Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
It is part of the Armorican Massif and lies between the estuary of the River Vire and Mont Saint Michel Bay. It is divided into three areas: the headland of La Hague , the Cotentin Pass, and the valley of the River Saire (Val-de-Saire).
The town known today as Coutances, capital of the Unelli , a Gaulish tribe, acquired the name of Constantia in 298 during the reign of Roman emperor Constantius Chlorus. The whole peninsula, called in Latin the pagus Constantinus subsequently became known as the Cotentin.
Until the construction of modern roads, the peninsula was almost inaccessible in winter due to the band of marshland cutting off the higher ground of the promontory itself. this explains occasional historical references to the Cotentin as an island.
The town of Valognes was, until the French Revolution, a provincial social resort for the aristocracy, nicknamed the Versailles of Normandy. Little remains of the grand houses and châteaux as a result of the destruction of the Battle of Normandy. The social scene was described in the novels of Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly (himself from the Cotentin).
Due to its comparative isolation, the peninsula is one of the remaining strongholds of the Norman language. The Norman language poet Côtis-Capel described the environment of the peninsula, while French language poet Jacques Prévert made his home at Omonville. The painter Jean Millet was born in the peninsula.
The Norman language writer Alfred Rossel, native of Cherbourg, composed many songs which form part of the heritage of the region. Rossel's song Sus la mé ("on the sea") is often sung as a regional patriotic song.
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