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Books about Brittany (France)

This is a summary of my reading before and after a trip to Brittany in June/July 2007.


I started with The Bretons (review), a general account from pre-history down to 1490, with a focus on archaeology and social history. Narrower studies include Province and Empire: Brittany and the Carolingians (FR 944.1 19, Amazon), Brittany and the Angevins: Province and Empire 1158-1203 (Amazon), and Between France and England: Politics, Power and Society in Late Medieval Brittany (Amazon).

For the modern period there are lots of sociological and anthropological studies. So far I've read "We are not French!": Language, culture and identity in Brittany (review). Other interesting looking books include Classes, Estates and Order in Early-modern Brittany (Amazon UK); Fifteen Generations of Bretons (FR 944.1 17, Amazon), a study of kinship and demographics in Bigouden in western Brittany; The Appointed Hour: Death, Worldview, and Social Change in Brittany; The Horse of Pride: Life in a Breton Village; The Chouans: Social Origins of Popular Counter-revolution in Upper Brittany; and Memoirs of a Breton Peasant (Amazon), a working man's notebooks from around 1900.

Architecture and geography

For architecture, The Vernacular Architecture of Brittany (FR 728.6709441 1) looks at traditional everyday housing: it goes into rather fine details and has only grainy halftones as illustrations, but it's a great mix of architecture with historical geography, archaeology, and ethnography.

At Carnac we bought Standing Stones: Stonehenge, Carnac and the World of Megaliths (link is to my review), which seemed the most substantial offering among all the tourist literature.

I haven't had a chance to look at Breton Landscape: From The Romans To The Second Empire In Eastern Brittany (Amazon UK).


I wanted to read Balzac's The Chouans on the plane flight, but couldn't find a copy; the Penguin translation appears to be out of print.

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