A few years ago I discovered people on the island of Guernsey were reading my blog (link below) and it got me interested enough to find out about the island. The island has a mixed British-Norman culture, although British cultural influence is stronger, with English being the main language and the Pound sterling its primary currency. The island has a traditional local language known as Guernésiais (link below).
And I discovered it has an interesting history.
Roman settlements on the island, and the discovery of amphorae from the Herculaneum area and Spain indicate an intricate trading network with regional and long-distance trade. Buildings found in La Plaiderie, St Peter Port, dating from 100 to 400 AD appear to be warehouses.
In the late 5th century, Saint Sampson
, later the abbot of Dol
in Brittany, is credited with the introduction of Christianity to Guernsey.
In 1372, the island was invaded by Aragonese
mercenaries under the command of Owain Lawgoch
(remembered as Yvon de Galles
), who was in the pay of the French king. Owain and his dark-haired mercenaries were later absorbed into Guernsey legend as invading fairies
from across the sea and responsible for rings found on the island (links below
As part of the peace between England and France in 1483, Pope Sixtus IV
issued a Papal bull
granting the Privilege of Neutrality
, by which the Islands, their harbours and seas, as far as the eye can see, were considered neutral territory. A Royal Charter
in 1548 confirmed the neutrality. The French attempted to invade Jersey a year later in 1549 but were defeated by the militia
. The neutrality lasted another century, until William III of England
abolished the privilege due to privateering activity against Dutch ships.
In the mid-16th century, the island was influenced by Calvinist reformers from Normandy. During the Marian persecutions, three women, the Guernsey Martyrs, were burned at the stake for their Protestant beliefs, along with the infant son of one of the women. The burning of the infant was ordered by Bailiff Hellier Gosselin, with the advice of priests nearby who said the boy should burn due to having inherited moral stain from his mother.
During the English Civil War
, Guernsey sided with the Parliamentarians
. The allegiance was not total, however; there were a few Royalist uprisings in the southwest of the island, while Castle Cornet
was occupied by the Governor, Sir Peter Osborne
, and Royalist troops. In December 1651, Castle Cornet
was surrendered – the last Royalist outpost anywhere in the British Isles to surrender.
By the beginning of the 18th century, Guernsey
residents were starting to settle in North America, in particular founding Guernsey County
The early 19th century saw an increase in the prosperity of the island, due to its success in the global maritime trade
, and the rise of the stone industry. Maritime trade suffered a major decline with the move away from sailing craft as materials such as iron and steel were not available on the island.
and Jersey were both liberated on 9 May 1945, now celebrated as Liberation Day
on the two islands. The German forces surrendered unconditionally aboard the vessel at dawn. British forces landed in St Peter Port shortly afterwards, greeted by crowds of joyous but malnourished islanders singing, amongst other patriotic songs, Sarnia-Cherie
, the unofficial anthem