentiated Breton dialect. According to a 1999 INSEE survey, 12% of the adults of Brittany speak Breton.


Gallo

Gallo is spoken on the eastern half of Brittany. It is not itself a Celtic language. Like French, it is also descended from Latin (and is classified in the Langues d'oïl branch), but has some Celtic influences, particularly in its vocabulary, whereas French has influences from both Celtic (Gaulish language, Gaulish) and Frankish language, Frankish (the Germanic language which arrived after Latin in much of the rest of France). Unlike Breton, Gallo does not have a long promotion history and it is still often perceived as a poor rural dialect. Moreover, because of its linguistic relationship with Gallo, French imposed itself more easily as the main language in Upper Brittany than in Breton speaking areas. Gallo was simply felt to be an incorrect way of speaking French rather than a separate language. Gallo transmission from parents to children is extremely low and efforts to standardise and publish books in Gallo did not reverse the decline of the language and its lack of prestige dialect, prestige. Gallo is also threatened by the Breton language revival, because Breton is gaining ground in territories that were not previously part of the main Breton-speaking area, and most of all because Breton appears as the national language of Brittany, thus leaving no place for Gallo. Gallo had never been written before the 20th century, and several writing systems were created. They are however rarely known by the population and signs in Gallo are often unreadable, even for fluent speakers. In
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
, where Gallo is not promoted at all by the local authorities, many people do not even know the word "Gallo" and have no idea that it has writing systems and publications. The Gallo community is estimated at between 28,300 and 200,000 speakers. The language is taught on a non-compulsory basis in some schools, high-schools and universities, particularly in
Ille-et-Vilaine Ille-et-Vilaine (; br, Il-ha-Gwilen) is a departments of France, department of France, located in the regions of France, region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany in the northwest of the country. It is named after the two rivers of the ...
.


Religion

Bretons are mainly Roman Catholic, Catholic and the Christianisation occurred during the Gaul, Roman Gaul and Kingdom of the Franks, Frank era. During the Briton emigration to Brittany, several Christian missionaries, mostly Welsh, came in the region and founded dioceses. They are known as the "Seven founder saints": * Paul Aurelian, Paol Aoreliann, at Saint-Pol-de-Léon, * Tudwal, at Tréguier, * Brioc, Brieg, at Saint-Brieuc, * Malo (saint), Maloù, at Saint-Malo, * Samson of Dol, Samsun of Dol, at Dol-de-Bretagne, * Padarn, at
Vannes Vannes (; br, Gwened) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is w ...

Vannes
, * Corentin of Quimper, Kaourintin, at Quimper, Finistère, Quimper. Other notable early missionaries are Gildas and the Irish saint Columbanus. In total, Brittany numbers more than 300 "saints" (only a few recognised by the Catholic Church) and, since the 19th century at least, it has been known as one of the most devoutly Catholic regions in France, together with the neighbouring
Pays de la Loire In France, a ''pays'' () is an area whose inhabitants share common geographical, economic, cultural, or social interests, who have a right to enter into communal planning contracts under a law known as the Loi Pasqua or LOADT (''Loi d'Orientatio ...
region. The proportion of students attending Catholic private schools is the highest in France. The patron saint of Brittany is Saint Anne, the Virgin's mother, but Ivo of Kermartin, a 13th-century priest, called Saint-Yves in French and Sant-Erwan in Breton, can also be considered as a patron saint. His feast, 19 May, is Brittany's national day. Many distinctive traditions and customs have also been preserved in Brittany. Among them, the "Pardon (ceremony), Pardons" are one of the most traditional demonstrations of popular Catholicism. These sacrament of Penance (Catholic Church), penitential ceremonies occur in some villages in Lower Brittany on the feast day of the parish's saint. The penitents form a procession and they walk together to a shrine, a church or any sacred place. Some Pardons are reputed for their length, and they all finish by large meals and popular feasts. There is a very old pilgrimage called the ''Tro Breizh'' (tour of Brittany), where the pilgrims walk around Brittany from the grave of one of the seven founder saints to another. Historically, the pilgrimage was made in one trip (a total distance of around 600 km) for all seven saints. Nowadays, however, 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 Sant Paol, Sant Brieg, and Sant Samzun. The most powerful folk figure is the Ankou or the "Reaper of Death". Sometimes a skeleton wrapped in a shroud with the Breton flat hat, sometimes described as a real human being (the last dead of the year, devoted to bring the dead to Death), he makes his journeys by night carrying an upturned scythe which he throws before him to reap his harvest. Sometimes he is on foot but mostly he travels with a cart, the ''Karrig an Ankou'', drawn by two oxen and a lean horse. Two servants dressed in the same shroud and hat as the Ankou pile the dead into the cart, and to hear it creaking at night means you have little time left to live. As official religious statistics are forbidden in France, there are no official figures about religious practices in Brittany. However, successive polls show that the region tends to be more and more irreligion, nonreligious. Catholic religion has started to decline after the Second World War, during the urbanisation of Brittany. A poll conducted in 2006 showed that
Morbihan Morbihan (; ; br, Mor-Bihan, ) is a departments of France, department in the Regions of France, administrative region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany, situated in the northwest of France. It is named after the Gulf of Morbihan, Morbi ...

