The Hundred Years' War was a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Plantagenet, rulers of the Kingdom of England, against the French House of Valois, over the right to rule the Kingdom of France. Each side drew many allies into the war. It was one of the most notable conflicts of the Middle Ages, in which five generations of kings from two rival dynasties fought for the throne of the largest kingdom in Western Europe. The war marked both the height of chivalry and its subsequent decline, and the development of strong national identities in both countries.
Tensions between the crowns of France and England can be traced back to the origins of the English royal family itself, which was French (Norman, and later, Angevin) in origin. For this reason, English monarchs had historically held not only the English Crown, but also titles and lands within France, the possession of which made them vassals to the kings of France. The status of the English King's French fiefs was a major source of conflict between the two monarchies throughout the Middle Ages. French monarchs systematically sought to check the growth of English power, stripping away lands as the opportunity arose, particularly whenever England was at war with Scotland, an ally of France. Over the centuries, English holdings in France had varied in size, at some points dwarfing even the French royal domain; by 1337, however, only Gascony was left to the English.
In 1316, a principle was established denying women succession to the French throne (later retroactively attributed to the ancient Salic law). In 1328, Charles IV of France died without sons or brothers. His closest male relative was his nephew Edward III of England, whose mother, Isabella of France, was sister of the deceased King. Isabella claimed the throne of France for her son, but the French rejected it, maintaining that Isabella could not transmit a right she did not possess. Furthermore, political sentiment favoured a Frenchman for the crown rather than a foreign prince. The throne passed instead to Philip, Count of Valois, a patrilineal cousin of Charles IV, who would become Philip VI of France, the first king of the House of Valois. The English had not expected their claim to meet with success, and did not press the matter when it was denied. However, disagreements between Philip and Edward induced the former to confiscate the latter's lands in France, and in turn prompted Edward III to reassert his claim to the French throne.
Several overwhelming English victories in the war—especially at Crécy, Poitiers, and Agincourt—raised the prospects of an ultimate English triumph, and convinced the English to continue pouring money and manpower into the war over many decades. However, the greater resources of the French monarchy prevented the English kings from ever completing the conquest of France. Starting in 1429, decisive French victories at Orléans, Patay, Formigny, and Castillon concluded the war in favour of the House of Valois, with England permanently losing most of its possessions on the continent.
Historians commonly divide the war into three phases separated by truces: the Edwardian War (1337–1360), the Caroline War (1369–1389), and the Lancastrian War (1415–1453). Local conflicts in neighbouring areas, which were contemporarily related to the war, including the War of the Breton Succession (1341–1365), the Castilian Civil War (1366–1369), the War of the Two Peters (1356–1369) in Aragon, and the 1383–85 crisis in Portugal, were availed by the parties to advance their agendas. Later historians adopted the term "Hundred Years' War" as a historiographical periodisation to encompass all of these events, thus constructing the longest military conflict in European history.
The war owes its historical significance to multiple factors. By its end, feudal armies had been largely replaced by professional troops, and aristocratic dominance had yielded to a democratisation of the manpower and weapons of armies. Although primarily a dynastic conflict, the war gave impetus to ideas of French and English nationalism. The wider introduction of weapons and tactics supplanted the feudal armies where heavy cavalry had dominated, and artillery became important. The war precipitated the creation of the first standing armies in Western Europe since the time of the Western Roman Empire, thus helping to change their role in warfare. With respect to the belligerents, in France, civil wars, deadly epidemics, famines, and bandit free-companies of mercenaries reduced the population drastically. In England, political forces over time came to oppose the costly venture. The dissatisfaction of English nobles, resulting from the loss of their continental landholdings, as well as the general shock at losing a war in which investment had been so great, became factors leading to the Wars of the Roses (1455–1487).
|Hundred Years' War|
|Part of the Anglo-French Wars|
Clockwise, from top left: The Battle of La Rochelle,
The Battle of Agincourt,
The Battle of Patay,
Joan of Arc at the Siege of Orléans
House of Valois and its allies:
House of Plantagenet and its allies:Kingdom of England
in union with...
|States who shifted allegiances throughout the conflict have an asterisk ( * ) next to their names. They are shown in the side on which their participation was the most noteworthy.|
|Commanders and leaders|
The root causes of the conflict can be found in the demographic, economic and political crises of 14th century Europe. The outbreak of war was motivated by a gradual rise in tension between the kings of France and England about Gascony, Flanders and Scotland. The dynastic question, which arose due to an interruption of the direct male line of the Capetians, was the official pretext.
