12th October 1066

The Channel Islands’ king set sail for England

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 something we can say for sure. Neither does anyone really know whether William had fired it. In all likelihood it was actually sent flying by one of his archers.

Bayeux Tapestry

Although the most obvious implication is clear – that William became king of England – the secondary outcome is less obvious. As the Norman duke, William was already ruler of Guernsey and the rest of the Channel Islands. Thus, it could be said, Guernsey’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.

Events unfolding

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 eventual 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 Guernsey.

William was crowned at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066.


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Other events that occured in October