Breton mythology

The mythology bretonne constitutes the fund of beliefs in Brittany. The Celtic peoples of Armorica probably know with their Celtic mythology several specific deities and creatures associated with nature cults, some traces of which can be found in certain Breton saints. This mythological collection was accepted by the Romans and then clearly Christianized, causing the irremediable loss of the great stories and the destruction or conversion of pagan places of worship.

Breton mythology

Breton mythology (texts)

Breton mythology and Arthurian myth by Chrétien de Troyes, Robert de Boron and Anonymous

Breton mythology, Méliador by Jean Froissart

Breton mythology, the Four Branches of Mabinogi

The Arthurian Mabinogion:

 Breton mythology, the three romances


The Mabinogion or the Four Branches of Mabinogi (Pedair cainc y mabinogi in Welsh) are four medieval texts (chwedl or cyfarwyddyd, words which mean tales), written in Middle Welsh (language in force from the 12th century to the 16th century), which refer to the Celtic mythology of Antiquity. Traditionally, other tales from Arthurian legend are added to it.

The word Mabinogion is the plural of Mabinogi. Various explanations on the meaning of the word have been put forward, but it probably comes from the god Mabon (Maponos in Gaul) who appears in the tale Kulhwch and Olwen, and which is part of the same collection. The four stories are titled: Pwyll, prince of Dyved, The Mabinogi of Branwen, Manawydan son of Llyr and Math son of Mathonwy.

The Mabinogion were drawn up from two manuscripts, the White Book of Rhydderch which was written from 1380 to 1410, and the Red Book of Hergest which is dated approximately to 1350. Let us recall that in the Celtic world, poetry was the specialty of bards. The themes developed are found in the Irish tradition, which attests to their antiquity.

We can cite, by way of example, the reports of the druid (or magician) and the king, the obligations of Sovereignty, the Other World (the Sidh of the Tuatha Dé Danann, in Ireland), war, the practice of craft functions. It is the illustration of the trifunctional ideology of the Indo-Europeans, as it was exposed by Georges Dumézil. As with Irish mythological texts, a Christian veneer is sometimes superimposed on the stories.

In the wave of 19th century Celtomania, a first publication redacted in English was made by Lady Guest between 1838 and 1849, parts of which were translated into French by Théodore Hersart de la Villemarqué, but it was Joseph Loth who established the first complete French edition.

The late writing indicates a long oral tradition, these myths have been transmitted from generation to generation, through the centuries; therefore it is not possible to specify its origin (see the article devoted to the druids).

The Good Lord, Jesus Christ and the apostles traveling in Lower Brittany

The Good Lord, the Blessed Virgin and the Devil traveling in Lower Brittany

Heaven and Hell

Death on the Journey

Hermits, monks, robbers, saints.

Devils, ghosts and damned.

Various stories.

Breton mythology by François-Marie Luzel: