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Seigneurs & Feudal Rule

Europe's last Feudal state

Sark's own model of feudalism was unique and notably different from that of Medieval feudalism in other parts of the continent at that time.

Unlike Lords elsewhere, the Seigneur did not have serfs serving him, nor were his Tenants poor peasants. The Tenants of Sark were land owning farmers, heirs of the 40 prominent families that Helier DeCarteret brought over from Jersey in 1565 to colonise and defend the island on behalf of the Crown.

When the Fief changed hands and was bought by a wealthy Guernsey family, ties with Jersey began to diminish and many ancestors of the original Jersey families decided to leave Sark. Industrial shifts occurring in Europe saw prosperity come to  Guernsey and Jersey but Sark's lack of a decent harbour, amongst other things, meant that Sark did not prosper in the same way.

The agricultural community of Sark began to suffer and anti-feudal sentiments echoing those of Revolutionists elsewhere were wide-spread. From the late 1700's the people of Sark protested the rights and powers of the Seigneur and, due to the unique make-up of the political system on Sark, were relatively successful.

As for how Sark came to be the last feudal state in Europe, one could say that the the island's small and insular existence created a feudal microcosm, whereby the unique system was able to resolve matters more effectively. The disparities between rich and poor, powerful and powerless, were less than in larger places and perhaps this helped to keep full blown revolution at bay.

Sark moved to a system of democracy in 2008, not because the feudal system was broken but because Chief Pleas wished to bring Sark in line with the rest of the world and abide by human rights and other laws to better serve the community. To learn more about Sark's current government visit the Chief Pleas website.

Seigneur Michael and Diana Beaumont

Seigneural Timeline

Helier DeCarteret


Hellier, Seigneur of Saint Ouen in Jersey, came to Sark in 1563, intent on re-cultivating the island and ridding it of pirates. He was rewarded by being granted the fief in 1565 by Elizabeth I.


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