The date 1066 is probably the easiest to remember of all English History. The Battle of Hastings, the last time England was successfully invaded by a foreign ruler.
For the Channel Islands, the date is 933. That’s the year in which the islands were taken over by the Normans. They had already been given ‘Normandy’ in 911 by the French king. This is the time when the islands start to become like they are today. The islands’ languages Serquaise, Guernesiais, Jerrais and Auregnaise are all versions of Norman French. Norman law began to be used in the islands and is still used (a bit) in the courts today. Most local place names and family names are also Norman. Many of the quaint customs of the islands also date back to these times.
Archaeology is no longer the only thing we have to find out what was happening in the islands as there is more written history. We know the names of the Norman Dukes who ruled us, and some of their knights and bishops. Land in the islands was given to the great monestaries in France, such as Mont St Michel. This was the start of the Middle Ages.
Back at the Battle of Hastings, the Norman knights defeated the Anglo-Saxons and killed their king. Duke William of Normandy became King William I of England as well. As the islands were Norman by that time, it means we were on the winning side! In the year 1204 the French took over the whole of Normandy, except for the Channel Islands. It is because the islands were this last piece of Normandy that they have never become part of England. This strange turn of history explains how the islands come to have their own government even today.