Bretons

Last updated
Bretons
Bretons (French)
Bretoned/Breizhiz (Breton)
Roderic O'Conor - Une Jeune Bretone.jpg
Une Jeune Bretonne ("A young Breton woman"), painting by Roderic O'Conor
Total population
c.6–8 million
Regions with significant populations
Flag of France.svg  France 6–7 million
    Flag of Brittany (Gwenn ha du).svg  Brittany 3,318,904 [1]  · [note 1]
              Loire-Atlantique 1,394,909 [2]  · [note 2]
    IDF flag.svg  Île-de-France 1,500,000 [3]
              Le Havre 70,000 [4]
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada (predominantly Flag of Quebec.svg  Quebec)14,290 [5]
Languages
French, Breton, Gallo
Religion
Predominantly Roman Catholic
Related ethnic groups
Celts: Britons ( Cornish, English and Welsh ) and Gaels ( Irish, Manx and Scots ) [6]

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

Contents

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

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

A strong historical emigration has created a Breton diaspora within the French borders and in the overseas departments and territories of France; it is mainly established in the Paris area, where more than one million people claim Breton heritage. Many Breton families have also emigrated to the Americas, predominantly to Canada (mostly Quebec and Atlantic Canada) and the United States. The only places outside Brittany that still retain significant Breton customs are in Île-de-France (mainly Le Quartier du Montparnasse in Paris), Le Havre and in Îles des Saintes, where a group of Breton families settled in the mid-17th century.

History

The Brittonic-speaking community around the sixth century. The sea was a communication medium rather than a barrier. Britonia6hcentury.png
The Brittonic-speaking community around the sixth century. The sea was a communication medium rather than a barrier.

Late Roman era

In the late fourth century, large numbers of British auxiliary troops in the Roman army may have been stationed in Armorica. The ninth-century Historia Brittonum states that the emperor Magnus Maximus, who withdrew Roman forces from Britain, settled his troops in the province.

Nennius and Gildas mention a second wave of Britons settling in Armorica in the following century to escape the invading Anglo-Saxons and Scoti. Modern archaeology also supports a two-wave migration. [12]

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

There are numerous records of Celtic Christian missionaries migrating from Britain during the second wave of Breton colonisation, especially the legendary seven founder-saints of Brittany as well as Gildas.

As in Cornwall, many Breton towns are named after these early saints. The Irish saint Columbanus was also active in Brittany and is commemorated at Saint-Columban in Carnac.

Early Middle Ages

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

Breton participation in the Norman Conquest of England

Bretons were the most prominent of the non-Norman forces in the Norman conquest of England. A number of Breton families were of the highest rank in the new society and were tied to the Normans by marriage. [13]

The Scottish Clan Stewart and the royal House of Stuart have Breton origins. Alan Rufus, also known as Alan the Red, was both a cousin and knight in the retinue of William the Conqueror. Following his service at Hastings, he was rewarded with large estates in Yorkshire. At the time of his death, he was by far the richest noble in England. His manorial holding at Richmond ensured a Breton presence in northern England. The Earldom of Richmond later became an appanage of the Dukes of Brittany.

Modern Breton identity

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

Many people throughout France claim Breton ethnicity, including a few French celebrities such as Marion Cotillard, [14] Suliane Brahim, [15] Malik Zidi, [16] Patrick Poivre d'Arvor, Yoann Gourcuff, Nolwenn Leroy and Yann Tiersen. [17]

After 15 years of disputes in the French courts, the European Court of Justice recognized Breton Nationality for the six children of Jean-Jacques and Mireille Manrot-Le Goarnig; they are "European Citizens of Breton Nationality". [18] In 2015, Jonathan Le Bris started a legal battle against the French administration to claim this status.

Breton diaspora

The Breton diaspora includes Breton immigrants in some cities of France like Paris, Le Havre and Toulon, Breton Canadians and Breton Americans, along with other French immigrants in other parts of the Americas.

