Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Who's a Celt now? - 2

The word "Celt" first appears in English in 1706, but it referred then usually to the people of ancient Gaul (modern France), says the OED. There are some earlier uses of "Celtic," again referring to the Gauls, from the late 17th century.

"Celts" begame fashionable as Noble Savages after Scotland, in particular, was no longer seen by the English as a military threat. "Bonnie Prince Charlie's" attempt to be king of England died at Culloden Moor in 1746, after a promising beginning.

Something similar happened in Ireland after the 1798 uprising was put down, I would suggest. Noble savages are most "noble" after they have been defeated.

King George IV and then Queen Victoria elevated Scottish tartans into high fashion. The linking of specific tartans to clans was a Victorian-era invention.

By the 1870s a Celtic Magazine was being published in Britain, and the whole Romantic association of Celticity with poetic melancholy and an allegedly Pagan-tinged form of Christianity was well underway.

More to come.

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Blogger Peculiar said...

Don't forget Ossian, one of the most successful literary hoaxes ever!

12:06 PM  
Blogger Chas S. Clifton said...

Never fear, I won't forget him. But first Anglicans, then Ossian.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Dolmena said...

Soem good points, here. I've said in a different context that a certain ethnicity (Celts, Amerindians, etc.) becomes "cool" a little bit after that ethnicity is no longer attached to a military threat.

7:43 PM  

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