Popular History of Jersey Chapter 2

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Before the Normans

Caesar

There is some little doubt as to what race of people inhabited Jersey just prior to what may he termed purely historical times, though there is every reason to believe that it was made a dwelling-place both by Basques and Kelts, settlers from Germany and Scandinavia also frequenting the place, whilst there is some evidence to show that it was not unknown to the Romans, Falle, amongst other historians, going even so far as to believe that Caesar himself was a visitor here, though the remains of the encampments known at the present time as La petite Case, are wanting in the main characteristics of Roman work.

The first time, however, that the Island became famous, was when Helerius, a Christian hermit, whose dwelling place is still shown at Elizabeth Castle, was brutally murdered by those Norman pirates who at that time ravaged the coast, and one of whose descendants, a nobleman, that is to say, of the same race, in after days founded the Abbey called "L'Abbaye de St Helier", from which the present town takes its name.

Pirates

Then coming to later times, for the space of about eighty years — 837 to 912 AD — there is no doubt but that Jersey was the scene of piratical outrages. Charles the Simple of France (who married the daughter of Edward the Elder of England), however, put an end to these disturbances by compounding with the Norman trader and sea-rover, Rollo, who was the leader of them, but whose name is even still revered on the Island, and worthily so, for he became a powerful ruler both over Jersey and the adjacent places.

First embracing Christianity and being baptised in the Christian faith, he was, on these conditions, granted by Charles the Simple of France not only the Island of Jersey but also that considerable portion of the mainland of the Continent now called Normandy. The beneficial influence of Rollo, it may be mentioned, is yet to be found in the peculiar appeal called Clameur de Haro, which is still available in the case of any encroachment upon property: the person so trespassed upon going on his knees, and, in the presence of witnesses, exclaiming "Haro, Haro, a l'aide, mon prince," when the appeal must be respected and the alleged wrong at once ceased — until it has been adjudicated upon by the Royal Court.

Then from the time of Rollo six Dukes of Normandy were lords and masters of the Island — William Longsword (son of Rollo), Richard the Intrepid, Richard II, so-called The Good, Richard III, who, dying unmarried, left his Duchy to Robert the Magnificent, and William the Conqueror, a son of Arlette, daughter of a tanner of Falaise and born at that same place, according to the best historical accounts, 1027 or 1028.

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