Culture

Religion

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

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

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

Pardons

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

Tro Breizh

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

Folklore and traditional belief

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

Language

Regional statistics of Breton speakers, in 2004 Percentage of breton speakers in the breton countries in 2004.png
Regional statistics of Breton speakers, in 2004
A Breton speaker, recorded in the United States.

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

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

From 1880 to the mid-20th century, Breton was banned from the French school system and children were punished for speaking it in a similar way to which English, not Welsh, was used in Welsh schools during the 18th and early 19th centuries. The situation changed in 1951 with the Deixonne Law allowing Breton language and culture to be taught 1–3 hours a week in the public school system on the proviso that a teacher was both able and prepared to do so. In modern times, a number of schools and colleges have emerged with the aim of providing Breton-medium education or bilingual Breton/French education. [21]

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

Breton-language media

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

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

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

Music

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

Fest-noz

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

Traditional dance

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

Traditional Breton music

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

Modern Breton music

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

Breton cuisine

Chouchen Chouchenn mead of Brittany.jpg
Chouchen

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

Symbols of Brittany

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

See also

Images of Brittany

Notes

  1. Legal population of the administrative region of Brittany in 2017
  2. Legal population of Loire-Atlantique in 2017

Related Research Articles

Breton language Celtic language spoken in France

Breton is a Southwestern Brittonic language of the Celtic language family spoken in Brittany, modern-day France. It is the only Celtic language still in use on the European mainland.

Brittany Historical province in France

Brittany is a peninsula, historical country, and cultural area in the west of modern France, covering the western part of what was known as Armorica during the period of Roman occupation. It became an independent kingdom and then a duchy before being united with the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province governed as a separate nation under the crown.

Brittany (administrative region) Administrative region of France

Brittany is the farthest west of the regions of Metropolitan France. It is covers about four-fifths of the territory of the historic province of Brittany. Its capital is Rennes. It is one of the two Regions in Metropolitan France that does not contain any landlocked departments, the other being Corsica.

Côtes-dArmor Department of France

The Côtes-d'Armor, formerly known as Côtes-du-Nord, are a department in the north of Brittany, in northwestern France.

Since the early 1970s, Brittany has experienced a tremendous revival of its folk music. Along with flourishing traditional forms such as the bombard-biniou pair and fest-noz ensembles incorporating other additional instruments, it has also branched out into numerous subgenres.

Gallo language Regional language of France

Gallo is a regional language of eastern Brittany. It is one of the langues d'oïl, a Romance sub-family that includes French. Today it is spoken only by a minority of the population, as the standard form of French now predominates in this area.

Vannes Prefecture and commune in Brittany, France

Vannes is a commune in the Morbihan department in Brittany in north-western France. It was founded over 2,000 years ago.

The history of Brittany may refer to the entire history of the Armorican peninsula or only to the creation and development of a specifically Brythonic culture and state in the Early Middle Ages and the subsequent history of that state.

Fest Noz

A Fest Noz is a Breton traditional festival, with dancing in groups and live musicians playing acoustic instruments.

Tro Breizh is a Catholic pilgrimage that links the towns of the seven founding saints of Brittany. These seven saints were Celtic monks from Britain from around the 5th or 6th century who brought Christianity to Armorica and founded its first bishoprics.

The culture of Brittany is made up of Breton culture, and Celtic culture. Brittany's strongest international connections tend to be in the United Kingdom, particularly in the Celtic groups of Cornwall and Wales, and in Canada.

Bombard (music)

The bombard is a contemporary conical-bore double-reed instrument widely used to play traditional Breton music. The bombard is a woodwind instrument, and a member of the shawm family. Like most shawms, it has a broad and very powerful sound, vaguely resembling a trumpet. It is played as other shawms are played, with the double reed placed between the lips. The second octave is 'over-blown'; achieved via increased lip and air pressure or through the use of an octave key. It plays a diatonic scale of up to two octaves, although contemporary instruments frequently have added keywork permitting some degree of chromaticism. A bombard player is known as a talabarder after 'talabard', the older Breton name for the bombard.

Gwened, Bro-Gwened or Vannetais is a historic realm and county of Brittany in France. It is considered part of Lower Brittany.