Morbihan
was the only ''
département In the administrative divisions of France, the department (french: département, ) is one of the three levels of government under the national level ("territorial collectivity, territorial collectivities"), between the regions of France, admini ...

département
'' to have a strong Catholic population, around 70% of its inhabitants belonging to that religion.
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
and
Côtes-d'Armor The Côtes-d'Armor (, ; ; br, Aodoù-an-Arvor, ), formerly known as Côtes-du-Nord ( br, Aodoù-an-Hanternoz, link=no), are a department in the north of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gall ...
were among the least Catholic French ''départements'', with only 50% of Catholics, while
Ille-et-Vilaine Ille-et-Vilaine (; br, Il-ha-Gwilen) is a departments of France, department of France, located in the regions of France, region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany in the northwest of the country. It is named after the two rivers of the ...
and
Finistère Finistère (, ; br, Penn-ar-Bed ) is a department of France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and O ...

Finistère
were at around 65%. Other religions are almost non-existent, apart from Islam which gathers between 1 and 3% of the inhabitants in
Ille-et-Vilaine Ille-et-Vilaine (; br, Il-ha-Gwilen) is a departments of France, department of France, located in the regions of France, region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany in the northwest of the country. It is named after the two rivers of the ...
and
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
.


Culture


Architecture

Brittany is home to many megalithic monuments; the words ''menhir'' and ''dolmen'' come from the
Breton language Breton (; ; or in Morbihan Morbihan (; ; br, Mor-Bihan, ) is a departments of France, department in the Regions of France, administrative region of Brittany (administrative region), Brittany, situated in the northwest of France. It is name ...
. The largest menhir alignments are the
Carnac stones The Carnac stones (Breton language, Breton: ''Steudadoù Karnag'') are an exceptionally dense collection of megalithic sites near the south coast of Brittany in northwestern France, consisting of stone alignments (rows), dolmens (stone tombs), t ...
. Other major sites include the
cairn A cairn is a man-made pile (or stack) of stones. The word ''cairn'' comes from the gd, càrn (plural ). Cairns have been and are used for a broad variety of purposes, from prehistoric times to the present. In modern times, cairns are often ...

cairn
, the
Locmariaquer megaliths The Locmariaquer megaliths are a complex of Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the world. It is first seen ...
, the Menhir de Champ-Dolent, the Mane Braz tumulus and the Gavrinis tomb. Monuments from the Roman Gaul, Roman period are rare, but include a large temple in Corseul and scarce ruins of villas and city walls in
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
and
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
. Brittany has a large number of medieval buildings. They include numerous Romanesque style, Romanesque and French Gothic architecture, French Gothic churches, usually built in local sandstone and granite, granit, castles and half-timbered houses visible in villages, towns and cities. Several Breton towns still have their medieval walls, such as Guérande, Concarneau, Saint-Malo,
Vannes Vannes (; br, Gwened) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is w ...

