CORNWALL (KERNOW): The peninsula that juts into the Atlantic between Wales and Brittany on the far southwest corner of Britain, Cornwall had the unhappy distinction of being the first Celtic nation to be overrun, falling to the Saxons at the end of the Seventh Century. The native Cornish language remained, and achieved literary distinction in the cycle of Medieval mystery plays known as the Cornish Ordinalia. The language remained in daily use in parts of Cornwall until at least the late 1700s, and possibly some time thereafter. A language revival was launched in the late 1800s, and has succeeded in preserving the language, notably in a Cornish version of the Welsh Eisteddfod presided over by the Cornish Gorsedd of the Bards.
Cornwall was the scene of several uprisings in the Middle Ages, notably risings in support of royal pretenders Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck against, ironically, an English King Henry Tudor who himself was of Welsh origin. Most famous was the bloodily-suppressed Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549 against the imposition of the Protestant (and English-language) Book of Common Prayer. The spirit of Cornish separateness has been maintained in a variety of ways, including the existence of a Stannary Parliament that governed the Cornish tin-mining industry, and whose continued legal existence was recently invoked to nullify Margaret Thatchers Poll Tax in the 1980s. Although the language movement remains bitterly divided at times among proponents of competing spelling systems for the revived language, the Cornish independence movement carrys on under the representation of the nationalist party Mebion Kernow.
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