Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Armorica

Armorica

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Armorica'
Start a new discussion about 'Armorica'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Armorica or Aremorica is the name given in ancient times to the part of Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 that includes the Brittany peninsula
Peninsula
A peninsula is a piece of land that is bordered by water on three sides but connected to mainland. In many Germanic and Celtic languages and also in Baltic, Slavic and Hungarian, peninsulas are called "half-islands"....

 and the territory between the Seine
Seine
The Seine is a -long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Saint-Seine near Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre . It is navigable by ocean-going vessels...

 and Loire rivers, extending inland to an indeterminate point and down the Atlantic coast. The toponym is based on the Gaulish phrase are-mori "on/at [the] sea", made into the Gaulish place name Aremorica (*are-mor-ika ) "Place by the Sea". The suffix -ika was first used to create adjectival forms and then, names (See regions as Pays d'Ouche
Pays d'Ouche
The Pays d'Ouche is an historical and geographical region in Normandy. It extends from the southwest of Évreux up to Bernay and Beaumont-le-Roger as a northern limit, and down to L'Aigle and to Gacé in the south....

 < Utica, Perche
Perche
Perche is a former province of northern France extending over the départements of Orne, Eure, Eure-et-Loir and Sarthe, which were created from Perche during the French Revolution.-Geography:...

 < Pertica ). The original designation was vague, including a large part of what became Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 in the 10th century and, in some interpretations, the whole of the coast down to the Pyrenees. Later, the term became restricted to Brittany.

In Breton
Breton language
Breton is a Celtic language spoken in Brittany , France. Breton is a Brythonic language, descended from the Celtic British language brought from Great Britain to Armorica by migrating Britons during the Early Middle Ages. Like the other Brythonic languages, Welsh and Cornish, it is classified as...

 (which with Welsh
Welsh language
Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa...

 and Cornish
Cornish language
Cornish is a Brythonic Celtic language and a recognised minority language of the United Kingdom. Along with Welsh and Breton, it is directly descended from the ancient British language spoken throughout much of Britain before the English language came to dominate...

 belongs to the Brythonic
Brythonic languages
The Brythonic or Brittonic languages form one of the two branches of the Insular Celtic language family, the other being Goidelic. The name Brythonic was derived by Welsh Celticist John Rhys from the Welsh word Brython, meaning an indigenous Briton as opposed to an Anglo-Saxon or Gael...

 branch of Insular Celtic languages
Insular Celtic languages
Insular Celtic languages are those Celtic languages that originated in the British Isles, in contrast to the Continental Celtic languages of mainland Europe and Anatolia. All surviving Celtic languages are from the Insular Celtic group; the Continental Celtic languages are extinct...

), "on [the] sea" is war vor (Welsh ar for), though the older form arvor is used to refer to the coastal regions of Brittany, in contrast to argoad (ar "on/at", coad "forest" [Welsh ar goed (coed "forest")] for the inland regions. These cognate modern usages suggest that the Romans first contacted coastal people in the inland region and assumed that the regional name Aremorica referred to the whole area, both coastal and inland.

Ancient Armorica



Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

, in his Natural History (2.17.105), claims that Armorica was the older name for Aquitania
Aquitaine
Aquitaine , archaic Guyenne/Guienne , is one of the 27 regions of France, in the south-western part of metropolitan France, along the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees mountain range on the border with Spain. It comprises the 5 departments of Dordogne, :Lot et Garonne, :Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes...

, stating Armorica's southern boundary extended to the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

. Taking into account the Gaulish origin of the name, this is perfectly correct and logical, as Aremorica is not a 'country name', but a word that describes a type of geographical region - a region that is by the sea. Pliny lists the following Celtic tribes as living in the area: the Aedui
Aedui
Aedui, Haedui or Hedui , were a Gallic people of Gallia Lugdunensis, who inhabited the country between the Arar and Liger , in today's France. Their territory thus included the greater part of the modern departments of Saône-et-Loire, Côte-d'Or and Nièvre.-Geography:The country of the Aedui is...

 and Carnuteni as having treaties with Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

; the Meldi
Meaux
Meaux is a commune in the Seine-et-Marne department in the Île-de-France region in the metropolitan area of Paris, France. It is located east-northeast from the center of Paris. Meaux is a sub-prefecture of the department and the seat of an arondissement...

 and Secusiani
Segusiavi
The Segusiavi were a Celtic tribe of Gaul, whose fortress was located at Lugdunum .The name "Segusiavi" may have been an alternative name of the "Segobriges" who were legendarily involved with Greeks in pre-Roman Gaul and the foundation myth of Massalia....

 as having some measure of independence; and the Boii
Boii
The Boii were one of the most prominent ancient Celtic tribes of the later Iron Age, attested at various times in Cisalpine Gaul , Pannonia , in and around Bohemia, and Transalpine Gaul...

