Using Brittany and Spanish Nederlands as countries?

+3 votes
109 views
Im starting to go back into my tree and i guess if i should replace Brittany instead of France as place of birth for ancestors that were born before the annexation of this kingdom into France. Same for Spanish Nederlands before it became Belgium, maybe should be using the name of the province instead?

i have seen profiles with Spaanse Nederland as a birth place, but not many, none with Bretagne. I want to be accurate and consistent with the other profiles.
in Policy and Style by Laura Lopez Van Dam G2G6 (8.7k points)

3 Answers

+4 votes
Laura, if the record says Brittany, then I think you should use it. Wikitree asks us to use the place names as they were at the time of the event.
by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+1 vote
I agree we should be flexible. As you probably know, until the 19th century much of continental Europe was constantly changing its connections and boundaries. Often we therefore do need to chose a smaller and more stable political unit such as Britanny (which was very often more or less an independent country) or the Spanish Netherlands. In medieval times we often need to use even smaller units such as Brabant or Flanders.
by Andrew Lancaster G2G6 Pilot (107k points)
+1 vote
Concerning Bretagne/Brittany, since it was annexed just before 1500 (marriage of Anna Breizh with the King of France) you can confidently "Bretagne, France" on any profile until you are pre-1500 certified. Even though the story of the inclusion of Brittany is a bit complicated - you could argue it was not completely part of the Kingdom of France until Claude de France's death - it was a given as soon as Anne married Charles VIII.

I am an advocate of using Spaanse Nederlanden (1556-1714) and Oostenrijkse Nederlanden (1714-... 1795, though the period between 1789 and 1795 is fairly complicated). There was no country of Belgium until 1830, though there are certainly references to Belgium (or at least "Belgique", in France) before that.
by Isabelle Martin G2G6 Pilot (438k points)
Looking at Belgium, there was literally a generation who  were born in the Kingdom of Austria, then told they were French citizens when they married, had kids in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and then died in the Kingdom of Belgium...

...without every leaving a small cluster of villages. For periods like this, and other similar ones such as 1830-1839 for Belgian Limburg, I think it can be important to insert the county/province names such as Brabant, because these changed less radically.

If you see someone was born in Brabant, Austrian Netherlands, married in Brabant, French Republic, etc, you will more quickly get what is happening.

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