Simanaitis Says

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HAVING ONLY YESTERDAY mentioned the Norman Conquest, I thought I’d learn more about Normandy, that portion of northern France whence came the conquerors. What better source than my Cook’s Traveller’s Handbook to Normandy and Brittany, right?

Cook’s Traveller’s Handbook for Normandy and Brittany, Thos. Cook & Son, 1923.

Maybe not, given that it was published in 1923. On the other hand, it offers tidbits galore, several of which are eye-openers (or is that grimaces in these P.C. times?) Here they are in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow. 

Historical Notes. Of Normandy and Brittany, Cook’s says, “There dwell, side by side, two distinct nationalities, the Celt and the Norman—the colonisers of Great Britain and the conquers of Saxon England—different almost as widely in this year of our Lord 1923, as in days of old, when the Celt worshipped the sun on Salisbury Plain, and when the Norseman quaffed deep draughts of ale in honour of Odin and Thor, and fitted out piratical galleys to ravage the less warlike nations of Southern Europe.”

The Normans. Well, yes. As described at history, “The Normans were Vikings who settled in northwestern France in the 10th and 11th centuries and their descendants. These people gave their name to the duchy of Normandy, a territory ruled by a duke that grew out of a 911 treaty between King Charles III of West Francia and Rollo, the leader of the Vikings.”

William the Conquerer, a descendant of Rollo, was Duke of Normandy from 1035 onward. 

William the Conquerer, c. 1028–1087, aka William I of England aka William the Bastard. You know how people talk. Depiction in the Bayeux Tapestry of the Battle of Hastings, where William lifts his helmet to show he’s still alive.

The Celts. According to, “The ancient culture known as the Celts once extended far beyond the British Isles. With territory stretching from Spain to the Black Sea, the Celts were geographically the largest group of people to inhabit ancient Europe.”

Celts derived their name from the Greeks who encountered them in 540 B.C on the southern coast of France and called them the Κελτοι. No one knows why. Google Translate begs the question: It says Κελτοι means Celtics. 

This reminds me of the word’s pronunciation (a hard c is preferred, rhyming with belt). There’s a rude story of Richard Burton correcting a Boston “Seltics” fan and calling him a “Sunt.”

The Celtic Conquest? It’s proposed, but debatable if you wish, that the Celts arose in central Europe, then to disperse westward into Gaul, the British Isles, and Iberia. Sorta a Celtic Conquest, way early.

Tomorrow in Part 2, Cook’s offers personality profiles of the Normans and Bretons. Neither comes off very well. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022  


  1. Bob Storck
    June 7, 2022

    Your mention of Google translate’s bowdlerization of the origin of Celtic should remind us of the fallacy of that and Wikipedia. They are not created by scholars and researchers as dictionaries and encyclopedia were … they’re a mish-mosh of reader inputs and self appointed web management experts.
    We are going to lose the origins, and move to present beliefs and usages.
    Is that the reasoning behind these internet sources becoming a new standard of understanding?

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