From 933 until 1204AD the Channel Islands belonged to the Duchy of Normandy. When Normandy was lost to France during the reign of King John, Jersey chose to remain loyal to the English Crown. To this day Islanders owe their allegiance not to the British government but to the Queen of England through the sovereign's ancient title of 'Duke of Normandy'. This choice resulted in the coastline of Jersey becoming heavily fortified through the ages as it sought to defend itself from it's new enemy and closest neighbour only 14 miles from the island.
When King Philippe Augustus invaded Normandy in the 13th century, King John of England ordered that money be raised to defend the Channel Islands. A castle was built at Mont Orgueil -meaning 'Mount Pride'-as the sea and cliffs on three sides gave the castle a natural defence. Additionally, the granite that the castle was built on meant that it was virtually impossible to undermine.
By the 16th century, cannon and gunpowder had become the dominant weapon of war and Mont Orgueil was now vulnerable. A new castle, which was out of range of these new weapons had to be bulit and the site chosen was on a small islet in St Aubin's Bay. Sir Walter Raleigh, who was governor of Jersey between 1600 and 1603, named it Elizabeth Castle, after his Queen, Elizabeth I. At first the fact that the castle was enclosed by the rising tide for seven out of every twelve hours was seen as an advantage. However, this was also its Achilles Heel because soldiers garrisoned there were unable to defend St. Helier when the causeway was covered by the sea. In 1781 French troops capitalised on this weakness by landing at La Rocque on the island's south east coast and capturing St.Helier with almost no resistance. After defeating the French at The Battle of Jersey it was decided that a new fortification would be built above St. Helier on Mont de la Ville , now known as Fort Regent. Elizabeth Castle was sold to the Jersey government in 1923 and apart from the period of German occupation during the Second World War its only use has been as a historical monument and more recently as a venue for civic marriages.