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"Why didnít Napoleon invade the Channel Islands?" Topic

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Tango0105 Mar 2018 9:49 p.m. PST

"Given that Britain and France were at war almost permanently between 1792 and 1814, it does seem strange that Napoleon Bonaparte made no effort to occupy what were almost exclusively French-speaking islands just a few miles off the French coast. The harsh truth is that it was never really worth his time to make the effort.

The islands had long had a strategic importance in naval warfare that far exceeded the intrinsic worth of the farming produce of the islands. Earlier in the 18th century, Britain had fortified most of the harbours with gun batteries, garrisoned the islands with infantry, and naval ships were frequently on hand. Moreover, the local militia was well-drilled and could put over 3,000 men into the field at 24 hours' notice…."
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Personal logo Virtualscratchbuilder Supporting Member of TMP Fezian06 Mar 2018 5:53 a.m. PST

My guess would be that since the French fleet could not leave port on a whim due to the blockade and frequently contrary winds, steadily resupplying the islands would have been problematic. The problems (and results) of trying to invade the islands would probably not be any different from the problems encountered when the French attempted to send a military force to Ireland.

mwindsorfw Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2018 8:09 a.m. PST

Why bother? Do the Channel Islands really get you much of an advantage?

Bob the Temple Builder06 Mar 2018 10:30 a.m. PST


The Channel Islands were a potential base/safe refuge for British blockaders. That said, British attempts to build an anchorage during the mid nineteenth century were abandoned because of the tides.

From an invaders point if view, the tides, rocky coast, and cliffs made a landing difficult. The only successful landing was made possible by an renegade Jerseyman who navigated the French attackers through the narrow channel at La Rocque at the southern end of Grouville Bay.

gunnerphil07 Mar 2018 6:15 a.m. PST

Perhaps he needed an off shore tax haven. One way round French tax people

Garde de Paris07 Mar 2018 11:32 a.m. PST

Napoleon was in so many ways a wise man. He realized these islands would simply be starved into submission, and he'd lose his troops, if he ever captured them

When Leclerc and his troops were killed off by Yellow Fever in the West Indies, Napoleon decided to sell the Louisiana Purchase to the US. He expected the British Navy to take it from him anyway.

The truly bizarre and amazing part of this sale is that the US went to British bankers to finance the purchase!


Tango0107 Mar 2018 12:48 p.m. PST



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