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Britannia was the Greek and Roman term for the geographical region of Great Britain or Great Britain and Ireland which was inhabited by the Britons, Belgae and Picts and is the name given to the female personification of the island. It is a term still used to refer to the island today. The name is Latin, and derives from the Greek form Prettanike or Brettaniai, which originally designated a collection of islands with individual names, including Albion or Great Britain; however, by the 1st century BC, Britannia came to be used for Great Britain specifically.
In AD 43 the Roman Empire began its conquest of the island, establishing a province they called Britannia, which came to encompass the parts of the island south of Caledonia (roughly Scotland). In the 2nd century, Roman Britannia came to be personified as a goddess, armed with a trident and shield and wearing a Corinthian helmet.
The name Britannia long survived the end of Roman rule in Britain in the 5th century and yielded the name for the island in most European and various other languages, including the English Britain and the modern Welsh Prydain. After centuries of declining use, the Latin form was revived during the English Renaissance as a rhetorical evocation of a British national identity. Especially following the Acts of Union in 1707, which joined the Kingdoms of England and Scotland, the personification of the martial Britannia was used as an emblem of British imperial power and unity. A British cultural icon, she was featured on all modern British coinage series until the redesign in 2008, and still appears annually on the gold and silver "Britannia" bullion coin series. In 2015 a new definitive £2 coin was issued, with a new image of Britannia. She is also depicted in the Brit Awards statuette, the British Phonographic Industry's annual music awards.
K1 Britannia, a 1994 replica (refit in 2012) of King George V's famed racing yacht Britannia which was scuttled in 1936.
Britannia silver, a high-grade alloy of silver introduced in Britain in 1697.
Britannia coins, a series of British gold bullion coins issued since 1987, which have nominal values of 100, 50, 25, and 10 pounds.
HMS Britannia, any of eight vessels of the Royal Navy.
Britannia Royal Naval College, the Royal Navy's officer training college.
- The former Royal Yacht Britannia, the Royal Family's personal yacht, recently retired in Leith, Edinburgh Scotland.
RMS Britannia, the first steam ocean liner owned by Samuel Cunard in 1840.
SS Britannia, a 1925 British liner, sunk by the German auxiliary cruiser Thor in 1941 with the loss of 122 crew and 127 passengers.
MV Britannia, the flagship of the P&O Cruises fleet, which came into service in 2015.
Bristol Type 175 Britannia, a 1952 British turbo-prop airliner.
Bristol Type 603S3 Britannia, a 1983 British luxury car.
Pugnaces Britanniae, war dog of Britain.
- The patriotic song "Rule, Britannia!", set to music in 1740.
- Company names such as Britannia Building Society, Britannia Airways, Britannia Industries & Britannia Movers.
- The Britannia Movers group was founded in the early 1920s, making it one of the oldest & largest businesses of its kind in the UK.
- The Britannia Class, an alternative name for the BR Standard Class 7 series of steam locomotives produced between 1951 and 1954, the first of the BR "standard" classes. Preserved Class 7 locomotive No. 70000, built in 1951, was also named Britannia.
- "The Britannia" is a popular pub name; there were 82 English public houses with this name in 2011.
- The Britannia Building Society traded for over a century before deciding to merge with The Co-operative Bank and now trades as Britannia. They are the official sponsors of Stoke City F.C. and so their logo appears on the team's shirts and the Britannia Stadium is named after the company.
- Britannia is a community South of the town of Bacup, in Lancashire, UK. The "home" of the Britannia Coco-nut Dancers.
- The Dutch Maiden, the female personification of the Netherlands
Columbia, the equivalent for the United States
Italia Turrita, the equivalent personification for Italy
Mother Svea, the equivalent personification for Sweden
Hibernia (personification), a personification of Ireland
Kathleen Ni Houlihan, a personification of Ireland
Marianne, a personification of France
Germania, a personification of the German nation
Prydain, Welsh name for Great Britain in both ancient and modern times.
William Camden, author of Britannia, author of topographical and historical survey of all of Great Britain and Ireland, first published in 1586.
- Britannia Superior
- Britannia Inferior
Allen, Stephen (2007). Lords of Battle: The World of the Celtic Warrior. Osprey Publishing. ISBN .
Collingwood, Robin George (1998). Roman Britain and the English Settlements. Biblo & Tannen Publishers. ISBN .
Davies, Norman (2000). The Isles a History. Macmillan. ISBN .
- Hewitt, Virginia. "Britannia (fl. 1st–21st cent.)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edition 2007, accessed 28 Aug 2011
Snyder, Christopher (2003). The Britons. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN .
- M. Dresser (ed.), 'Britannia', Patriotism: the making and unmaking of British national identity, vol. 3
- R. Samuel, National fictions (1989), pp. 26–49
- Britannia depicta: quality, value and security, National Postal Museum (1993)
- H. Mattingly, Nerva to Hadrian, reprint (1976), vol. 3 of Coins of the Roman empire in the British Museum
- J. M. C. Toynbee, The Hadrianic school: a chapter in the history of Greek art (1974)
- M. Henig, 'Britannia', Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, 3/1 (1983), pp. 167–69
- K. T. Erim, 'A new relief showing Claudius and Britannia from Aphrodisias', Britannia, 13 (1982), pp. 277–81
- H. Peacham, Minerva Britannia, or, A garden of heroical devises (1612)
- J. Thomson, Britannia: a poem (1729)
- R. Strong, Gloriana, the portraits of Queen Elizabeth I (1987)
- H. A. Atherton, Political prints in the age of Hogarth. A study of the ideographic representation of politics (1974)
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