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Origin of the Name "Wales".

A New Appreciation

The Welsh call their land "Cymru". The term Wales is considered to be of English origin and to derive from a Germanic root meaning "Foreigner".
We propose that the name "Wales" was indeed of Welsh Origin and connoted "Land of Bile" and that its original form was "Bale" or "Vale".
This became the Latin Term "Valentia" that applied to the original region of "Cymru".
"Valentia" was probably pronounced as "Walentia" and in English this became "Wales"!

Valentia was a Province of Britain under the Romans.
The Wikipedia says:
# Its exact location remains uncertain. The name's closeness to the Latin word for wall (valens) has led to the suggestion that it straddled Hadrian's Wall, or entity between Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall. #

The Wikipedia article however also admits that this is supposition and that it is uncertain where Valentia was though assumed to be in the North. It says the name may be derived from the Latin for wall "valens"  but admits that this too is supposition.

People from this region moved into Northern Wales about the same time as the Anglo-Saxons were conquering England. The Welsh of North Wales considered the people of this region to be part of themselves and of the same stock. 

Thomas Burns ("A History of the Ostro-Goths", USA, 1984, p.62) for the 300s-400s CE has Valentia encompassing western Britain i.e. Cornwall, Wales, and  the western coast of England north of Wales. This more or less overlaps the definition of Wales in Ancient Times before its size was reduced by foreign incursions.
The "V" and "W" in Latin interchange. Valentia was probably pronounced as "Walentia". Walentia could mean "Land of Wales".

"Valentia" was also the name of a Province and city in Southeast Spain ("Valencia").
Valencia, Spain,_Spain
# The original Latin name of the city was Valentia (Latin pronunciation: /wa'lentia/), meaning "strength", "valour", the city being named for the Roman practice of recognizing the valour of former Roman soldiers after a war. The Roman historian Titus Livius (Livy) explains that the founding of Valentia in the 2nd century BC was due to the settling of the Roman soldiers who fought against Iberian local rebel, Viriatus. #

We suggest that the name "Wales" derived from  the Roman "Valentia". Conventional explanations attribute the name to an Anglo-Saxon terms meaning "foreigner".  We do not necessarily dispute this but rather propose that the Anglo-Saxons took an existing name and re-interpreted it in terms of their own language. Such re-interpretation of existing names in ancient times was a common phenomenon.

Wikipedia: Wales
Etymology of Wales

# The Anglo-Saxon word for 'foreign' or 'foreigner' was
Waelisc and a 'foreign(er's) land' was called Walas. The modern English forms of these words with respect to the modern country are Welsh (the people) and Wales (the land), respectively.

# Historically in Britain the words were not restricted to modern Wales or to the Welsh but were used indiscriminately to refer to anything that the Anglo-Saxons associated with Celtic Britons, including other foreign lands (e.g., Cornwall), places once associated with Celtic Britons (e.g., Walworth in County Durham and Walton in West Yorkshire),[19] the surnames of people (e.g., Walsh and Wallace) and various other things that were once new and foreign to the Anglo-Saxons (e.g., the walnut). None of these historic usages is necessarily connected to Wales or the Welsh.

# The Anglo-Saxon words are derived from the same Germanic root (singular Walh, plural Walha) that has provided modern names for Continental lands (e.g., Wallonia and Wallachia) and peoples (e.g., the Vlachs via a borrowing into Old Church Slavonic),[21][22][23] none of which have any connection to Wales or the Welsh.

We have here a commonly held etymological explanation for "Wales" and "Welsh".
It could be however that (as commonly happens) the Anglo-Saxons took an existing name and re-interpreted it in terms of their own culture.

Wales in Welsh is Cymru (pronounced "Kamru"? meaning "Land of the Cymry") or sometimes Gomru.