The question of female succession to the French throne was raised after the death of Louis X in 1316. Louis X left only a daughter, and his posthumous son John I lived only a few days. Furthermore, the paternity of his daughter was in question, as her mother, Margaret of Burgundy, had been exposed as an adulterer in the Tour de Nesle affair. Philip, Count of Poitiers, brother of Louis X, positioned himself to take the crown, advancing the stance that women should be ineligible to succeed to the French throne. Through his political sagacity he won over his adversaries and succeeded to the French throne as Philip V. By the same law that he procured, his daughters were denied the succession, which passed to his younger brother, Charles IV, in 1322.
King of France
|Louis, Count of Évreux|
King of France
|Charles, Count of Valois|
King of France
King of France
King of France
King of England
King of France
|Philip, Count of Évreux||Joan II|
Queen of Navarre
|Joan of Burgundy|
King of England
King of Navarre
|Philip of Burgundy|
Charles IV died in 1328, leaving a daughter and a pregnant wife. If the unborn child was male, he would become king; if not, Charles left the choice of his successor to the nobles. A girl ended up being born, therefore rendering the main male line of the House of Capet extinct.
By proximity of blood, the nearest male relative of Charles IV was his nephew, Edward III of England. Edward was the son of Isabella, the sister of the dead Charles IV, but the question arose whether she should be able to transmit a right to inherit that she did not herself possess. The French nobility, moreover, balked at the prospect of being ruled by Isabelle and her lover Roger Mortimer, who were widely suspected of having murdered the previous English king, Edward II. The assemblies of the French barons and prelates and the University of Paris decided that males who derive their right to inheritance through their mother should be excluded. Thus the nearest heir through male ancestry was Charles IV's first cousin, Philip, Count of Valois, and it was decided that he should be crowned Philip VI. In 1340 the Avignon papacy confirmed that under Salic law males should not be able to inherit through their mothers.
Eventually, Edward III reluctantly recognized Philip VI and paid him homage for his French fiefs. He made concessions in Guyenne, but reserved the right to reclaim territories arbitrarily confiscated. After that, he expected to be left undisturbed while he made war on Scotland.
Tensions between the French and English monarchies can be traced back to the 1066 Norman conquest of England, in which the English throne was seized by the Duke of Normandy, a vassal of the King of France. As a result, the crown of England was held by a succession of nobles who already owned lands in France, which put them among the most powerful subjects of the French King, as they could now draw upon the economic power of England to enforce their interests in the mainland. To the kings of France, this dangerously threatened their royal authority, and so they would constantly try to undermine English rule in France, while the English monarchs would struggle to protect and expand their lands. This clash of interests was the root cause of much of the conflict between the French and English monarchies throughout the medieval era.
The Anglo-Norman dynasty that had ruled England since the Norman conquest of 1066 was brought to an end when Henry, the son of Geoffrey of Anjou and Empress Matilda and great-grandson of William the Conqueror, became the first of the Angevin kings of England in 1154 as Henry II. The Angevin kings directly ruled over more French territory than the kings of France. However, they still owed homage for these territories to the French king. From the 11th century onward, the Angevins had autonomy within their French domains, effectively neutralising the issue.
King John of England inherited the Angevin domains from his brother Richard I. However, Philip II of France acted decisively to exploit the weaknesses of John, both legally and militarily, and by 1204 had succeeded in taking control of much of the Angevin continental possessions. Following John's reign, the Battle of Bouvines (1214), the Saintonge War (1242), and finally the War of Saint-Sardos (1324), the English king's holdings on the continent, as Duke of Aquitaine (Guyenne), were limited roughly to provinces in Gascony.
