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The Channel Islands, 1370-1640

The Channel Islands, 1370-1640: Between England and Normandy

Tim Thornton
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 210
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  • Book Info
    The Channel Islands, 1370-1640
    Book Description:

    This book surveys the history of the bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey in the late medieval and early modern periods, focusing on political, social and religious history. It argues that the islands' regular tangential appearance in the mainstream historiography of England and the British Isles demonstrates the need for a more systematic history. The islands were at the forefront of the attempts by the English kings in the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries to maintain and extend their dominions in France. During the Wars of the Roses and the early Tudor period they were frequently the refuge for claimants and plotters. During the Reformation period they were a leading centre of Presbyterianism and, later, were strategically important during the continental wars of Elizabeth's reign. In addition, Thornton shows how the islands' relationship with central power in England kept changing in interesting ways, how they maintained links with Normandy, Brittany and France more widely, and how politics, religion, society and culture developed in the islands themselves. TIM THORNTON is Professor of History and Pro Vice-chancellor at the University of Huddersfield. He is the author of 'Cheshire and the Tudor State' and 'Prophecy, Politics and the People in Early Modern England', both of which are published by Boydell and Brewer.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-867-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Maps
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    The key theme of the local historiography of the Channel Islands from the seventeenth century is the claim of their unbending loyalty to the English Crown, seen here in the epistle dedicatory of Philip Falle’s highly influential Account of the Isle of Jersey (1694). This is not without foundation and expression in earlier centuries. An early instance of the explicit formulation of the idea that the islanders would rather die English than live French appears in Edward Seymour’s support for their petition for ‘neutrality’ in 1543.² Falle himself suggests, for example in considering the French attack on Bouley Bay during...

  7. 1 War, Privilege and the Norman Connection, 1370–1435
    (pp. 9-28)

    In his seminal study of the Channel Islands in the Middle Ages to 1399, John Le Patourel established that there were strong connections between the islands and the Norman mainland continuing to the first half of the fourteenth century.¹ He left unexplored, however, the developments of the later fourteenth century, while suggesting that it was likely that such connections remained: the only example he provided was of a land conveyance of 8 June 1384 by which John de St Martin purchased the inheritance of Rauline d’Anneville (the widow of Jacquet Hascoul, and daughter of Robert d’Anneville, seigneur de Briel in...

  8. 2 Military Defeat and Civil Conflict, 1435–1485
    (pp. 29-55)

    The years between 1435 and 1485 saw extraordinary transformations in England and France which could not but affect the islands. There was the initially slow decline and then rapid collapse of the English position in France. There was civil war in England; in France the contested emergence of a more assertive monarchy under Charles VII and Louis XI. The historiography has tended to turn on the consequent closer alignment of the islands with English politics and to find any loosening of control to be a side effect of weakness and conflict, and so potentially temporary. Yet we must consider whether,...

  9. 3 Centralisation and its Limits under Henry VII and Henry VIII, 1485–1547
    (pp. 56-78)

    If historians of the fifteenth century have tended to see the politics of the nobility as an articulating, even centralising, force which would override local distinctiveness, this chapter responds to an even more distinctive historiography of centralisation, as a key tenet of ‘Tudor’ policy¹ – by citing the relative lack of centralising initiatives of Henry VII and his son, for example in the continued absence of the Channel Islands from parliament and from involvement in the common law courts at Westminster. There was instead an increased role for the equity courts, but it was not one which faced no resistance or...

  10. 4 Political and Religious Strife, 1547–1569
    (pp. 79-110)

    During the period between the death of Henry VIII and the point, under Elizabeth, at which Protestantism became well established in both Guernsey and Jersey, the islands became a focus for intrigue and plotting. The mid-Tudor polity was, of course, affected by divisions over religion. This was seen in the islands, not simply as a reflection of a larger struggle in England, but as a manifestation of political and religious issues that were international and involved still open issues of allegiance, whether to England, France or Normandy.

    In many ways, the islands were at the vanguard of wider Protestant and...

  11. 5 War and the Development of Autonomy, 1570–1604
    (pp. 111-131)

    While there was to be no immediate return to military activity for the islands, the period from about 1567 saw an increase in tension that was to change the context of their development. It was ultimately to lead to a resumption of war, fought in neighbouring Normandy, the seas around the islands, and in Brittany; this raised again the strategic significance of the islands, now at a focal point of a conflict for dominance in Western Europe between Catholic France and, ultimately, Catholic Spain, and their Protestant enemies. Amongst other things, the war ensured the continued passage through the islands...

  12. 6 The Challenge of Uniformity? 1605–1640
    (pp. 132-150)

    The reigns of James and Charles see a striking divergence, between a religious policy increasingly insistent on bringing Anglicanism to the islands, and a continued tendency to strengthen jurisdictional autonomy. The growing confidence of local lay and ecclesiastical communities seen in the later part of Elizabeth’s reign became even more strikingly apparent in the face of these developments. A respect for island privileges was just as evident in the decades of peace that James’ accession ushered in as it had been in the war years of the later sixteenth century, suggesting that military crisis was not the essential or even...

  13. 7 Conclusion
    (pp. 151-158)

    At the point this study ends, the islands were about to be engulfed by events driven in large part by the crisis of the British monarchy during the 1640s. In 1642 internal dissention in Jersey saw a petition presented to the House of Lords against Sir Philip de Carteret. He claimed to be adopting a bipartisan approach, but on his return to the island, in the face of a possible French threat, he declared for the Crown; he and his supporters were soon confined to their garrisons in Mont Orgueil and Elizabeth Castle, before the island was recaptured by the...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 159-179)
  15. Index
    (pp. 180-194)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 195-195)