The first traces of settlement can be traced the 5th century. Schortens was first mentioned in 1158 when the P C Stephanus Church, whose founding can be traced back to the times of the feud between Oestringern and the Wangerern. In the Middle Ages, the monastery of Oestringfelde, which was also used as an asylum, was well known for its horse breeding.
During the second half of the 1900s, the naval base Wilhelmshaven contributed greatly to the development of the town. Many workers settled down in what would become central Schortens, a railway connection to Jever, established in 1871 also contributed to the development of the town. After the end of World War I, the production of warships ceased and unemployment escalated. From 1946, a steady stream of refugees have moved to Schortens, increasing the population greatly. The deployment of the opympia base in Roffhausen during World War II is also seen as an important stage in the development of the town.
In 1933 Schortens united with the towns of Cleverns and Sande to form the Greater Oestringen, this union was however dissolved during World War II.
In 1936 an air force base in Upjever was opened, which is still in use today.
Schortens received municipal rights on January 21, 2005. Since June 1, 2005, the city of Schortens is an independent municipality.