The dispute over Guyenne is even more important than the dynastic question in explaining the outbreak of the war. Guyenne posed a significant problem to the kings of France and England: Edward III was a vassal of Philip VI of France because of his French possessions and was required to recognise the suzerainty of the King of France over them. In practical terms, a judgment in Guyenne might be subject to an appeal to the French royal court. The King of France had the power to revoke all legal decisions made by the King of England in Aquitaine, which was unacceptable to the English. Therefore, sovereignty over Guyenne was a latent conflict between the two monarchies for several generations.
During the War of Saint-Sardos, Charles of Valois, father of Philip VI, invaded Aquitaine on behalf of Charles IV and conquered the duchy after a local insurrection, which the French believed had been incited by Edward II of England. Charles IV grudgingly agreed to return this territory in 1325. To recover his duchy, Edward II had to compromise: he sent his son, the future Edward III, to pay homage.
The King of France agreed to restore Guyenne, minus Agen. But the French delayed the return of the lands, which helped Philip VI. On 6 June 1329, Edward III finally paid homage to the King of France. However, at the ceremony, Philip VI had it recorded that the homage was not due to the fiefs detached from the duchy of Guyenne by Charles IV (especially Agen). For Edward, the homage did not imply the renunciation of his claim to the extorted lands.
In the 11th century, Gascony in south-west France had been incorporated into Aquitaine (also known as Guyenne or Guienne) and formed with it the province of Guyenne and Gascony (French: Guyenne-et-Gascogne). The Angevin kings of England became Dukes of Aquitaine after Henry II married the former Queen of France, Eleanor of Aquitaine, in 1152, from which point the lands were held in vassalage to the French Crown. By the 13th century the terms Aquitaine, Guyenne and Gascony were virtually synonymous. At the beginning of Edward III's reign on 1 February 1327, the only part of Aquitaine that remained in his hands was the Duchy of Gascony. The term Gascony came to be used for the territory held by the Angevin (Plantagenet) Kings of England in south-west France, although they still used the title Duke of Aquitaine.
For the first 10 years of Edward III's reign, Gascony had been a major point of friction. The English argued that, as Charles IV had not acted in a proper way towards his tenant, Edward should be able to hold the duchy free of any French suzerainty. This argument was rejected by the French, so in 1329, the 17-year-old Edward III paid homage to Philip VI. Tradition demanded that vassals approach their liege unarmed with heads bare. Edward protested by attending the ceremony wearing his crown and sword. Even after this pledge of homage, the French continued to pressure the English administration.
Gascony was not the only sore point. One of Edward's influential advisers was Robert III of Artois. Robert was an exile from the French court, having fallen out with Philip VI over an inheritance claim. He urged Edward to start a war to reclaim France, and was able to provide extensive intelligence on the French court.
France was an ally of the Kingdom of Scotland as English kings had for some time tried to subjugate the area. In 1295, a treaty was signed between France and Scotland during the reign of Philip the Fair. Charles IV formally renewed the treaty in 1326, promising Scotland that France would support the Scots if England invaded their country. Similarly, France would have Scotland's support if its own kingdom was attacked. Edward could not succeed in his plans for Scotland if the Scots could count on French support.
Philip VI had assembled a large naval fleet off Marseilles as part of an ambitious plan for a crusade to the Holy Land. However, the plan was abandoned and the fleet, including elements of the Scottish navy, moved to the English Channel off Normandy in 1336, threatening England. To deal with this crisis, Edward proposed that the English raise two armies, one to deal with the Scots "at a suitable time", the other to proceed at once to Gascony. At the same time, ambassadors were to be sent to France with a proposed treaty for the French king.
At the end of April 1337, Philip of France was invited to meet the delegation from England but refused. The arrière-ban, literally a call to arms, was proclaimed throughout France starting on 30 April 1337. Then, in May 1337, Philip met with his Great Council in Paris. It was agreed that the Duchy of Aquitaine, effectively Gascony, should be taken back into the king's hands on the grounds that Edward III was in breach of his obligations as vassal and had sheltered the king's 'mortal enemy' Robert d'Artois. Edward responded to the confiscation of Aquitaine by challenging Philip's right to the French throne. When Charles IV died, Edward had made a claim for the succession of the French throne, through the right of his mother Isabella (Charles IV's sister), daughter of Philip IV. Any claim was considered invalidated by Edward's homage to Philip VI in 1329. Edward revived his claim and in 1340 formally assumed the title 'King of France and the French Royal Arms'.
