Feudal Court

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For a long period, from the time before the Norman Conquest of 1066 brought the Channel Islands under the control of the English monarch until well into the Middle Ages, the power in the islands lay with the Seigneurs of individual fiefs.

It is believed that the fiefs predate the divison of the islands into parishes, which were for a long time purely ecclesiastical divisions. Despite their relatively small sizes, Guernsey and Jersey were slow to develop central administrations around their Royal Courts and the seigneurs of the larger and more important fiefs oversaw all administrative functions, including tax gathering and the maintenance of such roads as existed, and administered justice through their own courts.

The nature of justice and the penalties imposed at the time meant that some of the fiefs had their own gallows and the seigneurs literally held the power of life or death over their tenants.

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