Great Britain





The island is said to have been called ‘Great Britain’ to distinguish it from ‘Little Britain’ which is Brittany (Bretagne), France. Strangely, the origin of the name is not clear. An explanation favoured by some is that it arose in Roman times (c383) when Maximus, a British King, was proclaimed Emperor by Roman troops garrisoned in Britain and expanded his territory into Brittany. [He succeeded quickly in his attempt to become Emperor but did not survive long, being killed in 388.] An explanation favoured by others is that it arose when some Britons fled from (Great) Britain into Brittany to escape from Saxon invaders c450. Others think it arose following the Norman Conquest (1066). Still others think that the British Isles were thought of originally (by whom is not known) as the Isles off Brittany, with Great Britain being called that simply because it is the biggest of the isles. Whatever its orgins, the name was not widely used until shortly after King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England (in 1603).


Written by on the 26th February 2014.

Peter is the founder & proprietor of Stirnet.

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