Havoc: The Hundred Years War

The Hundred Years War was a conflict between Britain and France, which started in 1337 and lasted until 1475.  The Hundred Years War was profound on many levels, from the compelling power of feudal politics, to the characteristics of medieval warfare.

The roots of the war go back to 1066, when William the Conqueror became King of I, William’s youngest son. In 1337, the current King of England, Edward III, refused to pay the homage to Philip VI of France that he was required to as Duke of Normandy. Philip VI confiscated Edward III’s lands in Aquitaine in retaliation. Riled, Edward III claimed to be the rightful King of France, in reference to his grandfather’s, Charles IV of France, death without a male heir. The war was spurred by the question of succession of France, and it is seen to be divided into three key eras; the Edwardian War, the Caroline War, and the Lancastrian War.

The Edwardian War began in 1337, and was driven by Edward III’s ambition for sovereignty in Aquitaine, and his claim for the French throne. Conflict did however halt due to the Black Death in the mid 1350s. In 1350, Philip VI died, and his son, John II of France, took over as King. In September 1356, during the Battle of Poitiers, Edward III’s son, Edward of Woodstock, was able to take John II of France prisoner, and demanded a ransom from the French. France descended into anarchy and civil war. Eventually, the Treaty of Brétigny set the ransom at 3 million crowns, which the French paid, but John II’s son was left as a replacement captive. The Treaty also gave Edward III more land in France if he renounced his claim to the throne. In July, 1363, John II of France’s son escaped, and due to his belief that this was dishonourable, John II returned to England. He died of an unknown illness in April 1364. The peace that ensued after the Treaty of Brétigny lasted until 1369, the start of the Caroline War.

In May 1369, Charles V of France resumed war. This was because Edward III’s son refused a summons from the French king demanding he come to Paris. Charles V attempted to regain land lost in the treaty of Brétigny, and was largely successful. However, after his death in 1380, his son, Charles VI, was not so successful. He ended up making peace with Edward III’s grandson, Henry IV. This took place in 1389. This second era of peace was extended until 1415, the beginning of the Lancastrian war.

Henry IV’s son, Henry V, invaded Normandy in 1415. This segment of the war was named after house Lancaster, of which Henry V was a member. They were the ruling house of the Kingdom of England at the time. After the Battle of Agincourt, Henry V was able to get an English King crowned in Paris. However, strong French counterattacks won back all the land they had taken. The final battle, the battle of Castillon took place in 1453, when England failed to recover Bordeaux. The conflict ended there, but they technically remained at war until the Treaty of Picquigny in 1475.

Contributed by Joe Klein

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