Vannes
, Fougères and Dinan. Major churches include Saint-Pol-de-Léon Cathedral, Tréguier Cathedral, Dol Cathedral, Nantes Cathedral and the Kreisker chapel. Most of the Breton castles were rebuilt between the 13th and the 15th century, such as the Château de Suscinio, the Château de Dinan, the Château de Combourg, the Château de Largoët, the Château de Tonquédec, the Josselin Castle and the Château de Trécesson. The most impressive castles can be seen along the border with France, where stand the Château de Fougères, the Château de Vitré, the Château de Châteaubriant and the Château de Clisson. The French Renaissance occurred when Brittany lost its independence. The Renaissance architecture is almost absent in the region, except in Upper Brittany, close to the border with France. Major sites include the Château des ducs de Bretagne, the last permanent residence of the dukes, which displays the transition from late Gothic to Renaissance style. The Château de Châteaubriant, a former fortress, was transformed into a vast palace in the Italian style. In Lower Brittany, the medieval style never totally disappeared. However, local innovations permitted some changes and the birth of a particular style. Its most distinctive feature is the parish close, which displays an elaborately decorated church surrounded by an entirely walled churchyard. Many villages still have their closes, they date from the 16th and 17th centuries and sometimes include an elaborately carved calvary (sculpture), calvary sculpture. During the 17th and the 18th centuries, the main seaports and towns obtained a typical French look, with baroque and neoclassical architecture, neoclassical buildings.
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
, which was at the time the biggest French harbour, received a theatre, large avenues and quays, and
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
was redesigned after a fire in 1720. At the same period, the wealthy ship-owners from Saint-Malo built many mansions called "Malouinières" around their town. Along the coast, Vauban and other French architects designed several citadels, such as in Le Palais and Port-Louis, Morbihan, Port-Louis. In rural areas, Breton houses remained simple, with a single floor and a longhouse pattern. They were built with local materials: mostly granite in Lower Brittany and schist in Upper Brittany. Slates and thatching, reeds were usually used for roofing. During the 19th century, the Breton architecture was mainly characterised by the Gothic Revival architecture, Gothic Revival and Eclecticism. Clisson, the southernmost Breton town, was rebuilt in an Italian Romanticism, Romantic style around 1820. The Breton lighthouses were mostly built during the 19th century. The most famous are Ar Men, Phare d'Eckmühl, La Vieille and La Jument. The lighthouse on the Île Vierge is, with 77 meters, the highest in Europe. At the end of the 19th century, several seaside resorts were created along the coast and villas and hotels were built in historicism (art), historicist, Art Nouveau, and later in the Art Deco styles. These architectures are particularly present in Dinard, La Baule and Bénodet. Architecture from the 20th century can be seen in Saint-Nazaire,
Brest Brest may refer to: Places * Brest, Belarus, a city formerly known as Brest-Litovsk * Brest, Čučer-Sandevo, a village in North Macedonia * Brest, France, a city and harbour in Brittany * Brest, Germany, a municipality * Brest, Kyustendil Province ...
and Lorient, three cities destroyed during the Second World War and rebuilt afterwards, and in the works of the Breton nationalist architects like James Bouillé and Olier Mordrel.


Fine arts

Until the 19th century, Catholicism had been the main inspiration for Breton artists. The region has a great number of baroque retables, made between the 17th and the 19th century. Breton sculptors were also famous for their ship models that served as ex-votos and for their richly decorated furniture, which features naïve Breton characters and traditional patterns. The box-bed is the most famous Breton piece of furniture. The Breton style had a strong revival between 1900 and the Second World War and it was used by the Seiz Breur movement. The Seiz Breur artists also tried to invent a modern Breton art by rejecting French standards and mixing traditional techniques with new materials. The leading artists of that period were the designer René-Yves Creston, the illustrators Jeanne Malivel and Xavier Haas, and the sculptors Raffig Tullou, Francis Renaud (sculptor), Francis Renaud, Georges Robin, Joseph Savina, Jules-Charles Le Bozec and Jean Fréour. Brittany is also known for its needlework, which can be seen on its numerous headdress models, and for its faience production, which started at the beginning of the 18th century. Quimper faience is known worldwide for its bowls and plates painted by hand, and other towns, such as Pornic, also maintain a similar tradition. The potteries usually feature naïve Breton characters in traditional clothing and daily scenes. The designs have a strong traditional Breton influence, but Orientalism and Art Deco have also been used. Because of its distinct culture and natural landscape, Brittany has inspired many French artists since the 19th century. The Pont-Aven School, which started to emerge in the 1850s and lasted until the beginning of the 20th century, had a decisive influence on modern painting. The artists who settled in Pont-Aven wanted to break away from the Academic art, Academic style of the École des Beaux-Arts and later from Impressionism when it began to decline. Among them were Paul Gauguin, Paul Signac, Marc Chagall, Paul Sérusier and Raymond Wintz. Before them, Brittany had also been visited by Academic and Romantic painters like Jean Antoine Théodore de Gudin and Jules Achille Noël who were looking for dramatic seascapes and storms.


