The Bailiwick of Jersey is a British Crown dependency off the coast of Normandy, France. As well as the island of Jersey itself, the bailiwick includes the nearly uninhabited islands of the Minquiers, Écréhous, the Pierres de Lecq and other rocks and reefs. Together with the bailiwick of Guernsey it forms the grouping known as the Channel Islands. The defence of all these islands is the responsibility of the United Kingdom. However, Jersey is part of neither the UK nor the European Union; rather, like the Isle of Man, it is a separate possession of the Crown. Jersey belongs to the Common Travel Area.
Jersey history is influenced by its strategic location between the northern coast of France and the southern coast of England; the island's recorded history extends over a thousand years.
Evidence of bronze-age and early iron-age settlements can be found in many locations around the island. While archaeological evidence of Roman influence has been found, in particular the coastal headland site at Le Pinacle, Les Landes, where remains of a primitive structure are attributed to Roman temple worship (fanum), evidence for regular Roman occupation has yet to be established.
Formerly under the control of Brittany and named Angia, Jersey became subject to Viking influence in the ninth century, one of the "Norman Islands". The name for Jersey itself is sourced from a Viking heritage: the Norse suffix -ey for island can be found in many places around the northern European coasts. However, the significance of the first part of the island's toponym is unclear. Among theories are that it derives from jarth (Old Norse: "earth") or jarl, or perhaps a personal name, Geirr, to give "Geirr's Island". Alternatively support for a Celtic origin can be made with reference to the Gaulish gar- (oak), ceton (forest). It is also said to be a corruption of the Latin Caesarea, the Roman name for the island, influenced by Old English suffix -ey for "island".
The island was eventually annexed to the Duchy of Normandy by William Longsword, Duke of Normandy in 933; his descendant, William the Conqueror, conquered England in 1066, which led to the Duchy of Normandy and the kingdom of England being governed under one monarch. The Dukes of Normandy owned considerable estates on the island, and Norman families living on their estates founded many of the historical Norman-French Jersey family names. King John lost all his territories in mainland Normandy in 1204 to King Philip II Augustus, but retained possession of Jersey, along with Guernsey and the other Channel Islands; the islands have been internally self-governing since.
Islanders became involved with the Newfoundland fisheries in the late sixteenth century. In recognition for all the help given to him during his exile in Jersey in the 1640s, Charles II gave George Carteret, bailiff and governor, a large grant of land in the American colonies, which he promptly named New Jersey, now part of the United States of America.
Trade laid the foundations of prosperity, aided by neutrality between England and France. The Jersey way of life involved agriculture, milling, fishing, shipbuilding, and production of woollen goods until nineteenth-century improvements in transport links brought tourism to the Island.
Jersey was occupied by Nazi Germany from 1 July 1940, and was held until 9 May 1945.
Until the nineteenth century, indigenous Jèrriais — a variety of Norman French — was the language of the island, though French was used for official business. During the twentieth century, however, an intense language shift took place and Jersey today is predominantly English-speaking. Jèrriais nonetheless survives; around 2,600 islanders (three percent) are reckoned to be habitual speakers, and some 10,000 (12 percent) in all claim some knowledge of the language, particularly amongst the elderly in rural parishes. There have been efforts to revive Jèrriais in schools, and the highest number of declared Jèrriais speakers is in the capital.
Some Neolithic carvings are the earliest works of artistic character to be found in Jersey. Only fragmentary wall-paintings remain from the rich mediaeval artistic heritage, after the wholesale iconoclasm of the Calvinist reformation of the sixteenth century.
Printing arrived in Jersey only in the 1780s, but the Island supported a multitude of regular publications in French (and Jèrriais) and English throughout the nineteenth century, in which poetry, most usually topical and satirical, flourished.
John Everett Millais, Elinor Glyn, and Wace are among Jersey's artistic figures. Lillie Langtry, the Jersey Lily, is the Island's most widely recognised cultural icon. The famous French writer, Victor Hugo, lived in exile in Jersey from 1852 to 1855.
The Island is particularly famous for the Battle of Flowers, a carnival held annually since 1902. Annual music festivals include Rock in the Park, Avanchi presents Jazz in July, Jersey Live, the music section of the Jersey Eisteddfod. Other festivals include La Fête dé Noué (Christmas festival), La Faîs'sie d'Cidre (cidermaking festival), the Battle of Britain air display, food festivals, and Parish events.