, Senones
Senones
The Senones were an ancient Gaulish tribe.In about 400 BC they crossed the Alps and, having driven out the Umbrians settled on the east coast of Italy from Forlì to Ancona, in the so-called ager Gallicus, and founded the town of Sena Gallica , which became their capital. In 391 BC they invaded...

, Aulerci
Aulerci
Aulerci is a generic name for some of the Celtic peoples of ancient Gaul, which included several Celtic tribes. Julius Caesar names the Aulerci with the Veneti and the other maritime states. In B. G. vii...

 (both the Eburovices
Eburovices
The Eburovices, or Eburovici, were a Gallic tribe, a branch of the Aulerci. They are mentioned by Julius Caesar with the Lexovii. Pliny speaks of the Aulerci, qui cognominantur Eburovices, et qui Cenomani. Ptolemy makes the extend from the Ligeris to the Sequana , which is not true...

 and Cenomani
Cenomani
The Cenomani or Aulerci Cenomani were a Gallic people, a branch of the Aulerci in Gallia Celtica, whose territory corresponded generally to Maine in the modern départment of Sarthe, west of the Carnutes between the Seine and the Loire...

), the Parisii, Tricasses
Tricasses
The Tricasses were a Gallic tribe which lived along the Seine in what is now Champagne. They gave their name to Troyes, which bore the name Augustobona during the Roman period and served as the capital of the Tricasses. Administratively they were attached to Gallia Lugdunensis...

, Andicavi, Viducasses
Viducasses
The Viducasses or Viducassii were a Celtic people in Gallia Lugdunensis. The name derives from vidu and casse . The capital of the Viducasses was at Araegenus or Araegenue of the Table, appearing elsewhere as Aragenuae, which was the site of modern-day Vieux.Pliny mentions them before the...

, Bodiocasses
Baiocasses
The Baiocasses were a Celtic tribe in ancient Gaul. They were a tribal division of the civitas of the Lexovii, in the Roman province of Gallia Lugdunensis....

, Veneti
Veneti (Gaul)
The Veneti were a seafaring Celtic people who lived in the Brittany peninsula , which in Roman times formed part of an area called Armorica...

, Coriosvelites, Diablinti, Rhedones, Turones
Turones
The Turones were a Celtic tribe of pre-Roman Gaul. They gave their name to the French town Tours.For their exploits in the medieval mythologies concerning Brutus of Troy, see Goffar the Pict....

, and the Atseui.

Trade between Armorica and Britain, described by Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

 and implied by Pliny was long-established. Because, even after the campaign of Publius Crassus
Publius Licinius Crassus (son of triumvir)
Publius Licinius Crassus was one of two sons of the triumvir Marcus Licinius Crassus and Tertulla. He belonged to the last generation of Roman nobiles who came of age and began a political career before the collapse of the Republic...

 in 57 BC, continued resistance to Roman rule in Armorica was still being supported by Celtic aristocrats in Britain
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

, Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 led two invasions of Britain in 55 and 54 in response. Some hint of the complicated cultural web that bound Armorica and the Britanniae (the "Britains" of Pliny) is given by Caesar when he describes Diviciacus
Diviciacus (Suessiones)
Diviciacus or Divitiacus was a king of the Belgic nation of the Suessiones in the early 1st century BC. Julius Caesar, writing in the mid-1st century BC, says that he had within living memory been the most powerful king in Gaul, ruling a large portion not only of Gallia Belgica, but also of...

 of the Suessiones
Suessiones
The Suessiones were a Belgic tribe of Western Belgium in the 1st century BC, inhabiting the region between the Oise and the Marne, based around the present-day city of Soissons...

, as "the most powerful ruler in the whole of Gaul, who had control not only over a large area of this region but also of Britain" Archaeological sites along the south coast of England, notably at Hengistbury Head
Hengistbury Head
Hengistbury Head is a headland jutting into the English Channel between Bournemouth and Milford on Sea in the English county of Dorset.At the end is a spit which creates the narrow entrance to Christchurch Harbour.-Location:...