Music

Since the early 1970s, Brittany has experienced a tremendous revival of its folk music. Numerous festivals were created, along with smaller ''fest noz, fest-noz'' (popular feasts). The ''bagadoù'', bands composed of bagpipes, bombard (music), bombards and drums (including Snare drum, snare), are also a modern creation, inspired by the Scottish pipe bands. The Lann-Bihoué bagad, one of the most well-known, belongs to the French Navy. It is the only one that does not take part to the annual bagadoù competitions. Celtic harp is also common, as are vocals and dances. The Kan ha diskan is the most common type of singing. The performers sing calls and responses while dancing. Breton dances usually imply circles, chains or couples and they are different in every region. The oldest dances seem to be the passepied and the gavotte, and the newest ones derive from the quadrille and French Renaissance dances. In the 1960s, several Breton artists started to use contemporary patterns to create a Breton pop music. Among them, Alan Stivell contributed most in popularising the Celtic harp and Breton music in the world. He also used American rock, American rock and roll in his works and influenced 1970s Breton bands such as Kornog, Gwerz and Tri Yann, who revived traditional songs and made them popular across France. Soldat Louis is the main Breton rock band, and Breton singers include Gilles Servat, Glenmor, Dan Ar Braz, Yann-Fañch Kemener, Denez Prigent, Nolwenn Korbell and Nolwenn Leroy. The Manau (group), Manau Hip hop music, Hip hop group from Paris has strong Breton and Celtic inspirations. Yann Tiersen, who composed the soundtrack for ''Amélie'', the Electro (music), Electro band Yelle and the avant-garde singer Brigitte Fontaine are also from Brittany. The 19th-century composer Louis-Albert Bourgault-Ducoudray was one of the first western European composers to be influenced by what is now known as world music.


Legends and literature

Brittany is closely associated with the Matter of Britain and King Arthur. According to Wace, Brocéliande is located in Brittany and it is nowadays considered to be Paimpont forest. There, ruins of a castle surrounded by a lake are associated with the Lady of the Lake, a dolmen is said to be Merlin's tomb and a path is presented as Morgan le Fay's Val sans Retour. Tristan and Iseult are also said to have lived in Brittany. Another major Breton legend is the story about Ys, a city swallowed by the ocean. Breton literature before the 19th century was mostly oral. The oral tradition entertained by medieval poets died out during the 15th century and books in
Breton Breton most often refers to: *anything associated with Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part ...
were very rare before 1850. At that time, local writers started to collect and publish local tales and legends and wrote original works. Published between 1925 and the Second World War, the literary journal Gwalarn favoured a modern Breton literature and helped translating widely known novels into Breton. After the war, the journal ''Al Liamm'' pursued that mission. Among the authors writing in Breton are Auguste Brizeux, a Romantic poet, the neo-Druidic bard Erwan Berthou, Théodore Claude Henri, vicomte Hersart de la Villemarqué, Théodore Hersart de La Villemarqué, who collected the local legends about King Arthur, Roparz Hemon, founder of Gwalarn, Pêr-Jakez Helias, Glenmor, Pêr Denez and Meavenn. Breton literature in French includes 19th-century historical novels by Émile Souvestre, travel journals by Anatole Le Braz, poems and novels by Charles Le Goffic, the works of the singer-songwriter Théodore Botrel and of the maritime writer Henri Queffélec. Brittany is also the birthplace of many French writers like François-René de Chateaubriand, Jules Verne, Ernest Renan, Félicité Robert de Lamennais and Pierre Abélard Max Jacob, Alfred Jarry, Victor Segalen, Xavier Grall, Jean Rouaud, Irène Frain, Herve Jaouen, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Pierre-Jakez Hélias, Tristan Corbière, Paul Féval, Jean Guéhenno, Arthur Bernède, André Breton, Patrick Poivre d'Arvor The ''Asterix'' comics, set during the time of
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
and written in the second half of the twentieth century, are set in Armorica, now Brittany.


