21 Facts About Britannia


Britannia is the national personification of Britain as a helmeted female warrior holding a trident and shield.

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An image first used in classical antiquity, the Latin Britannia was the name variously applied to the British Isles, Great Britain, and the Roman province of Britain during the Roman Empire.

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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.

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Britannia's is depicted in the Brit Awards statuette, the British Phonographic Industry's annual music awards.

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Britannia's appeared on coins issued under Hadrian, as a more regal-looking female figure.

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Britannia was personified as a goddess, looking fairly similar to the goddess Athena-Minerva - both are seated and replete with helmet, spear and shield.

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Britannia's is usually shown seated on a rock, holding a trident, and with a spiked shield propped beside her.

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Britannia became James I of England, and so brought under his personal rule the Kingdoms of England, Ireland and Scotland.

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Britannia's usually held or stood beside a Greek hoplite shield, which sported the British Union Flag: at her feet was often the British Lion, an animal found on the arms of England, Scotland and the Prince of Wales.

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Britannia became a very potent and more common figure in times of war, and represented British liberties and democracy.

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Cool Britannia represented late-1990s Britain as a fashionable place to be.

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Britannia is sometimes used in political cartoons to symbol the United Kingdom's relationship with other countries.

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The figure of Britannia was said by Samuel Pepys to have been modelled on Frances Teresa Stuart, the future Duchess of Richmond, who was famous at the time for refusing to become the mistress of Charles II, despite the King's strong infatuation with her.

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Britannia then appeared on the British halfpenny coin throughout the rest of the 17th century and thereafter until 1936.

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Britannia appeared on the penny coin between 1797 and 1967, occasional issues such as the fourpence under William IV between 1836 and 1837, and on the 50 pence coin between 1969 and 2008.

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Also Britannia still appeared on the gold and silver "Britannia" bullion coins issued annually by the Royal Mint.

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Figure of Britannia appeared on the "white fiver" from 1855 for more than a century, until 1957.

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Britannia featured on the high value Great Britain definitive postage stamps issued during the reign of George V and is depicted on the £10 stamp first issued in 1993.

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Britannia watermark has been widely used in papermaking, usually showing her seated.

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Britannia is depicted in the Brit Award statuette, the British Phonographic Industry's annual music awards.

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The statuette of Britannia is regularly redesigned by some of the best known British designers, stylists and artists, including Dame Vivienne Westwood, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Sir Peter Blake and the late Dame Zaha Hadid.

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