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The Historia Brittonum claimed legendary origins as a prestigious genealogy for Brittonic kings, followed by the Historia Regum Britanniae which popularised this pseudo-history to support the claims of the Kings of England.During the Middle Ages, and particularly in the Tudor period, the term "British" was used to refer to the Welsh people and Cornish people. This legendary Celtic history of Great Britain is known as the Matter of Britain.

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Later, with both an English Reformation and a Scottish Reformation, Edward VI of England, under the counsel of Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, advocated a union with the Kingdom of Scotland, joining England, Wales, and Scotland in a united Protestant Great Britain.

The Duke of Somerset supported the unification of the English, Welsh and Scots under the "indifferent old name of Britons" on the basis that their monarchies "both derived from a Pre-Roman British monarchy".

The St George's Cross and St Andrew's saltire were "joined together ...

to be published to our Subjects." Despite centuries of military and religious conflict, the Kingdoms of England and Scotland had been "drawing increasingly together" since the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century and the Union of the Crowns in 1603.

In this sub-Roman Britain, as Anglo-Saxon culture spread across southern and eastern Britain and Gaelic through much of the north, the demonym "Briton" became restricted to the Brittonic-speaking inhabitants of what would later be called Wales, Cornwall, North West England (Cumbria), and parts of Scotland In addition the term was also applied to Brittany in what is today France and Britonia in north west Spain, both regions having been colonised by Britons in the 5th century fleeing the Anglo-Saxon invasions.

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