Apropos of a local postgrad seminar paper around here the other day which I think it would otherwise be inappropriate to blog, this question arose in the discussion. King Æthelstan of Wessex, or indeed England or yet Britain, as you can see from the coin above used the title Rex totius Britanniae, King of All Britain. In 936 this aspiring king landed the eventual Duke Alain II Barbe-Torte of Brittany, with whom he had grown up, at Dol to take over the rather Viking-battered principality for his own, which with his English support Alain duly did.1 Æthelstan must have known it was called Brittany by analogy with Britain; did he think his claimed “totus Britanniae” included it, do you suppose? Was this a takeover, or just a spreading of his friends? Is there a difference in tenth-century Europe? From one corner to another, I just wonder.
1. Source for this is Flodoard’s Annals, ed. Philippe Lauer as Les Annales de Flodoard, publiées d’après les manuscrits, avec une introduction (Paris 1903), online at the Internet Archive where last mod. 19th June 2008 as of 9th February 2009 (warning: the OCR’d plain-text is unusably garbled, the PDF is your only resort), cap. ΜΓ, and now transl. Steven Fanning & Bernard S. Bachrach as The Annals of Flodoard of Reims, 919-966, Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures (Peterborough ON 2004), s. a. 936. For background see Joëlle Quaghebeur, “Norvège et Bretagne aux IXe et Xe siècles : un destin partagé” in Pierre Bauduin (ed.), Les fondations scandinaves en Occident et les débuts du duché de Normandie (Rouen 2005), pp. 113-131.