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Inside out Jersey.

In a welcome reappraisal of the reliability of Wace as a historical chronicler (July 2004) Valentine Fallan steps on dangerous ground when relating the events of 1204. To describe Jersey as resisting the French invasion of that year, with the 'baronial tenants' opting for self-government and alliance with King John in a 'daring diplomatic coup' leads like history as we would like it to have been.

Dr Judith Everard, who with Sir James Holt has written what is claimed to have been the definitive record of Jersey's history al that time, tells a different story (Medieval History, April 2004). According to her, the Channel islands fell to Philip Augustus in 1204, almost certainly being included in the terms of Peter de Preaux's surrender al Rouen. No known account survives of Jersey resisting the French.

Having captured the Channel islands, the French must have been expecting to hold them until, in 1205, King John sent an expedition against them, mounted from England. By May 1206, Plantagenet authority has been restored in Jersey and Guernsey. King John then took hostages from the leading families, only releasing them in 1214. He would hardly have done that if they had already demonstrated their loyalty by holding off the French.

It would seem that, wishing above all to cling onto their estates, they were willing to pledge loyalty to whichever of the two kings was physically in control.

F.E.W. Haydon

Trinity, Jersey

Val Fallan replies:

This is a complex story and it is best to read Everard's complete book. Jersey in 1204 was chaos, with attacks and counterattacks, internal dissent and no known records of formal Plantagenet government until mid-1206.

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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Haydon, F.E.W.
Publication:History Today
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Aug 1, 2004
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