On 26 January 1340, Edward III formally received homage from Guy, half-brother of the Count of Flanders. The civic authorities of Ghent, Ypres and Bruges proclaimed Edward King of France. Edward's purpose was to strengthen his alliances with the Low Countries. His supporters would be able to claim that they were loyal to the "true" King of France and were not rebels against Philip. In February 1340, Edward returned to England to try to raise more funds and also deal with political difficulties.
Relations with Flanders were also tied to the English wool trade, since Flanders' principal cities relied heavily on textile production and England supplied much of the raw material they needed. Edward III had commanded that his chancellor sit on the woolsack in council as a symbol of the pre-eminence of the wool trade. At the time there were about 110,000 sheep in Sussex alone. The great medieval English monasteries produced large surpluses of wool that were sold to mainland Europe. Successive governments were able to make large amounts of money by taxing it. France's sea power led to economic disruptions for England, shrinking the wool trade to Flanders and the wine trade from Gascony.
On 22 June 1340, Edward and his fleet sailed from England and arrived off the Zwin estuary the next day. The French fleet assumed a defensive formation off the port of Sluis. The English fleet deceived the French into believing they were withdrawing. When the wind turned in the late afternoon, the English attacked with the wind and sun behind them. The French fleet was almost completely destroyed in what became known as the Battle of Sluys. England dominated the English Channel for the rest of the war, preventing French invasions. At this point, Edward's funds ran out and the war probably would have ended were it not for the death of the Duke of Brittany precipitating a succession dispute between the duke's half brother John of Montfort and Charles of Blois, nephew of Philip VI.
In 1341, conflict over the succession to the Duchy of Brittany began the War of the Breton Succession, in which Edward backed John of Montfort and Philip backed Charles of Blois. Action for the next few years focused around a back and forth struggle in Brittany. The city of Vannes in Brittany changed hands several times, while further campaigns in Gascony met with mixed success for both sides. The English backed Montfort finally succeeded in taking the duchy but not until 1364.
In July 1346, Edward mounted a major invasion across the channel, landing in Normandy's Cotentin, at St. Vaast. The English army captured the completely unguarded Caen in just one day, surprising the French. Philip mustered a large army to oppose Edward, who chose to march northward toward the Low Countries, pillaging as he went. He reached the river Seine to find most of the crossings destroyed. He moved further and further south, worryingly close to Paris, until he found the crossing at Poissy. This had only been partially destroyed, so the carpenters within his army were able to fix it. He then continued on his way to Flanders until he reached the river Somme. The army crossed at a tidal ford at Blanchetaque, leaving Philip's army stranded. Edward, assisted by this head start, continued on his way to Flanders once more, until, finding himself unable to outmanoeuvre Philip, Edward positioned his forces for battle and Philip's army attacked.
The Battle of Crécy was a complete disaster for the French, largely credited to the longbowmen and the French king, who allowed his army to attack before it was ready. Philip appealed to his Scottish allies to help with a diversionary attack on England. King David II of Scotland responded by invading northern England, but his army was defeated and he was captured at the Battle of Neville's Cross, on 17 October 1346. This greatly reduced the threat from Scotland. In France, Edward proceeded north unopposed and besieged the city of Calais on the English Channel, capturing it in 1347. This became an important strategic asset for the English, allowing them to keep troops safely in northern France. Calais would remain under English control, even after the end of the Hundred Years' War, until the successful French siege in 1558.
In 1348, the Black Death, which had just arrived in Paris, began to ravage Europe. In 1355, after the plague had passed and England was able to recover financially, King Edward's son and namesake, the Prince of Wales, later known as the Black Prince, led a Chevauchée from Gascony into France, during which he pillaged Avignonet and Castelnaudary, sacked Carcassonne, and plundered Narbonne. The next year during another Chevauchée he ravaged Auvergne, Limousin, and Berry but failed to take Bourges. He offered terms of peace to King John II of France (known as John the Good), who had outflanked him near Poitiers, but refused to surrender himself as the price of their acceptance. This led to the Battle of Poitiers (19 September 1356) where his army routed the French. During the battle, the Gascon noble Jean de Grailly, captal de Buch led a mounted unit that was concealed in a forest. The French advance was contained, at which point de Grailly led a flanking movement with his horsemen cutting off the French retreat and succeeding in capturing King John and many of his nobles. With John held hostage, his son the Dauphin (later to become Charles V) assumed the powers of the king as regent.
