How great is Great Britain?

I’ve always wondered why GREAT BRITAIN is translated into Italian as Gran Bretagna. Wouldn’t it better to translate with Gran Britannia seeing that Britannia is the old name of the island whereas Bretagna is a French region? Thanks. Enrico

This is an interesting question. The French region is called Brittany in English, whereas the old name for Britain was, as you say, Britannia. Brittany (in France) was originally known as Armorica but, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, many Britons (who were fleeing from the Saxon invaders) moved there from Britain.  The name Armorica changed to Britannia, but there was a distinction between Britannia minor (Brittany) and Britannia major (Britain). This is why Britain is called Great Britain: not because the British think they’re great!

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