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As the Romans had people from overpopulated Cornwalls and Wales, on the isle of Brittany, settle in a insufficiently populated Brittany, the falling Roman empire was obliged in 411 to let the island to its fate. It was the target, in the 5th century A.D., of raids by the Picts of Scotland and the Irishmen against Wales and eventually -and mostly- the settlement, since about 450 A.D., in the East of the country, of the incoming Germanic Angles and Saxons. That led to a massive immigration outwards. Large part of the inhabitants -mostly from Cornwalls and Devon, fled to continental Brittany and its possessions in the Cotentin peninsula. Britons of the island settled there about 460 A.D., and giving a new Christian and Celtic life to the area, which was renamed 'Britannia Minor,' 'the small Brittany,' which eventually became 'Brittany' alone. Although deprived of any political unity, the Celts of Brittany, during the 7th century, eventually formed 3 small kingdoms -Cornouaille, Domonée, and Léon- as a mean to get stronger against the emerging Frankish kingdom. A fourth kingdom, the Vannetais, added to the previous as its leader took the city of Nantes from the Franks

Pippin the Short, then Charlemagne as they were reorganizing the Frankish dominions, just wanted to stop the raids of the Britons. Pippin led a raid in 753, as Charlemagne -through the senechal Audulf- one in 786. Brittany was eventually conquered in 798-799 by count Gui. Brittany however remained mainly independent because it was uncontrolable due to numerous rebellions. In 801 and 811, Charlemagne was obliged to new expeditions, as in 818, 824, and 837, new revolts led Louis the Pious to intervene too. It is the kingdom of the Vannetais which led the fight against the Franks. One of its kings, Wiomarc'h, lost his life in 824. To definitively regain control, emperor Louis the Pious chose the new leader of the Britons, Nominoe, a nobleman of the Vannetais country, who became duke of the 'missaticum' of Brittany in 826 A.D. It was by 753 A.D. that Pippin the Short, after he took Vannes, decided to create the 'march of Brittany', or the 'Britannicus limes' to counter Britons' forays. The most famed of its administrators was, of course, Roland (or Hruotland) the heros to the eponymous medieval romance, as it included the Rennais, Nantais and Vannetais along with a part of the Maine. Guy of Nantes, Lambert Ist of Nantes, or Amaury, count of Nantes, were also prefects of the march of Brittany after Roland. That first march eventually was abandonned to Erispoë through the treaty of Angers (851 A.D.) with, too the country of Retz after the Franks were vainquised at the battle of Jengland. King Charles the Bald created a new march of Brittany, which included now the Touraine, Anjou and Maine, as it was entrusted to Robert the Strong by 861, who hold the title of 'marquis of Neutria.' As soon as by 863 however, parts of that second march --the territory of the Entre deux rivières, Cotentin, and Avranchin -- were given up to Britons. It was the Viking invasions which rendered obsolete any idea of a march of Brittany

Nominoe, as, by the death of Louis the Pious in 840, the duchy of Brittany has been devoluted to Charles the Bald as part of the western part of the empire, recognized Lothair as his ruler instead, which marked a fight of about 17 years during which Charles the Bald tried to contain the move of Brittany towards independence under Nominoe and his son Erispoe. Vikings meanwhile had begun their raids. Erispoe, who has been conceded the kingship in 851, was finally murdered by his cousin, Solomon, in 857. Under the reign of the later, Brittany, although expanding its territories, became back a tributary of the Frankish kingdom as peace and prosperity was eventually back in the area. Brittany, at the turn of the century, fell into struggles between the Briton noblemen as, despite they had been routed during some time (888-907) by king Alain the Great, Northmen built settlements and had the nobility and the clerics -beginning in 919- to flee into England or the Frankish kingdom. It was not before 937 and 939 A.D. that the Vikings were defeated by a Briton king who was coming back from England. The rule over Brittany continued to be a matter of dispute between the nobility as, in 987, the count of Rennes, Conan I, remained the sole winner. He became king of Brittany, with a nominal allegiance to the Capetians. Brittany then had begun to turn, in terms of civilization, towards the culture of France

Website Manager: G. Guichard, site Learning and Knowledge In the Carolingian Times / Erudition et savoir à l'époque carolingienne, Page Editor: G. Guichard. last edited: 8/9/2016. contact us at
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