Lower Brittany (Breizh Izel in Breton, Basse-Bretagne in French) denotes the parts of Brittany west of Plo rmel, where the Breton language was traditionally spoken, and where the culture associated with this language is most prolific. The name is in contra-distinction to Upper Brittany, the eastern part of Brittany, which is of a predominantly Romance culture.
Other r gions are also divided into Lower (Basse) and Upper (Haute) areas - for example Basse-Lorraine, Bas-Poitou, Lower Normandy. The upper and lower terms refer to the relative positions of the capital. In the case of Brittany, Nantes and Rennes have both been the capital. The French word "bas" has sometimes negative connotations, often implying inferior.
The term "Breizh Izel" is mentioned numerous times in Breton songs of the 19th century and 20th century, possibly because the Breton word "Izel" holds no negative connotations.
Line between Upper and Lower Brittany
Having been based on linguistic areas, the dividing line corresponds very roughly to administrative borders. It had already been established by the 14th century and has changed only slightly since, hand in hand with the pushing back of the Breton language.
In 1588, the historian Bertrand d'Argentr defined the border as running from the outskirts of Binic southwards down to Gu rande, leaving the communes of Loud ac, Josselin, and Malestroit in Upper Brittany. In 1886, Paul S billot moved the frontier deeper into what had been Breton speaking territory, the line then running from Plouha to Batz-sur-Mer. Maps in the 17th century favour the latter.
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