Vannetais love poem
Ha skéden ér miloér
Zou me guerzen braùan
Mes hast béan, é ma é vonet diar uél
Me «sot on genis» devéhan é.
→ French poem ←
Vannetais & short story of Brittany
Vannetais (Gwenedeg) is the Breton dialect of the Vannes region (south of Lower Brittany). There are notable differences with the dialect of Leon, which serves as standard. The influence of the neighboring oil tongue, gallo, is a little more important in this south-eastern part of Lower Brittany. Historically this Breton dialect was spoken in some municipalities of Finistère and Loire-Atlantique and in a large part of Morbihan.
It is the north of Armorica that would have received the most refugees, they would not have come until later in the south, including Vannes. This is probably the reason that explains the difference between Vannetais and the other variants of Breton. Vannetais would be closer to continental Celtic than to that brought by migrations.
15 million years ago Armorica is an island which benefits from a tropical climate on which the flora and fauna thrive. The surrounding sea, the sea of Faluns is a warm and shallow sea, a privileged area for rays, sharks and megalodons... it covers a large part of our current Brittany. This sea of Faluns, rich in shells, will let important sedimentary deposits when it will retire.
From -10,000 to -1800 the climate changes and the steppe gives way to oak, pine and birch forests. From hunting and gathering the way of life becomes agricultural with livestock that are raised. This change in the way of life, whether cause or consequence, imposes, a sedentary lifestyle, the first villages and the imposing megaliths, dolmens, menhirs, cairns, alignments and tumulus.
Around 1500 BC, the Celts, who originated in Central Asia, migrated to Europe as far as the shores of the Atlantic. They occupy Gaul (Gallia, Celtia), then around -800 with the Gaels (Goidels), the island of Pritain (Pritania, nowadays Great Britain). Two centuries later, other Celts, the Brittons arrive on this island of Pritania and drive out the Gaels to Ireland.
All these Celts speak very similar languages which come from an old Celtic which is unknown to us. The latest research suggests the close proximity between Gaulish and Brittonic.
Later we know that the Romans and Julius Caesar, defeat in the gulf of Morbihan the Gallic fleet of the Venetes, Namnetes and other allies, Leonese, Trecorenses, Diablinthes. Gallic ships, however, used to the Atlantic, will be defeated by those of the Romans, a weak wind favoring the rowing propulsion of the Roman galleys.
The various provinces conquered by the Romans in Armorica, as in Great Britain, are then governed by suzerains recognizing the Roman domination.
The first builders in the Gallo-Roman era used the stone of the faluns (the gauge), a sedimentary rock... let's mention for example the ocher villages of Saint-Juvat and Tréfumel.
During this Gallo-Roman period, the very hierarchical society was primarily agricultural, but its crafts and trade were obviously very dynamic. The traces found show know-how and wealth in the construction of villas and monuments. An "industry" linked to salt has been spreading throughout the continent for a long time.
At the end of the 4th century, Maxime marries the daughter of the King of Trinovante (London). He runs into Conan Meriadech, the nephew of the latter, who is also fighting for the crown. Finally both of them join forces, because Maxime, who wants Gratien's imperial power, offers him a part of the empire. Conan brings together many Breton volunteers who land in Armorica. For Gratien it is already too late, and after Rennes, Nantes is conquered. This conquest is lived as a liberation from the yoke of Rome, which crushes these cities, under too heavy tributes.
Maxime leaves to Conan the crown to direct Armorica (Brittany, part of Anjou, Poitou, Touraine and Berri). Conan, like Maxime, and after him, settles to Nantes. After having traveled his kingdom and listened to his subjects, he enacts a code taking into account their customs. Conan wants to marry the daughter of Dionote, who reigns over London, but she perishes during the trip. He will marry Daréréa, born in Britainy. At his death, he will be buried at St Pol de Leon. The dukes of Brittany, including Anne, will reclaim of his lineage.
It should be noted that it is not known whether the story of Conan is myth or reality. Frankish historians like Gregory of Tours, for example, do not mention it.
Anyways, and this is better known: At the end of the 5th century, driven by climate change, the Saxons invaded Great Britain to settle there. They kill to make room! Also the Celts, especially the Britons of Cornwall and Wales, have no choice but to emigrate, to seek refuge near their cousins in Armorica, especially since on the west side the Scots in Ireland are also pressing them.
They emigrate in large numbers to a less dense Armorica. Hoel, from Rennes, who is in charge of Little Britain, let them to come, so one of the chiefs of these emigrants takes the title of king. So the peninsula is divided into two kingdoms, this of Brittany, and that of Donnonée, composed of a portion of the Leones, the dioceses of Treguier and Saint-Brieuc. However the king of Donnonée recognizes the supremacy of the king of Brittany.
It was in the Middle Ages that the name de Bretagne replaced that of Armorique. To prevent the incursions of such an influx of island Bretons, the kingdom of the Franks protects itself with a buffer zone, the Marches of Brittany (Nantes, Vannes and Rennes). There are built imposing castles and fortresses as well as an exchange network for trade. Wars with the Franks follow one another around the "Marches of Brittany".
In the 9th century, Charles the bald, with Franks and Saxons, opposes to Nominoë, then to his son Erispoé. Both will beat him twice, at the Battle of the Balloon, then at the Battle of Jengland. Charles the Bald is then committed to recognize Britain and its borders, which include the regions of Rennes, Nantes and Retz, all Breton lands.
Around the 10th century the Vikings ravaged Brittany, which led to the development of a feudal system. They will occupy it for about twenty years but will be driven out by Alain Barbetorte who in 938 takes the title of Duke of Brittany.
It is in the 16th century, after the death of Anne of Brittany the Nantaise, successive wife of Charles VIII and Louis XII, that Brittany will become French (1532).
Literary Breton - Leonard - Gwennraneg - Scottish - Gaulish - Tregerieg - Irish - Welsh - Cornish - Manx