) denotes the parts of Brittany
west of Ploërmel
, 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 Haute-Bretagne
, the eastern part of Brittany, of predominantly Romance
divide up into "Basse" (lower
) and "Haute" (upper
) areas - for example Basse-Lorraine
. The upper and lower terms refer to the relative positions of the capital. In the case of Brittany, Nantes
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.
The Frontier of Basse and Haute-Bretagne
Having been based on linguistic domains, the frontier corresponds very roughly to administrative border policies. 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'Argentré defined the border as running from the outskirts of Binic southwards down to Guérande, leaving the communes of Loudéac, Josselin, Malestroit in Haute Bretagne. In 1886, Paul Sébillot moved the frontier deeper into Breton territory, the line then running from Plouha to Batz-sur-Mer. Maps in the 17th century favour the latter.