12th October 1066

Channel Islands’ king sails for the mainland

Every British school child knows the significance of 1066. That was the year Norman duke William “the Conqueror” invaded England and killed King Harold with an arrow. The arrow supposedly pierced Harold in the eye, but this isn’t known for sure. Neither does anyone really know whether William had fired it. In all likelihood it was sent flying by one of his archers.

Although the most obvious outcome is clear – that William became king of England – the secondary implication is less evident. As Duke of Normandy, William was ruler of the Channel Islands. Thus, it could be said, Jersey’s side won and England lost. In the process, England was joined to the Channel Islands, rather than the other way around. That technically made the Channel Islands the senior partner in the union.

William sets sail

Guillaume le Batard (William the Bastard), later to be known as William the Conqueror, set sail for England on 12 October to play his part in a three-way fight over the British crown. When Edward the Confessor had died, his brother-in-law, Harold Godwinson, claimed that Edward had bequeathed him the throne on his death-bed. Not so, claimed both Harald Hadara, the Norwegian King, and William (the Conqueror) of Normandy.

So, Harold was faced with threats to his power from both north and south. Harald invaded via Scotland but was beaten. William invaded from the south and made it as far as Hastings before Harold and the English forces arrived. The rest is, literally, history. The Battle of Hastings took place on 14 October, two days after William set sail. The English troops were defeated and the English throne became part of the kingdom that already encompassed Jersey. William was crowned at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066.


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Other events that occured in October

  • Jersey convict William Prynne dies
  • Author and lawyer William Prynne was a strict puritan who shunned Christmas and any other frivolity, including public entertainment. In 1632 he published a book running to more than 1000 pages damning stage plays and those who acted in them, claiming that they were immoral, illegal and against scripture. It backfired spectacularly as its publication, […]
  • Read more…