The Bretons, who most nearly represent the Celts, and the Basques, who inhabit parts of the western versant of the Pyrenees, have preserved their distinctive languages and customs, and are ethnically the most interesting sections of the nation; the Flemings of French Flanders where Flemish is still spoken are also racially distinct.
In 1076 he invaded Brittany to get possession of the fugitive earl of Norfolk; but Philip of France came to the aid of the Bretons, and William gave way before his suzerain.
The neighbouring lords attacked and ravaged the municipal territories; grave injuries were inflicted by the mercenary bands, especially by the Bretons and Gascons.
The Bretons hoped that their young prince would uphold their independence, which was threatened by the English.
Placed Florence under an interdict, ordered the expulsion of all Florentines from foreign countries, and engaged a ferocious company of Bretons to invade the republic's territory.