Breton: Konan Meriadek
Latin: Conanus Meridiadocus
Welsh: Kynan ap Eudav
d. 395 CE.
The legendary founder of Britanny, being the first to lead a group of Britons into Armorica, establishing it as a British, not Gaulish, entity.
In The Dream of Macsen Wledig, Conan is the grandson of Caradoc ap Bran and brother to Elen of the Hosts. As such, he is the brother-in-law of Macsen (Magnus Maximus), and it was Macsen who allegedly gave Conan Armorica as his own kingdom. In this particular myth, there is a gruesome etymology of the Welsh name for Brittany--Llydaw. It is said that Conan took his men, settled in Armorica, and cut out the tongues of the women in that country, thus rendering them unable to speak. However, this is an unlikely etymology, for reasons covered under that entry.
In Geoffrey of Monmouths' Historia Regnum Britanniae, Conan is the nephew of Emperor Maximian (again Magnus Maximus), and nearly starts a war with the emperor, but is persuaded otherwise. Maximian then conquers Armorica and gives it to Conan.
Another legend, recounted by Geoffrey, is that Conan was the husband of Saint Ursula, but apparently survived the onslaught of Huns in Cologne.
In the Cornish play Beunans Meriasek, Conan is cousin to Saint Meriasek (whose name is a late Cornish rendering of "Meriadoc", interestingly enough), who tries to convince his cousin not to enter into a life of aesceticism.
The Earls of Rohan of Brittany claims descent from Conan Meriadoc. Because of this fact, I wonder whether J.R.R. Tolkien was influenced by these names when creating the hobbit Meriadoc Brandybuck, who becomes a knight of Rohan. It's not implausible--though Tolkien's field was Anglo-Saxon literature, he certainly had a more-than-passing familiarity with Celtic literature.
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Mary Jones © 2005