Museums

The Museum of Brittany, located in
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
, was founded in 1856. Its collections are mainly dedicated to the history of the region. Museums dedicated to Prehistory and local megaliths are located in Carnac and Penmarch, while several towns like
Vannes Vannes (; br, Gwened) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is w ...

Vannes
and
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
have a museum presenting their own history. The Museum of Fine Arts of Rennes owns a large collection of Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities as well as drawings and engravings by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Parmigianino, Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt. Its French art collection gathers works by Georges de La Tour, François Boucher, Paul Gauguin, Auguste Rodin, Camille Corot and Robert Delaunay. It has also works by Pablo Picasso, Rubens, Peter Lely and Paolo Veronese. The collections of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, Museum of Fine Arts of Nantes are more dedicated to modern and contemporary art and contain works by Edward Burne-Jones, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Eugène Delacroix, Gustave Courbet, Paul Signac, Tamara de Lempicka, Wassily Kandinsky, Max Ernst, Pierre Soulages and Piero Manzoni. The Museums of Fine Arts of
Brest Brest may refer to: Places * Brest, Belarus, a city formerly known as Brest-Litovsk * Brest, Čučer-Sandevo, a village in North Macedonia * Brest, France, a city and harbour in Brittany * Brest, Germany, a municipality * Brest, Kyustendil Province ...
and Quimper offer similar collections, with large quantities of French painting together with the works of some Italian and Dutch artists. The Museum of Fine Arts Pont-Aven is dedicated to the School of Pont-Aven. Contemporary sculptures can be seen in the park around the Château de Kerguéhennec, in Bignan. Museums in Saint-Malo, Lorient and Douarnenez are dedicated to ships and maritime traditions and history. The Musée national de la Marine has a large annex in Brest and a submarine is opened to visitors in Lorient. In the same town, it is also possible to visit the Keroman Submarine Museum, and the ''Cité de la voile Éric Tabarly'', a museum dedicated to sailing. In Saint-Nazaire, where many Ocean liner, transatlantic ships were built, including ''SS Normandie'' and ''SS France (1961), SS France'', a museum showing transatlantic interiors was installed in a Second World War base. Nantes has a Jules Verne Museum, museum dedicated to Jules Verne, a Natural History Museum of Nantes, Natural History Museum and a museum of archaeology and design, the Musée Dobrée.


Festivals

Brittany has a vibrant calendar of festivals and events. It hosts some of France's biggest contemporary music festivals, such as La Route du Rock in Saint-Malo, the Vieilles Charrues Festival, Vieilles Charrues in
Carhaix Carhaix-Plouguer (; br, Karaez-Plougêr) is a Communes of France, commune in the Finistère Departments of France, department in western Brittany, France. Geography Carhaix is located in the Poher, an important territory of Brittany, sandwiched ...

Carhaix
, the Rencontres Trans Musicales in
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
, the Festival du Bout du Monde in Crozon, the Hellfest (French music festival), Hellfest in Clisson and the Astropolis in Brest. The Festival Interceltique de Lorient welcomes each year participants all the
Celtic nations The Celtic nations are a cultural area 's map of native American cultural areas within the territory of the United States of America , United States (1948) as defined by Melville J. Herskovits influence , homelands of the Celtic language ...
and their diasporas. La Folle Journée, in
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
, is the largest classical music festival in France. The Breton culture is highlighted during the ''Fête de la Bretagne'', which occurs in many places around Saint-Yves's day (19 May), and during the Festival de Cornouaille in Quimper. Several towns also organise historical re-enactments and events celebrating local traditions, such as the Filets Bleus in Concarneau which celebrates fishing. Brittany also has some film festivals like the Three Continents Festival in
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
. The Utopiales international science fiction festival is held in the same city. Brest and Douarnenez both organise large tall ship meetings.


