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

Guernsey Post Office was established 1st
Guernsey switched to Reichsmarks 2nd
Sark was the target of Operation Basalt 3rd
Sark voted for democracy 4th
Guernsey lifeboat saved a Swedish schooner 5th
Jeeves actor died in Guernsey 6th
Sarnia Theatre celebrated its most successful year 7th
The Story of Adele H opened in cinemas 8th
Howards’ Way came to Guernsey 9th
Guernsey Ladies’ College opened 10th
A Trislander ate itself between Jersey and Guernsey 11th
The Channel Islands’ king set sail for England 12th
Major General Sir Isaac Brock died 13th
Footballer Matt Le Tissier was born 14th
Island FM brings commercial radio to Guernsey 15th
Channel Television saw off a rival broadcaster 16th
The first mines were dug on Sark 17th
Sark’s Stocks Hotel was damaged by fire 18th
Elizabeth College’s foundation stone was laid 19th
Hitler ordered the Channel Islands’ fortification 20th
Guernsey’s stone crackers demanded a pay rise 21st
The desalination plant opened 22nd
Sir Charles Hayward buys Jethou for £91,000 23rd
Guernsey Monopoly board game went on sale 24th
Dame Sibyl Hathaway chose her Desert Island Discs 25th
GUNS founder Charles Machon died 26th
Bailiff Sir Peter de Havilland was born 27th
A man “disappeared” from a Guernsey ferry 28th
Express & Star bought Guernsey Press 29th
The first lighthouses were built on the Casquets 30th
States of Guernsey voted to lower the voting age 31st