Information On The Hundred Years War

Information on the hundred years war: The Hundred Years War is a term given to a period of regular fighting between England and France in the time period 1337 to 1453.

The Hundred Years War is a term given to a period of regular fighting between England and France in the time period 1337 to 1453. It was not, as the title would have you believe, a single war that lasted (roughly) one hundred years. Rather it was characterised by years of fighting followed by years of uneasy peace, due to a truce being made.

There are several reasons for the occurrence of the war. Firstly, Edward III of England claimed to be the legal heir to the French throne. His mother, Isobel was sister to Charles IV of France, which made Edward the only direct heir following Charles' death. The French though, couldn't stomach the idea of an Englishman ruling over them, and after searching through reams of archaic laws, ruled that the heir could not be descended from a female, and so awarded the title of King to Philip VI, a cousin of Charles IV.

From the times of William The Conqueror, England had controlled vast areas of France, particularly in the South. They were constantly viewed as threatening by the French monarchy. If the English were to invade they would be able to utilise a pincer movement from the South of France as well as from their own country.

In retaliation, the French needed a pincer movement of their own. They achieved this by siding with the Scottish, who attacked England from the North whilst France was able to do so from the South. This highlights how vital the English Channel was to both sides. If the English controlled it they could prevent a French invasion, and mount attacks on the North France coast at will. If the French controlled it, they could make use of the dreaded pincer movement, with the help of the Scots.

What made the Channel all the more important was its prolific use as a trade route. The English sold all their fleeces, their main export by far, to be turned into cloth in Flanders. They also had a good relationship with the Flemish, and to make sure the trade flourished, they had to make sure that the journey across the Channel was a as pain free as possible. The French, as well as being able to attack English soil at will, would then have control of Flanders and the surrounding coast, so would also control England's main source of foreign exchange.

It was with all these factors fresh in both sides' minds that Philip VI arrested all English merchants in Flanders in 1336, and removed all the privileges of the Flemish towns. A year later the French had captured Guienne from English hands. England, daunted by the prospect of France gaining control of the Channel, and buoyed by the support of the Flemish people, who had recently had restrictions imposed on them by France, decided to take action.



1338 saw England invade Northern France under the rule of Edward III. Although the French army heavily outnumbered the English, England had a strong government, a popular king and battle-hardened forces. Two years later England had regained full control of the English Channel. In 1343 a three-year truce was signed.

The peace did not last. In 1345 Edward invaded again. A year later the English won the Battle Of Crecy. This was in spite of being weakened by The Black Death, and being heavily outnumbered. Their army made excellent use of the longbow, against the disorganised French.

The next thirteen years were characterised by a series of truces and battles. In 1360 the Peace of Bretigny ended the first phase of the war. England got by far the better deal in terms of land.

Nine years passed before the French, now under the rule of Charles V renewed the war. At around this time the French began to use guerrilla warfare tactics under the guidance of Bertrand Du Guesclin. They realised that in normal military conflicts they were likely to come out second best, and so turned to attacking unprotected towns and villages, pilfering what they could, and then burning the habitat. Using this method the French were able to reclaim much of the land they lost in the Peace of Bretigny truce. In 1377, Edward III died, and this coupled with the death of his master military tactician son, the Black Prince, a year earlier, caused England to become weak. Fighting ended in 1386. Ten years later an uneasy truce was signed, with England still having control of the English Channel.

In 1414 Henry V of England, laid claim to the French throne and a year later his forces invaded. The French, weakened by infighting, lost several key battles including the Battle Of Agincourt. Consequently, by 1420, England controlled all of France North of the Loire River. In that same year Charles VI of France signed the Treaty Of Troyes, which recognised Henry V as his heir. It also declared his eldest son (also Charles) to be illegitimate. Charles the younger, later to be Charles VII refused to recognise the treaty though, and continued to fight the English.

In 1422 Henry V and Charles VI both died. The son of Charles (Charles VII) declared himself king, whilst the English claimed that infant king Henry VI was now king Of France. Generally those South of the Loire recognised Charles as King, whilst those North of the river recognised Henry as King.

The turning point of the war came in 1429 when Joan of Arc and Charles VII combined to lift the city of Orleans from a long English siege. Consequently, the French won the Battle of Patay and Charles was crowned King of France. In 1436 Charles retook Paris. For the next thirteen years there was no action from either side. The Hundred Years War ended with France retaking Normandy and Guienne in 1451, leaving England with a tentative hold in Calais.

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