Sport

Association football, Football, cycling and sailing are the three most popular sports in Brittany. Major football teams are the FC Nantes, the Stade Rennais F.C., the FC Lorient, the Stade Brestois 29, the Vannes OC and the En Avant de Guingamp. Professional footballers coming from the region also form the Brittany national football team which sometimes plays with national teams. Several Bretons have won the Tour de France: Bernard Hinault, Louison Bobet, Jean Robic and Lucien Petit-Breton as riders, and Cyrille Guimard as a ''directeur sportif''. Sailing is particularly important for sea-resorts like La Trinité-sur-Mer, Pornichet, Concarneau, Lorient and the îles de Glénan, where a prestigious school is located. A great number of Bretons have become acclaimed sailors, such as: Éric Tabarly, Loïck Peyron, Jean Le Cam, Michel Desjoyeaux, Olivier de Kersauson, Thomas Coville, Vincent Riou and Marc Pajot. The Route du Rhum, the Transat Québec-Saint-Malo, the Jules Verne Trophy are the main Breton sailing competitions. The Solitaire du Figaro stages often start in Brittany. Gouren, a style of folk wrestling, is the most popular Breton sport. The Boule bretonne is related to pétanque. The ''Palets'', common in Upper Brittany and in other French regions, is also related to pétanque, but players use iron disks instead of balls and they have to throw them on a wooden board.


Cuisine

Although Muscadet and Gros Plant white wines are produced south of the Loire River, Loire, the traditional drink of Brittany is cider. Brittany is the second-largest cider-producing region in France. Breton cider is traditionally served in a bowl or a cup. Brittany also has a long beer-brewing tradition, tracing its roots back to the 17th century. Young artisanal brewers are keeping a variety of beer types alive, such as ''Coreff de Morlaix'', ''Tri Martolod'' and ''Britt''. Stronger alcohols include the ''chouchen'', a sort of mead made with wild honey, and an apple eau de vie called ''lambig''. Crêpes and galettes are the two most well-known Breton dishes. The crêpes, made and served with butter, are eaten for dessert and the galettes are usually salty and made with buckwheat. They traditionally replaced bread as basic food and they can be served with cheese, sausages, bacon, mushrooms or eggs. They can be accompanied by Breton buttermilk called ''lait ribot''. Brittany also has a dish similar to the pot-au-feu known as the kig ha farz, which consists of stewed pork or beef with buckwheat dumplings. Surrounded by the sea, Brittany offers a wide range of fresh seafood and fish, especially mussels and oysters. Among the seafood specialities is a fish stew called cotriade. The beurre blanc sauce, invented in Saint-Julien-de-Concelles, close to
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
, is often served with fish. Brittany is also known for its salt, mainly harvested around Guérande and used in butter and milk caramels. The region is notable for its biscuit factories, many towns having their own: Quimper, Lorient, Pont-Aven, Saint-Brieuc, BN and Lefèvre-Utile, LU in
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
, La Trinitaine in La Trinité-sur-Mer, and Galettes Saint-Michel in Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef. They usually make their biscuits with salted butter and sell them in iron boxes. Famous Breton pastry, pastries include the ''kouign amann'' ("butter cake" in Breton) made with bread dough and high quantities of butter and sugar, and the ''far Breton, far'', a sort of sweet Yorkshire pudding usually made with plums.


Transport


Road

Until the 1970s, the Breton road network was poor because maritime and rail transport prevailed. The French president Charles de Gaulle implemented a major road construction plan in the 1970 and Brittany received over 10 billion French francs, francs of investments during 25 years. More than 10,000 km of controlled-access highway, motorways were built, permitting Breton road transport to multiply by four. The Breton motorways are not toll roads, contrarily to the usual French highways. The main road artery linking cities and other settlements along the north coast is the Route nationale 12 which connects the cities of
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
, Saint-Brieuc, Morlaix and
Brest Brest may refer to: Places * Brest, Belarus, a city formerly known as Brest-Litovsk * Brest, Čučer-Sandevo, a village in North Macedonia * Brest, France, a city and harbour in Brittany * Brest, Germany, a municipality * Brest, Kyustendil Province ...
. It also provides a link to southern
Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, ...

Normandy
, terminating in Paris. In south Brittany the Route nationale 165 performs a similar role along the south coast providing connections between
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
,
Vannes Vannes (; br, Gwened) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is w ...

