Ancient Brittany was inhabited by the Celtic Tribes of Veneti, Curiovolitae, and the Asismii in the 3rd century BC. At this time, Brittany was known as Armorica. It was the Romans that renamed the region Britannia Minor. However, the region's current name can primarily be attributed to the Roman General Maximus, who brought over 6,000 Britons under their leader Prince Conan, son of the King of Wales and Albany as he left Britain in the 4th century. Further immigrants from Wales and Cornwall occupied the region in the 5th and 6th region. From these people came Constantine, King of Brittany, who, it is said, was the grandfather of the celebrated King Arthur of England. The Celtic Breton language is still spoken today in the western reaches of the land.
In the 6th century, Brittany began its many associations with other states and sovereigns as the Dukes of Brittany also became the Counts of Cornwall in the south west of England. In the 9th century, the Dukes of Anjou, neighbors to the south, married the Princesses of Brittany. Then, in the 10th century, the Dukes of Brittany also married into the house of the Dukes of Normandie (Normandy), and Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany married Hawise, daughter of Richard II, Duke of Normandie, in 1002.
These various associations helped lead to the conflict between the Kings of England and the Kings of France for absolute rule over Brittany. When William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy, became King of England in 1066 he claimed Brittany and Normandy as possessions of the English crown. This English possession of continental lands increased when King Henry of England married Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152, thereby acquiring most of north and western France. However, in 1365, Brittany renewed relations with France, and was finally annexed by the French Crown in 1532, and reverted to a duchy.
- ^ Swyrich, Archive materials