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Britannia was the name of Britain in Latin. After the Romans invaded in AD 43, Britannia was used for the Roman province, which was the main part of Great Britain. It included England, and (at times) parts of Scotland and Wales. Previously, in Celtic languages, the island had been known as Albion.
Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History (4.16.102) likewise has:
- "It was itself named Albion, while all the islands about which we shall soon briefly speak were called the Britanniae".
In 930, the English King Æthelstan used the title: rex et primicerius totius Albionis regni ("King and chief of the whole realm of Albion"). His nephew King Edgar styled himself Totius Albionis imperator augustus (August emperor of all Albion) in 970.
Alfred the Great used the word bryttania.
In Old French the word was Bretaigne which became Bretagne in Modern French and Bretayne, Breteyne in Middle English. The French word replaced the Old English words, Breoton, Breoten, Bryten, Breten, Breoton-lond and Breten-lond.