Vannes
, Lorient, Quimper and
Brest Brest may refer to: Places * Brest, Belarus, a city formerly known as Brest-Litovsk * Brest, Čučer-Sandevo, a village in North Macedonia * Brest, France, a city and harbour in Brittany * Brest, Germany, a municipality * Brest, Kyustendil Province ...
. The Route nationale 164 crosses the centre of the peninsula and connects
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
to Loudéac, Morlaix and Châteaulin, and the Route nationale 166 links
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
to
Vannes Vannes (; br, Gwened) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is w ...

Vannes
. The Route nationale 137 provides connections between Saint-Malo,
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
and
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
and terminates in Bordeaux.
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
is linked to Paris by the A11 autoroute, and
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
is both on the A81 autoroute to Paris and the A84 autoroute to Caen. These highways are standard French toll road.


Air

The biggest Breton airport is Nantes Atlantique Airport. Destination served include the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Ireland and Morocco. It will be replaced around 2017 by the new Aéroport du Grand Ouest, located 30 km to the north-west of Nantes. The Brest Bretagne Airport is the second airport in Brittany. It is followed by Rennes - Saint-Jacques Airport, Rennes – Saint-Jacques, Lorient South Brittany Airport, Lorient South Brittany and Dinard - Pleurtuit - Saint-Malo Airport, Dinard – Saint-Malo. The Saint-Brieuc - Armor Airport, Saint-Brieuc – Armor airport serves flights between Brittany and the Channel Islands. Others smaller airport operates domestic flights in Quimper - Cornouaille Airport, Quimper, and Lannion - Côte de Granit Airport, Lannion.


Rail

Brittany is on two major TGV lines, one linking Paris to
Nantes Nantes (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Naunnt'' or ''Nantt'' ; ) is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast. The city is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, sixth largest in F ...

Nantes
and Le Croisic, on the south coast, and another linking Paris to
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
and
Brest Brest may refer to: Places * Brest, Belarus, a city formerly known as Brest-Litovsk * Brest, Čučer-Sandevo, a village in North Macedonia * Brest, France, a city and harbour in Brittany * Brest, Germany, a municipality * Brest, Kyustendil Province ...
. The LGV Atlantique which stops at Le Mans will be extended to Rennes in 2017, providing faster connections between Paris and Brittany. TGV train services also link the region with cities such as Lyon, Strasbourg, Marseille, and Lille. Secondary train services are operated by TER Bretagne which provides connections between small towns such as
Vannes Vannes (; br, Gwened) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is w ...

Vannes
,
Carhaix Carhaix-Plouguer (; br, Karaez-Plougêr) is a Communes of France, commune in the Finistère Departments of France, department in western Brittany, France. Geography Carhaix is located in the Poher, an important territory of Brittany, sandwiched ...

Carhaix
, Roscoff and Paimpol. TER Bretagne also manages coach lines and connections between Rennes and Nantes. TER Pays de la Loire operates trains between Nantes and smaller towns in
Loire-Atlantique Loire-Atlantique (; br, Liger-Atlantel; formerly ''Loire-Inférieure'') is a department in Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire (; ) are one of the 18 regions of France France is Administrative divisions of France, divided into eighteen adm ...

Loire-Atlantique
.


Sea

There are ferry services that take passengers, vehicles and freight to Ireland, the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands. The main companies are Brittany Ferries which operates lines between Plymouth and Roscoff, Portsmouth and Saint-Malo, and Roscoff and Cork (city), Cork. Irish Ferries operates the route Rosslare Europort, Rosslare-Roscoff and Condor Ferries link Saint-Malo with Jersey.


Cycling

Cycling has always been one of the main sports of Brittany, but leisure cycling and the infrastructure to support it have been growing extremely rapidly. An extensive network of cycle paths and recommended cycle routes has opened up all over the region. Some of these are routes using mainly smaller roads and both signposted and maintained by communes individually, but many are based on dedicated cycle paths often formed by converting disused railway tracks. These help form routes such as 'Vélodyssée' from Roscoff to Nantes and several major routes under the 'V' label (following signs V1, V2 etc.). The old tow-path of the Nantes-Brest canal is now open to cyclists along its entire 385 km length though in places (unlike rail-based cycle paths) it is very meandering and leaving the path will both shorten the distance and provide variety. As a general rule cyclists are very well respected in the region and many larger towns have cycle-lanes – however traffic is 'cycle-friendly' even in their absence.


