|Saint-Malo during the Middle Ages was a fortified island at the mouth of the Rance River, controlling not only the estuary but the open sea beyond. The promontory fort of Alet, south of the modern centre in what is now the Saint-Servan district, commanded approaches to the Rance even before the Romans, but modern Saint-Malo traces its origins to a monastic settlement founded by Saint Aaron and Saint Brendan early in the 6th century. Its name is derived from a man said to have been a follower of Brendan, Saint Malo.|
In later centuries it became notorious as the home of a fierce breed of pirate-mariners, who were never quite under anyone's control but their own; for 4 years from 1590, Saint-Malo even declared itself to be an independent republic, taking up the motto "not French, not Breton, but Malois". The Corsairs of Saint-Malo not only forced English ships passing up the Channel to pay tribute, but also brought wealth from further afield. Jacques Cartier, who sailed the St Lawrence river and visited the sites of Quebec City and Montréal - and is thus credited as the discoverer of Canada, lived in and sailed from Saint-Malo, as did the first colonists to settle the Falklands – hence the islands' Argentinian name, Las Malvinas, from the French Malouins.
Saint Malo was nearly fully destroyed in 1944 due to very strong german resistance on Cezembre island. The city has been then rebuilt "as original" including the old Walls and fortifications.