Latvia SIG #Latvia Re: Why do places in Eastern Europe (Galicia, Bailen, etc.) have the same names as places in Spain? #latvia

Shelley K. Pollero

There are several historical reasons for the similar place names. You
may be interested in the following message that was posted on the
JewishGen Discussion Group SigLists in 2009.
Subject: The Other Galicias My additional comments are in [brackets].

There are several places with names similar to Galicia, among them:

Galicia -- Austrian province (today split between Poland and Ukraine)
Galicia -- region in Spain
Gaul -- Roman province in France and parts of adjacent countries
Galatia -- region in Anatolia (now central Turkey)
Galati -- county in Romania

What these areas all have in common is the Celts, groups of people
speaking various Celtic languages and sharing a Celtic culture. These
tribes were widespread in Europe by Roman times, living in what became
"our" Galicia, and what are now Spain, France, Belgium, Germany,
Switzerland, Italy, Austria, and Slovakia amongst others. Today,
however, Celtic languages are spoken only by minorities in places like
Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany (France).

Here's the connection to the place names: the Roman name for the Celts
was the Gauls (Galli in Latin) -- and not just in France. The Gauls
under the Celtic chieftain Brennus sacked Rome in the 4th century BCE.
Another Brennus invaded Macedonia (Greece) in 279 BCE, and later crossed
the Bosporus and settled in Asia Minor, giving us Galatia. Julius Caesar
finally defeated the Celts in the Gallic wars of the first century BCE.
With such a wide distribution, it is not surprising that the Gauls/Celts
have left their name all over the map.

[The Polish spelling of Galicia is Galicja; however, the area was/still
is called Malapolska (Little Poland) by the Polish. The German spelling
is Galizien.]

[Halych [Galich in Russian] is a historic city on the Dniester River in
western Ukraine. The town gave its name to the historic province and
kingdom of Kingdom of Galicia=96Volhynia, of which it was the capital
until the early 14th century, when the seat of the local princes was
moved to Lviv. The Polish name was Halicz. Source: Wikipedia]

[The connection between the Celts and Halych has been challenged. See]

Strangely, the name of the Celtic language -- Gaelic -- may have a
different origin than the above place names.

For a map of Celtic settlement throughout Europe, see:

For a brief discussion of the origin of the name of "our" Galicia (and
an alternate theory) see:

A shorter address for the Wikipedia article is
"Galicia (Central Europe)" is

Posted by Shelley K. Pollero
Severna Park, MD

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