Recorded as Brehat, Brehaut, Brehault, Breheret, Brehier, and possibly others, this is French surname but probably of pre 5th century Germanic origins. According to the Dictionnaire Etymologique de France, it probably derives from the personal name Brek-hari, which means literally broken army, but almost certainly fifteen hundred years ago must have a totally different meaning to the people of those far off days. These early pagan compound personal names were very popular, until largely swept aside by the torrent of so-called Christian names, mainly of Greek and biblical origins, which entered Northern Europe during and after the famous Crusades of the 12th century. These crusades in theory to rescue Jerusalem from the grip of the Muslims were totally unsuccessful, and have left a legacy of mistrust and animosity between religions which remains today. One of the problems with researching French surnames is that most registers of names were deliberately destroyed during the famous Revolution of 1792, making early recordings difficult to find. In this case Victorian examples include Elizabeth Victoire Brehault who married Achille Cottin at St Germain en Laye, on November 24th 1866, and Celestine Brehat at Haroue, Meurthe et Moselle on January 25th 1867.
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