What is it about Brittany that makes it such a favourite destination for the British?
To answer this question, Bretons and Britons explores the long history of the Bretons, from the time of the first farmers around 5400 BC to the present, and the very close relationship they have had with their British neighbours throughout this time. More than simply a history of a people, Bretons and Britons is also the author's homage to a country and a people he has come to admire over decades of engagement.
Underlying the story throughout is the tale of the Bretons' fierce struggle to maintain their distinctive identity. As a peninsula people living on a westerly excrescence of Europe they were surrounded on three sides by the sea, which gave them some protection from outside interference, but their landward border was constantly threatened - not only by succeeding waves of Romans, Franks, and Vikings, but also by the growing power of the French state.
It was the sea that gave the Bretons strength and helped them in their struggle for independence. They shared in the culture of Atlantic-facing Europe, and from the eighteenth century, when a fascination for the Celts was beginning to sweep Europe, they were able to present themselves as the direct successors of the ancient Celts along with the Cornish, Welsh, Scots, and Irish. This gave them a new strength and a new pride. It is this spirit that is still very much alive today.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Number of pages: 488
Weight: 1126 g
Dimensions: 255 x 200 x 25 mm
For the past quarter century the master of Celtic ceremonies has been Oxford's Barry Cunliffe ... But one group of Celts has enjoyed his special affection, the Bretons of France's western extremity, Brittany, or Finistere, the end of the earth. He has now written their definitive biography. * Simon Jenkins, Times Literary Supplement *
[Cunliffe's] book is a very effective history of [the Brittany] region of northwestern France, but it is also a history of the links between the British Isles and the Breton people, going back to prehistoric times. * Simon Heffer, Literary Review *
[An] excellent book that tells the long story of cross-Channel connections from prehistory to the present. * David Musgrove, BBC History Magazine *