Wikipedia: Wales
Etymology of Cymru
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Moliant Cadwallon

The modern Welsh name for themselves is
Cymry, and Cymru is Welsh for "Land of the Cymry". The etymological origin of Cymry is from the Brythonic word combrogi, meaning "fellow-countrymen".[24] The use of the word Cymry as a self-designation derives from the post-Roman Era relationship of the Welsh with the Brythonic-speaking peoples of northern England and southern Scotland, the peoples of Yr Hen Ogledd (English: The Old North). In its original use, it amounted to a self-perception that the Welsh and the "Men of the North" were one people, exclusive of all others.[25] In particular, the term was not applied to the Cornish or the Breton peoples, who are of similar heritage, culture, and language to both the Welsh and the Men of the North. The word came into use as a self-description probably before the 7th century.[26] It is attested in a praise poem to Cadwallon ap Cadfan (Moliant Cadwallon, by Afan Ferddig) c. 633.[27] In Welsh literature, the word Cymry was used throughout the Middle Ages to describe the Welsh, though the older, more generic term Brythoniaid continued to be used to describe any of the Britonnic peoples (including the Welsh) and was the more common literary term until c. 1100. Thereafter Cymry prevailed as a reference to the Welsh. Until circa 1560 Cymry was used indiscriminately to mean either the people (Cymry) or their homeland (Cymru).[24]

The Latinised form of the name is Cambria. Outside of Wales this form survives as the name of Cumbria in North West England, which was once a part of Yr Hen Ogledd.

In Summary, the Welsh referred to Wales as Cymru. Historically the term "Cymru" encompassed North Wales, North England, and Southern Scotland all of which areas were referred to by the Romans as Valentia or "Walentia". "Valentia" derives from the Welsh term "Wale" or "Bile". Britain in general was considered "the Honey Isle of Bile".  Bile equals the Celtic Belenus, or Bel who is identical with Baal of Ancient Canaan and Bel of Mesopotamia.
# Belenus is also written: Bel, Belenos, Belinos, Belinu, Bellinus, and Belus.#
Both the Celtic Bel (Belenus) and the Near Eastern Baal (Bel) were sun-gods and apart from their name quite a few similarities exist between them.
Baal was known to the Phoenicians as "Baal-samayim" (lord of heaven) and in Gaul the similarly named Belisamus was a consort of Belinus.
The earliest British monarch known definitedly to history is Caswallon or Cassivelaunos (Cassiuelaonos) Catuvellaunt,ca 48 BC ruler of the Catuvellauni in east England. He was the son of Beli and brother of Lud and had established himself as the high-king of the British tribes.
It has been suggested (by Xavier Delamarre) that this name Cassivelaunos means "The Prince of Tin" with the end part of his name meaning "ruler".
# "Vellaunos" as "ruler" is fundamentally beyond doubt.# David Stifter.
Another proposed explanation is that,
#the tribe name Catuvellauni itself means 'The Host of Belinos' and their most well-known leader Cassivellaunos' name means 'The Devotee of Belenos'.#
This proposal however is speculative and the explanation that valaunus meant ruler (in the name Cassivellaunos) appears the most consistent with British Nomenclature.
At all events "bal" or "val" connoted ruler.
In both Semitic and Celtic nomenclature the sounds of "v" and "b" are interchangeable.
In other words we have the term "val" (equals bal) meaning ruler. This is the same meaning as the word "Baal" has in Hebrew! Bile in Welsh tradition was the god of the dead and consort of the goddess Don.
Bile and Don were considered ancestors of the Welsh.
The husband and wife combination of the gods Bile and Dana is also recalled in Irish mythology.

See Also:
Don and Bile. The Welsh Version of their Origins
The name "Wales" derives from Bile. The term Valentia at first was applied to that portion of the Welsh identified with Cymru and the Cymry.
Later the name was applied to Wales itself. The Anglo-Saxons identified the native British and Welsh as foreigners and assimilated the existing term "Valentia" (Walentia) to a similar sound ("Walas") in their own tongue. This term also had significance to the Anglo-Saxons in the English language of that time.
Such linguistic adoptions and adaptations and revised interpretations by outsiders of existing names are quite frequent.

Various Celtic Traditions
List of Contents.

See also:
A list of Articles on similar themes:
Western Hebrew-Celtic Culture.