The French were the island's first European settlers. They signed a treaty with the native Island Caribs in 1660. England took control of the island from 1663 to 1667. In ensuing years, it was at war with France fourteen times, and rule of the island changed frequently (it was ruled seven times each by the French and British). In 1814, the British took definitive control of the island. Because it switched so often between British and French control, Saint Lucia was also known as the "Helen of the West Indies".
One of the Windward Islands, Saint Lucia was named after Saint Lucy of Syracuse by the French, who were the island's first European settlers. It is the only country in the world named after a living woman (Ireland is named after the Celtic goddess of fertilityEire). Legend states French sailors were shipwrecked here on 13 December, the feast day of St. Lucy, thus naming the island in honor of Sainte Lucie.