Lloegyr is the medieval Welsh name for a region of Britain (Prydain). The exact borders are unknown, but some modern scholars hypothesize it ran south and east of a line extending from the Humber Estuary to the Severn Estuary, exclusive of Cornwall and Devon. The people of Lloegyr were called Lloegyrwys without distinction of ethnicity, the term applying to both Britons and Anglo-Saxons.
The modern form of the word is Lloegr (pronounced [ˈɬɔɨɡr̩] or [ˈɬɔiɡr̩]) and it has become generalised through the passage of time to become the Welsh word for "England" as a whole, and not restricted to its original, smaller extent. The word has been anglicised and Latinised into such forms as Logres, Logris, and Loegria, among others, and is perhaps most widely recognised as the name of King Arthur's realm in the body of literature known as the Matter of Britain. The word is known to date from the 10th century or earlier, as it appears in the literary Armes Prydein.
Welsh antiquarians of the 18th and 19th centuries hypothesized that the borders of Lloegyr ran roughly on a line from the Humber Estuary, continuing southwestwards and connecting to the Severn Estuary. The line continues south across the estuary, crossing South West England such that Cornwall and Devon are excluded from Lloegyr. The division is mentioned in literature (e.g., the Welsh Triads) and is supported by the works of respected historians such as John Rhys' Celtic Britain and John Edward Lloyd's A History of Wales from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest.
While Geoffrey of Monmouth invented fanciful characters and places in his stories of Loegria and its eponymous king Locrinus, he also showed that he was aware that the actual boundary of Lloegyr was known to run between the Humber and Severn estuaries, and that Cornwall was distinct from Loegria.
The exact origin of the word is still a matter of speculation. 12th century AD author Geoffrey of Monmouth offered a fanciful etymology in his Historia regum Britanniae, deriving the names of Cambria, Loegria, and Albany from the sons of the fictional Brutus of Troy: Camber, Locrinus, and Albanactus, respectively, and makes them the eponymous kings of Wales/Cambria (Camber), England/Loegria (Locrinus), and Scotland/Albany (Albanactus). In 1982, noted linguist Eric Hamp suggested that Lloeg(y)r could be derived from a Proto-Celtic compound *(p)les-okri-s, meaning 'having a nearby border, being from near the border'. Ranko Matasović prefers to see Lloegr as coming from a Brittonic collective noun *Lāikor meaning ‘warriors’, the root of which he proposes gave Old Irish láech "warrior" (though some scholars[who?] regard the Old Irish word as a loan from Late Latin lāicus ‘layman; of the people’), from a Proto-Indo-European root *leh2- "war". The suffix -wys found in numerous Welsh ethnic names, including Lloegrwys, is derived from the Latin suffix -ēnsēs. Richard Coates makes a suggestion which agrees semantically with Matasović's, but proposes instead that it is borrowed from West Germanic (i.e. pre-Old English) *laikārōs ‘performers of exploits, players (in a military sense), warriors’.
To the Welsh, Lloegyr was a foreign land with a foreign populace, distinct from the lands and peoples of the Cymry. Cymry is the Welsh word for themselves, and historically included all of the Britons living north and west of Lloegyr, south of the Scottish firths of Clyde and Forth, and not including the people of Cornwall and Devon.
- Skene 1868b, The Four Ancient Books of Wales, vol. 2, multiple references.
- Owen, William (1803), "Lloegyr", A Dictionary of the Welsh Language, Explained in English, II, London: E. Williams, p. 233: "... that part of ancient Britain, which was inhabited by the Belgians, properly speaking; also England, south of the Humber, exclusive of Wales, Cornwall, and Devon; but now it is the popular name for England in general. ..."
- Palgrave, Francis (1832), "footnote, The Rise and Progress of the English Commonwealth, Part I, Anglo-Saxon Period", in Palgrave, R. H. Inglis (ed.), The Collected Historical Works of Sir Francis Palgrave, K.H., Volume Six, Cambridge: Cambridge University (published 1921), p. 581: "Lloegria. The Celtic name for Britain south-east of the Severn and Humber."
- Owen, William (1792), "footnote", The heroic elegies and other pieces of Llywarç Hen, London: J. Owen, E. Williams, p. 75: "... The south part of England, bounded by the Severn and the Humber, exclusive of Cornwall, was the ancient Lloegyr but there is reason to conclude that the name was once confined to a still lesser extent of country; or so much of the southern coast as the Belgic Gauls possessed who did not coalesce in the Cymmry, and there was a considerable difference in their dialects. But Lloegyr now implies England in general."
- Probert 1823:373, Triads of the Isle of Britain, beginning with Triad 2 and including others.
- Rhys 1904, Celtic Britain
- Lloyd 1911, A History of Wales from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest
- Geoffrey of Monmouth c. 1136:33 Chronicle of the Kings of Britain: ... When Brutus was dead, his sons partitioned the island amongst themselves; Locrinus as eldest son, took, as his share, the middle portion, and therefore this part was called Loegr, in reference to his name. The portion beyond the Severn fell to the lot of Camber, and from his name received that of Cambria. The third portion, which extends northwards from the Humber to Penrhyn Bladon, and is now called Scotland, was taken by Albanactus, and from his name called Albany. Thus they all reigned at one and the same time."
- Geoffrey of Monmouth c. 1136:91 Chronicle of the Kings of Britain: " ... When the districts they were to govern were assigned to them, that of York comprehended Deira and Bernicia, and all the country north of the Humber; that of London, Loegria and Cornwall, as far as the Severn; and that of Caerleon, Wales, from the Severn upwards, and a superiority over the other two."
- Eric P. Hamp, “‘Lloegr’: the Welsh name for England”, Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 4 (Winter 1982): 83–5.
- Ranko Matasović, Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic (Leiden: Brill, 2009), 235.
- John Koch, The Gododdin of Aneirin: text and context from Dark-Age North Britain (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1997), 133.
- Richard Coates, “Welsh Lloegr ‘England’”, Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 74 (Winter 2017): 41-5.
- Lloyd 1911:111, A History of Wales from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest, The Fifth Century
- Geoffrey of Monmouth (c. 1136), "Book II: History of the Kings of Britain", in Roberts, Peter (ed.), The Chronicle of the Kings of Britain (the Brut Tysilio), London: E. Williams (published 1811), pp. 33, 91
- Higham, Nicholas (1992), Rome, Britain and the Anglo-Saxons, London: B. A. Selby, ISBN 1-85264-022-7
- Jones, Barri; Mattingly, David (1990), An Atlas of Roman Britain, Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers (published 2007), ISBN 978-1-84217-067-0
- Laing, Lloyd; Laing, Jennifer (1990), "The non-Romanized zone of Britannia", Celtic Britain and Ireland, c. 200–800, New York: St. Martin's Press, pp. 96–123, ISBN 0-312-04767-3
- Lloyd, John Edward (1911), A History of Wales from the Earliest Times to the Edwardian Conquest, I (Second ed.), London: Longmans, Green, and Co. (published 1912)
- Probert, William, ed. (1823), "Triads of the Isle of Britain", The Ancient Laws of Cambria, London: E. Williams, pp. 373–413
- Rhys, John (1904), Celtic Britain (3rd ed.), London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge
- Skene, William Forbes (1868a), The Four Ancient Books of Wales, I, Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas (published 1868)
- Skene, William Forbes (1868b), The Four Ancient Books of Wales, II, Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas (published 1868)