Symbols

The modern flag of Brittany was designed in 1923. It is called ''Gwenn ha Du'' ("white and black" in
Breton Breton most often refers to: *anything associated with Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part ...
) and it features eleven ermine (heraldry), ermine spots (their number may vary) and nine stripes, the black ones represent the Breton speaking historical dioceses, and the white ones symbolise the gallo language, gallo speaking dioceses. The flag was created to replace the traditional ermine plain standard, considered too aristocratic and royalist. It was inspired by the Flag of the United States, American flag and the British Red Ensign. Since the 1920s, the flag has become very popular and it is flown from a large number of institutions. Apart from the ermine flag, Breton historic banners include the Kroaz Du, a white flag with a black cross, the perfect negative of the St Piran's Flag, Cornish flag. The coat of arms of Brittany, ''ermine plain'', was adopted by John III, Duke of Brittany, John III in 1316. Ermine had been used in Brittany long before, and there is no clue about its origin. It was probably chosen by the dukes because of its similarity with the French fleur-de-lis. The ermine, or stoat, as an animal became the heraldic badge, badge of John IV, Duke of Brittany, John IV at the end of the 14th century. It appeared later on numerous locations, including churches and castles. According to popular traditions, Anne of Brittany was hunting with her court when she saw a white ermine who preferred to die than to cross a dirty marsh. This episode would have inspired the duchess' motto : ''"Potius mori quam foedari"'' ("rather death than dishonour"). The motto has later been reused by Breton regiments, local Resistance during World War II, World War II Resistants and cultural movements. The Breton anthem, although not official, is ''Bro Gozh ma Zadoù'' – ("Old Land of My Fathers"). It re-employs both the Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, Welsh anthem's music and that of "Bro Goth agan Tasow" (the national anthem of Cornwall; its lyrics were written at the end of the 19th century). Colloquial Breton emblems include the Celtic triskelion, the menhirs and dolmens, local dishes such as the galettes, the Bigouden headdress and the traditional black round hat, the fisherman and his yellow raincoat, etc. ''BZH'' is a common abbreviation for "Breizh" ("Brittany" in Breton) and people often put BZH stickers on their car-plates, although it is forbidden under French laws. ''.bzh'' is an approved Internet top level domain for the Breton people, Breton culture and languages.


Gallery

File:Tombeau Merlin Brocéliande195.JPG, Merlin's tomb in the Brocéliande forest, Paimpont forest, Paimpont File:Crucuno dolmen.jpg, A dolmen in Plouharnel File:Guerande Tor.jpg, The city wall of Guérande File:Tour-qui-qu-en-grogne-DS62.jpg, Castle of Saint-Malo, ''Qui Qu'en Grogne'' Tower File:Château Suscinio.jpg, Château de Suscinio File:Phare IleVerge PM.jpg, Île Vierge lighthouse File:Parlement de Bretagne-2006.jpg, Parlement of Brittany in
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical region, historical country, and c ...

Rennes
File:Abbacy and lighthouse of Saint-Mathieu.jpg, Abbey and lighthouse of Pointe Saint-Mathieu, Saint-Mathieu File:20 Moulin vert.JPG, ''Ar Meilhoù Glaz'', a Bagad from Quimper File:PLcdm 2009 S 028.JPG, ''Festival du chant de marin'', sea songs festival in Paimpol File:Batz-sur-Mer Coiffe.jpg, A Breton headdress from Batz-sur-Mer File:W. Otway Cannell 8 Modern Brittany.jpg, Modern Brittany - Illustration from Legends & Romances of Brittany by Lewis Spence, illustrated by W. Otway Cannell.


See also

* Brigantes, Breton Celtic tribe associated with Northern England * Politics of Brittany


Notes


References


External links


Brittany : in the West, the end of the world
– Official French website (in English) *
The official site for Brittany Tourism – Brittany Regional Tourist BoardThe official ''Région Bretagne'' website
{{Authority control Brittany, Celtic nations Members of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization Peninsulas of France