How did Jersey become self-governing?
In 1204 King John lost the Battle of Rouen against the French King Philippe-Auguste. The defeat signalled the loss of continental Normandy, united with the English Crown since the invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1066. The Channel Islands, part of the Duchy of Normandy for more than a hundred years at that point, might have been expected to align themselves with the French King in 1204 but they were persuaded by a combination of carrot and stick to side with King John instead.
Among the privileges which the King granted Islanders was the right to be governed by their own laws and he instructed them to select their 12 best men as Jurats who, sitting with the Bailiff, became the Island's Royal Court. A warden, later to become governor, was appointed by the King to organise the defence of the Island.
The constitutional position which Jersey enjoys today is founded on these links with the English Crown confirmed in Royal Charters by subsequent monarchs. Over a period of time, the Royal Court began to consult with the people through the Constables (or Connétables) of the parishes and with the church through the rectors. This consultation with the 3 estates of court, people and church was eventually formalised into what we now know as the States of Jersey. Significant constitutional changes in 1856 and 1948 saw the introduction of Deputies and Senators into the States and the removal of the Jurats and the rectors. However, the 12 Jurats remain the lay members of the Royal Court and are today chosen by an electoral college comprising members of the court and the States.
Jersey's cultural heritage is also evident in its customs and traditions, in its language (Jèrriais) and in its range of architecture.
For more information
Find out more about Jersey's history on a number of other websites.
More about the history of the Jersey legislature, the States of Jersey and full details of the workings of the Assembly is available on the States Assembly website.
The Jersey Heritage Trust was established by the States of Jersey to care for and promote our Island heritage. The Trust runs the Island's museums, castles, archives and a number of important sites as well as providing advice to government on heritage issues.
The National Trust for Jersey is an independent and charitable organisation dedicated to preserving and safeguarding sites of historic, aesthetic and natural interest for the benefit of the Island.
The Channel Islands Occupation Society has branches in Jersey and Guernsey and opens a number of the Island's World War Two fortifications, in addition to publishing research on the occupation.
In addition to the information and diary pages on these sites, there are also listings of events taking place in the Island on Jersey.com.
States Assembly website
La Société Jersiaise website
The National Trust for Jersey website
Channel Islands Occupation Society website
Events on Jersey.com website