minstrel: Music question

E. Howard-Wroth ercil at astrid.upland.ca.us
Sun Jul 20 14:52:44 PDT 1997


I cannot comment on the periodness of the legend
itself, but I do know that there is a small part
of Brittany (and I can't remember exactly where) that
feels they are Welsh.  Their culture is Welsh.  They
speak either Welsh or a variant as well as French.
They are very loyal to their small pocket of life
- at least the older generation was some 17 yrs 
ago (I hate it that I can say that in reference
to my own history).  I spent some time with
one gentleman who was creating a book about the
Welsh saints based upon his area's traditional history.
Very interesting character.

Now, I wish I had made some effort to ask
how long the pocket had been in France and
other things.  They reminded me somewhat of
the Provancal people in Provance, who have
maintained their culture and language.

Astridhr

> On Fri, 18 Jul 1997, Rex Deaver wrote:
> 
> > Ran across a story in "Legends And Romances Of Brittany".  Seems a British
> > army landed in Brittany.  The Bretons and French of course responded.  A
> > company from Lower Brittany (Treguier, Saint-Pol de Leon)  were sent against
> > a detachment of Scottish Highlanders.
> > 
> > About a mile away, The Bretons started hearing their enemies singing "a
> > national song".  They fell silent, astounded, as the music was well known to
> > them.  Soon they began singing back the refrain.  It was the Scots turn to
> > fall silent.
> > 
> > When the two forces reached each other, their respective officers gave the
> > order to fire.  But the orders were given, by tradition, "in the same
> > language", and the soldiers on both sides froze.  Then they all dropped
> > their weapons and rushed together, clapping backs and shaking hands in a
> > great display of Celtic brotherhood.
> 
> I find this story, as presented, exceedingly unlikely -- at least the
> linguistic angle.  If the story involved Breton and Welsh, it would be far
> more believable -- there is plenty of evidence that, with a little
> practice, Breton and Welsh were close to mutually intelligible throughout
> period (and -- by the testimony of people I've met -- remain so in modern
> times).  Think of the difference as being equivalent to that between
> German and Dutch or Spanish and Italian.  But the Brythonic and Goidelic
> languages had diverged sufficiently even by the early medieval period that
> such a scenario is simply unbelievable.
> 
> As to the musical angle -- I'll note that a large number of popular tunes
> were pan-European (at least for western Europe).  The above story doesn't
> mention anything in the way of a date, but a certain amount of the popular
> music around the Scottish court may have been heavily French-influenced,
> and it would not be surprising for such tunes to also be known in
> Brittany. Postulating an "ancient Celtic connection" is nice romanticism,
> but not the most obvious explanation.
> 
> Frankly, it sounds like a "friend of a friend" legend to me -- sort of
> like the stories about explorers running across tribes in northern Africa
> that spoke Welsh (always at third-hand report).
> 
> Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn
> 
> 
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