AberFest is a Celtic cultural festival celebrating all things Cornish and Breton that takes place every second year in Cornwall, UK, around Easter. The AberFest Festival alternates with the Breizh – Kernow Festival which is held in Brandivy or Bignan in Brittany, alternating between those two Breton locations.

Xavier de Langlais

Xavier de Langlais was a Breton painter, printmaker and writer. He usually signed his work with the name Langleiz, a Breton language version of his surname.

Breton dance

Breton dance is a group of traditional dance forms originating in Brittany, the Celtic region of France. The dance has experienced a reappropriation in the late 1950s, with the development of the Celtic Circles and Fest Noz.

Les Ramoneurs de menhirs

Les Ramoneurs de menhirs is a Breton Celtic punk group formed in 2006. Its members include Éric Gorce on the bombardon, Richard Bévillon on the bagpipes, the traditional vannetais singer Gwenaël Kere and Loran, guitarist from the group Bérurier Noir. They play concerts at fest noz as well as normal rock concerts. Most of their songs are sung in the Breton language.

Upper Brittany Eastern portion of Brittany

Upper Brittany is the eastern part of Brittany, France, which is predominantly of a Romance culture and is associated with the Gallo language. The name is in counterpoint to Lower Brittany, the western part of the ancient province and present-day region, where the Breton language has traditionally been spoken. However, there is no certainty as to exactly where the line between 'Upper' and 'Lower' Brittany falls.

Festival de Cornouaille

The Festival de Cornouaille is an annual festival taking place in the city of Quimper, located in the south-west of Brittany (France) in July. The festival has been held since 1923 and is one of the biggest cultural events in Brittany.

Andrea Ar Gouilh Musical artist

Andrée Le Gouil, known by her stage name Andrea Ar Gouilh, is a French singer.

References

  1. "Populations légales des régions en 2017". INSEE. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  2. "Populations légales des départements en 2017". INSEE. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  3. Rolland, Michel. "La Bretagne à Paris". Archived from the original on 2016-11-30. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  4. "Ils sont 70 000 ! Notre dossier sur les Bretons du Havre". Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  5. 2011 National Household Survey; includes 4,770 people of single and 9,525 of mixed Breton origin.
  6. Ed. Wade Davis and K. David Harrison (2007). Book of Peoples of the World. National Geographic Society. p. 225. ISBN   978-1-4262-0238-4.
  7. Wells, John C. (2008). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.). Longman. ISBN   978-1-4058-8118-0.
  8. Minahan, James (2000). One Europe, Many Nations: A Historical Dictionary of European National Groups. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 179. ISBN   0313309841. The Cornish are related to the other Celtic peoples of Europe, the Bretons,* Irish,* Scots,* Manx,* Welsh,* and the Galicians* of northwestern Spain
  9. Koch, John (2005). Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABL-CIO. p. 275. ISBN   978-1-85109-440-0 . Retrieved September 29, 2012.
  10. "Breton". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-06-09.
  11. "Breton Language" . Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  12. Léon Fleuriot, Les origines de la Bretagne: l’émigration, Paris, Payot, 1980.
  13. Keats-Rohan 1991, The Bretons and Normans of England 1066-1154 Archived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine
  14. "Marion Cotillard: 'Before my family, everything was dedicated to the character'". The Guardian . August 2, 2014.
  15. "Suliane Brahim, le Grand Jeu". Libération. February 28, 2018.
  16. ifrance.com Archived August 27, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  17. "Yann Tiersen: ∞ (Infinity) & the Origin of Its Language" . Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  18. "Goarnig Kozh a livré son dernier combat" . Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  19. Bretagne: poems (in French), by Amand Guérin, published by P. Masgana, 1842: page 238.
  20. "Breton language" . Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  21. 1 2 3 "Breton language, alphabet and pronunciation" . Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  22. Allanv.microopen.org Archived May 9, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  23. "Al Liamm - Degemer" . Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  24. Pierre Le Baud, Cronicques & Ystoires des Bretons.

Bibliography

Breizh.net – a non-profit association dedicated to the promotion of Brittany and the Breton language on the Internet Breizh.net