Early French attacks

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Early French attacks

Du Guesclin attacks Mont Orgueil 1373 Rybot 1939.jpg

A 1939 painting by Rybot of the attack on Mont Orgueil by du Guesclin

Jersey has been invaded several times by the French since the Channel Islands split from the Duchy of Normandy in 1204. The event which is known to most people, probably because of the name it was given, is the The Battle of Jersey but on this occasion the invasion lasted a mere 24 hours, whereas earlier in history Jersey was occupied in whole or part by French invaders for up to several years

Most of the attacks either involved privateers and mercenaries, marauding in the English Channel with the tacit approval of the French government, or revenge attacks during periods of conflict between England and France. Few were intended specifically to recapture the islands as French territory. On several occasions the Channel Islands were left largely undefended by the English and homes were burned and looted while the garrison retreated to Mont Orgueil Castle.

After one such raid in the 13th century the islanders petitioned King Edward I, stating that 1500 inhabitants had been killed, their houses and corn burned and their churches sacket. The King ordered compensation to be given to the islanders.

1204 to 1217

Most historians record that after the split between King John and France in 1204, Jersey's principal landowners sided with England and the island became a Crown Dependency. However, the official history commissioned to commemorate the 800th anniversary of that event Jersey 1204 - the forging of an island community suggests that England and France fought tooth and nail over the Channel Islands for another 13 years and that the big celebration should be delayed until 2017. Full story→.

Death of de Barentin

A little documented raid on Jersey in about 1319 led to the death of the Warden, Drew de Barentin while defending Mont Orgueil castle. The French were then beaten off by forces led by Renaud de Carteret, who then joined up with a British fleet to relieve Guernsey, which had next been attacked.

Scot attacks

The Scots and the French have frequently been allies against the English, and this allegiance led to a Scottish king leading an attack on the Channel Islands in 1336. David Bruce, the son of Robert the Bruce, who had been crowned David II of Scotland, was in exile in France when he led the attack on the islands. This led English King Edward II to proclaim: “David Bruce, with other Scots and their adherents, has attacked Jersey and Guernsey, inhumanly committing arson, murder and diverse other atrocities.”

A year later, fearing another attack, Edward ordered the Warden of the Isles, Thomas de Ferrers, to assemble a local force which could repel invaders. This force is believed to have been the foundation of the Jersey Militia. Fortunately it was not needed on this occasion because Bruce set out to reclaim his throne in Scotland and the French were preoccupied with the fight against England during the Hundred Years War.

Bertrand du Guesclin

In 1373, During the Hundred Years War, Bertrand du Guesclin, a Breton Knight and Constable of France, invaded Jersey with a large force and laid seige to Mont Orgueil Castle until reinforcements arrived and he was forced to abandon his attempt to conquer the island. Full story→

Hundred Years War

The Channel Islands were constantly at threat of invasion as England and France fought the Hundred Years War. Full story→

Don Pero Nino

In 1406, as war broke out between Britain and France, Jersey was again attacked. Full story→

Comte Maulevrier

In 1461 Jersey and the other Channel Islands were given to the French by the wife of the reigning Monarch and occupied for over seven years. Full story→

Francois Breuil

In 1549 Breuil attacked Sark on behalf of King Henry II of France. The French held the island for nine years then went on to attack Guernsey and Jersey. Full story→

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