This Month’s Guest Author
The title of this story is…
What’s In a Name
by Mike Crompton
In the English Channel lies a small group of islands called, appropriately, The Channel Islands. They are only 14 miles off the northern shore of France but are part of the U.K. They have a unique and special relationship with the Queen (or King) of England and are basically self-governing. Their location south of, and warmer, than the rest of the U.K. makes them a popular summer vacation spot. The two main islands are also world famous for their unique but different breeds of dairy cattle.
Way back in 1000 AD they were part of Normandy in what is now Northern France. In 1066 William, the king of Normandy invaded and conquered Britain. He is now known of course, as ‘William the Conqueror’. The Channel Islands remained part of the Norman Empire which now included Britain.
In the following years, many battles raged amongst the countries in that part of Europe, including England. Borders changed, treaties were made and broken and some countries were totally wiped out. When Normandy ceased to exist as a separate country the Channel Islands were given the option of becoming a French colony or joining England. They chose England.
Fast forward to the English civil war that pitted Oliver Cromwell, a fierce advocate of democracies, against the corrupt royalists led by King Charles the first, whom he hated with a passion. The King and his court ruled the land as a total dictatorship doing anything or everything whenever they desired. The common English people were basically oppressed, slaves and serfs.
Cromwell’s troops were known as ‘The Roundheads’ due to the dome-shaped metal helmets they used as head protection. The rest of their ‘uniform’ usually consisted of drab but functional grey pants and tunics. Swords and long-handled axe pikes were their weapons of choice.
The Royalist soldiers were known as ‘The Cavaliers’. Their flamboyant style of dress embodied fancy trousers tucked into calf-length boots, colorful ruffled shirts, and embroidered jackets. The entire ensemble was topped off by a large brimmed floppy hat with an ostrich feather in the headband. Long fancy swords in decorated scabbards hung from their waistbands.
During this civil war, the Channel Islands were torn on whom to support. The largest island backed King Charles and the royalist ‘Cavaliers’. The second largest went with Cromwell and his ‘Round Heads’, who of course won.
Charles the first lost not only the war and his kingdom but also his head. England was now, for the first time a republic ruled by Cromwell and a new parliament. He proceeded to destroy many of the royalist’s strongholds. Castles and huge country estates were blown up and remain in ruins to this day. His hatred of all things ‘Royal’ knew no bounds.
A few years later Charles the second was invited from exile in France to become the King of England. To return he must accept the new rules that Cromwell had instituted when he established parliament. These rules removed the dictatorial powers of the crown and made the King basically a figurehead with limited powers.
Once established under the new rules, the king rewarded some of his loyal subjects who had stood by him during the civil war. The governor of the biggest of the Channel Islands, who had been a staunch Royalist, was given a large tract of land. It was across the Atlantic in the Northeast of the New World, the English colony of America. The land quickly grew in popularity and became quite heavily populated with immigrants looking for a new life.
The governor thought it would be a good idea to name ‘his piece’ of the New World after his home island, the largest in the English Channel. That island was called Jersey and the governor’s new land became……‘NEW JERSEY’.