, show connections with Armorica as far east as the Solent
Solent
The Solent is a strait separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England.The Solent is a major shipping route for passengers, freight and military vessels. It is an important recreational area for water sports, particularly yachting, hosting the Cowes Week sailing event annually...

. This 'prehistoric' connection of Cornwall and Brittany set the stage for the link that continued into the medieval era. Still farther East, however, the typical Continental connections of the Britannic coast were with the lower Seine valley instead.
Archeology has not yet been as enlightening in Iron-Age Armorica as the coinage, which has been surveyed by Philip de Jersey.

Under the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, Armorica was administered as part of the province of Gallia Lugdunensis
Gallia Lugdunensis
Gallia Lugdunensis was a province of the Roman Empire in what is now the modern country of France, part of the Celtic territory of Gaul. It is named after its capital Lugdunum , possibly Roman Europe's major city west of Italy, and a major imperial mint...

, which had its capital in Lugdunum
Lugdunum
Colonia Copia Claudia Augusta Lugdunum was an important Roman city in Gaul. The city was founded in 43 BC by Lucius Munatius Plancus. It served as the capital of the Roman province Gallia Lugdunensis. To 300 years after its foundation Lugdunum was the most important city to the west part of Roman...

, (modern day Lyon
Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

s). When the Roman province
Roman province
In Ancient Rome, a province was the basic, and, until the Tetrarchy , largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside of Italy...

s were reorganized in the 4th century, Armorica (Tractus Armoricanus et Nervicanus) was placed under the second and third divisions of Lugdunensis. After the legions retreated from Britannia (407) the local elite there expelled the civilian magistrates in the following year; Armorica too rebelled in the 430s and again in the 440s, throwing out the ruling officials, as the Romano-Britons had done. At the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains in 451 a Roman coalition led by General Flavius Aetius
Flavius Aëtius
Flavius Aëtius , dux et patricius, was a Roman general of the closing period of the Western Roman Empire. He was an able military commander and the most influential man in the Western Roman Empire for two decades . He managed policy in regard to the attacks of barbarian peoples pressing on the Empire...

 and the Visigothic King Theodoric I
Theodoric I
Theodoric I sometimes called Theodorid and in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian Teodorico, was the King of the Visigoths from 418 to 451. An illegitimate son of Alaric, Theodoric is famous for defeating Attila at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains in 451, where he was mortally wounded.-Early...

 clashed violently with the Hunnic alliance commanded by King Attila the Hun
Attila the Hun
Attila , more frequently referred to as Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in 453. He was leader of the Hunnic Empire, which stretched from the Ural River to the Rhine River and from the Danube River to the Baltic Sea. During his reign he was one of the most feared...

. Jordanes
Jordanes
Jordanes, also written Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat, who turned his hand to history later in life....

 lists Aëtius' allies as including Armoricans and other Celtic or German tribes (Getica 36.191).

The "Armorican" peninsula came to be settled with Britons from Britain during the poorly documented period of the 5th-7th centuries. Even in distant Byzantium Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

 heard tales of migrations to the Frankish mainland from the island, largely legendary for him, of Brittia
Brittia
Brittia according to Procopius was an island he considered to be known to the inhabitants of the Low Countries under Frankish rule , corresponding both to a real island used for burial and a mythological Isle of the Blessed, to which the souls of the dead are transported.Procopius's Brittia lies...

. These settlers, whether refugees or not, made the presence felt of their coherent groups in the naming of the westernmost, Atlantic-facing provinces of Armorica, Cornouaille
Cornouaille
Cornouaille is a historic region in Brittany, in northwest France. The name is identical to the French name for the Duchy of Cornwall, since the area was settled by migrant princes from Cornwall...

 ("Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

") and Domnonea ("Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

"). These settlements are associated with leaders like Saints Samson of Dol
Samson of Dol
Saint Samson of Dol was a Christian religious figure who is counted among the seven founder saints of Brittany. Born in southern Wales, he died in Dol-de-Bretagne, a small town in north Brittany.-Life:...

 and Pol Aurelian, among the "founder saints" of Brittany.

