A Breton president? / Ur brezidantez breton?

The current presidential election–a topic that you didn’t expect on this blog. It’s extremely important, of course. But don’t worry–I’m not here to talk US politics. Instead I’m going to share with you the one thing I’m pretty sure that you don’t know about one of the major candidates….

Hillary Clinton is Breton! That means in two days, the US may be electing a Breton president. I have to say, I think that’s pretty cool. And I think it’s safe to say that I’ve managed to scoop the New York Times and the Washington Post on this one.

It turns out that Hillary is French Canadian on her mother’s side, and her ancestors came from 16 different départements–which are similar to states–in France, including two Breton départements, Morbihan and Ille-et-Vilaine. (She also has an ancestor from Loire-Atlantique, which includes an important corner of traditional Brittany, so she may be even more Breton.) Morbihan is where I was living when I began this blog, so maybe she’s related to the people I met when I lived in Plañvour. And no doubt, those ancestors spoke in the Gwened (aka Vannetais) dialect.

Also of note: Hillary is a descendant of King Louis X of France, a medieval king who–among other things–freed the serfs and allowed the Jews to return to France. These two facts are quite impressive. The details on his Wikipedia page point up some self-serving motives and harsh details–but still, a step in the right direction. And who else is descended from King Louis X? The current president of France, François Hollande. So they’re distant cousins.

Closer cousins of Hillary via that French Canadian heritage apparently include Madonna, Céline Dion, and Angelina Jolie. Just imagine that family reunion….

I found all this out via the France 3 (Bretagne) website article (it’s in French, of course) about Hillary. It takes this information from a new book on French and international leaders’ family histories. It’s called Dico des Politiques, is written by the geneologist Jean-Louis Beaucarnot, and was just published on November 2nd.

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Madeleine Adkins

I'm a linguist and a writer, with a passion for the Breton language, Celtic languages in general, and endangered language communities who engage in revitalization efforts. I've published some articles about the Breton language situation in some academic journals, and I'm planning to publish more in the near future. I spent most of the last decade moving around--first to Santa Barbara (grad school), then Colorado (teaching), and then Brittany (researching the Breton language revitalization movement and improving my Breton speaking skills)--and now I'm in the San Francisco Bay Area. Even though I am living far from Brittany at this point, I still keep in touch with my friends and colleagues in the Breton-speaking world, and I'm still involved in language revitalization issues.

4 thoughts on “A Breton president? / Ur brezidantez breton?”

  1. As John Kerry is…with probably even more connections with Brittany than Hillary. Alas, it does not seem that this ancestry helped in any way and in both cases when running for President. Better to be a bit Irish it seems, like Barack!

    1. Yes, I’d heard about Kerry’s Brittany connection, and he’s spent a lot of time there. But I wasn’t aware of Hillary’s connection before this week. And yes, it didn’t seem to help either of them in their run for the presidency. Yes, Irish heritage is often a plus in the US, as there are so many Irish-Americans.

      1. Thanks for your answer!… and to stay on the “Breton wannabe President” note, I just hope the one with a Breton name aiming at the french Presidency will confirm this losing trend…just me!

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