Why did France never lay claim to the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey from the UK?

Victor Hugo sum it up by saying that Guernsey and Jersey were “pieces of France that fall into the water and were picked up by the British”.

When William the Conqueror from Normandy became king of England in 1066, the islands became part of the Kingdom of England with him. During the following decades, the habitants asked to stay under protection of the English Crown, afraid from the intervention of the French crown that was quite a demanding administration already.

During the Reformation, it became a harbor for protestants seeking refuge from persecution by the French Catholic church. The catholics had no strong presence on the island, so the newcomers organised quickly into a society of their own. In a few decades, the islands became a haven from the protestant community in exile. The strange mix of Anglican cult and episcopal organisation inherited from the Norman Catholic Church made miracles and the islands went on thriving silently. The English administration had a hard time controlling these radical islanders that were suspicious and despised the Queen herself.

When persecution started again in France in 16th century, the English decided to use the islands to exfiltrate protestants from France. The Huguenots (French protestants) brought with them this new faith in hard work, soon making the islands a wealthy and even more religious place. Later, many of these families played an important role in the colonisation of the American continent.

Basically, the islands was populated by French people that has been chased from France. They hated the French more than anything. One thing shared by England, that happily seized and preserved such a nice crowd of French haters. For this reason, the French never managed to take it back despite numerous attempts of occupying the place.

In the 20th century, the religious craze has fade away and it become sort of useless to the UK. Churchill literally abandoned the islands to the Nazi. Postwar they tried to make it a GBP tax haven, with very mixed results esp for the local population that has been suffering from raising prices AFAIK.

This text was originally published in quora.

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