The linguistic origins of Breton are clear: it is a Brythonic language
Brythonic languages
The Brythonic or Brittonic languages form one of the two branches of the Insular Celtic language family, the other being Goidelic. The name Brythonic was derived by Welsh Celticist John Rhys from the Welsh word Brython, meaning an indigenous Briton as opposed to an Anglo-Saxon or Gael...

 descended from the Celtic
Celtic languages
The Celtic languages are descended from Proto-Celtic, or "Common Celtic"; a branch of the greater Indo-European language family...

 British language, like Welsh
Welsh language
Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa...

 and Cornish
Cornish language
Cornish is a Brythonic Celtic language and a recognised minority language of the United Kingdom. Along with Welsh and Breton, it is directly descended from the ancient British language spoken throughout much of Britain before the English language came to dominate...

 one of the Insular Celtic languages
Insular Celtic languages
Insular Celtic languages are those Celtic languages that originated in the British Isles, in contrast to the Continental Celtic languages of mainland Europe and Anatolia. All surviving Celtic languages are from the Insular Celtic group; the Continental Celtic languages are extinct...

, brought by these migrating Britons. Still, questions of the relations between the Celtic cultures of Britain— Cornish
Cornish language
Cornish is a Brythonic Celtic language and a recognised minority language of the United Kingdom. Along with Welsh and Breton, it is directly descended from the ancient British language spoken throughout much of Britain before the English language came to dominate...

 and Welsh
Welsh language
Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa...

— and Celtic Breton
Breton language
Breton is a Celtic language spoken in Brittany , France. Breton is a Brythonic language, descended from the Celtic British language brought from Great Britain to Armorica by migrating Britons during the Early Middle Ages. Like the other Brythonic languages, Welsh and Cornish, it is classified as...

 are far from settled. Martin Henig (2003) suggests that in Armorica as in sub-Roman Britain
Sub-Roman Britain
Sub-Roman Britain is a term derived from an archaeological label for the material culture of Britain in Late Antiquity: the term "Sub-Roman" was invented to describe the potsherds in sites of the 5th century and the 6th century, initially with an implication of decay of locally-made wares from a...

,
"there was a fair amount of creation of identity in the migration period
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

. We know that the mixed, but largely British and Frankish population of Kent repackaged themselves as 'Jutes
Jutes
The Jutes, Iuti, or Iutæ were a Germanic people who, according to Bede, were one of the three most powerful Germanic peoples of their time, the other two being the Saxons and the Angles...

', and the largely British populations in the lands east of Dumnonia (Devon and Cornwall) seem to have ended up as 'West Saxons'. In western Armorica the small elite which managed to impose an identity on the population happened to be British rather than 'Gallo-Roman' in origin, so they became Bretons. The process may have been essentially the same."
According to C.E.V. Nixon, the collapse of Roman power and the depredations of the Visigoths led Armorica to act "like a magnet to peasants, coloni, slaves and the hard-pressed" who deserted other Roman territories, further weakening them. This flux of shifting self-identification in the Early Middle Ages, characterizes the modern view, which is supplementing traditional assertions of continuity from the Iron Age.

When Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

s or Northmen settled in the Cotentin peninsula and the lower Seine around Rouen
Rouen
Rouen , in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages...

 in the ninth and early tenth centuries, and these regions came to be known as Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

, the name Armorica fell out of use in the area. With western Armorica having already evolved into Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

, the east was recast from a Frankish viewpoint as the Breton March under a Frankish marquis
Marquis
Marquis is a French and Scottish title of nobility. The English equivalent is Marquess, while in German, it is Markgraf.It may also refer to:Persons:...

.

Armorica popularized in contemporary culture


The home village of the fictional comic-book hero Asterix
Asterix
Asterix or The Adventures of Asterix is a series of French comic books written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo . The series first appeared in French in the magazine Pilote on October 29, 1959...

 was located in Armorica during the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

; there, "indomitable Gauls" hold out against Rome. The unnamed village was reported as having been discovered by archaeologists in a spoof article in the British The Independent newspaper on April Fool's Day, 1993.
North Armorica is mentioned in the first sentence of James Joyce
James Joyce
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

's novel Finnegans Wake
Finnegans Wake
Finnegans Wake is a novel by Irish author James Joyce, significant for its experimental style and resulting reputation as one of the most difficult works of fiction in the English language. Written in Paris over a period of seventeen years, and published in 1939, two years before the author's...

.

External links