After the Battle of Poitiers, many French nobles and mercenaries rampaged, and chaos ruled. A contemporary report recounted:
... all went ill with the kingdom and the State was undone. Thieves and robbers rose up everywhere in the land. The Nobles despised and hated all others and took no thought for usefulness and profit of lord and men. They subjected and despoiled the peasants and the men of the villages. In no wise did they defend their country from its enemies; rather did they trample it underfoot, robbing and pillaging the peasants' goods ...
From the Chronicles of Jean de Venette
Edward invaded France, for the third and last time, hoping to capitalise on the discontent and seize the throne. The Dauphin's strategy was that of non-engagement with the English army in the field. However, Edward wanted the crown and chose the cathedral city of Reims for his coronation (Reims was the traditional coronation city). However, the citizens of Reims built and reinforced the city's defences before Edward and his army arrived. Edward besieged the city for five weeks, but the defences held and there was no coronation. Edward moved on to Paris, but retreated after a few skirmishes in the suburbs. Next was the town of Chartres. Disaster struck in a freak hailstorm on the encamped army, causing over 1,000 English deaths – the so-called Black Monday on Easter 1360. This devastated Edward's army and forced him to negotiate when approached by the French. A conference was held at Brétigny that resulted in the Treaty of Brétigny (8 May 1360). The treaty was ratified at Calais in October. In return for increased lands in Aquitaine, Edward renounced Normandy, Touraine, Anjou and Maine and consented to reduce King John's ransom by a million crowns. Edward also abandoned his claim to the crown of France.
The French king, John II, had been held captive in England. The Treaty of Brétigny set his ransom at 3 million crowns and allowed for hostages to be held in lieu of John. The hostages included two of his sons, several princes and nobles, four inhabitants of Paris, and two citizens from each of the nineteen principal towns of France. While these hostages were held, John returned to France to try and raise funds to pay the ransom. In 1362 John's son Louis of Anjou, a hostage in English-held Calais, escaped captivity. So, with his stand-in hostage gone, John felt honour-bound to return to captivity in England.
The French crown had been at odds with Navarre (near southern Gascony) since 1354, and in 1363 the Navarrese used the captivity of John II in London and the political weakness of the Dauphin to try to seize power. Although there was no formal treaty, Edward III supported the Navarrese moves, particularly as there was a prospect that he might gain control over the northern and western provinces as a consequence. With this in mind, Edward deliberately slowed the peace negotiations. In 1364, John II died in London, while still in honourable captivity. Charles V succeeded him as king of France. On 7 May 1364, one month after the dauphin's accession and three days before his coronation as Charles V, the Navarrese suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Cocherel.
In 1366 there was a civil war of succession in Castile (part of modern Spain). The forces of the ruler Peter of Castile were pitched against those of his half-brother Henry of Trastámara. The English crown supported Peter; the French supported Henry. French forces were led by Bertrand du Guesclin, a Breton, who rose from relatively humble beginnings to prominence as one of France's war leaders. Charles V provided a force of 12,000, with du Guesclin at their head, to support Trastámara in his invasion of Castile.
Peter appealed to England and Aquitaine's Black Prince for help, but none was forthcoming, forcing Peter into exile in Aquitaine. The Black Prince had previously agreed to support Peter's claims but concerns over the terms of the treaty of Brétigny led him to assist Peter as a representative of Aquitaine, rather than England. He then led an Anglo-Gascon army into Castile. Peter was restored to power after Trastámara's army was defeated at the Battle of Nájera.
Although the Castilians had agreed to fund the Black Prince, they failed to do so. The Prince was suffering from ill health and returned with his army to Aquitaine. To pay off debts incurred during the Castile campaign, the prince instituted a hearth tax. Arnaud-Amanieu VIII, Lord of Albret had fought on the Black Prince's side during the war. Albret, who already had become discontented by the influx of English administrators into the enlarged Aquitaine, refused to allow the tax to be collected in his fief. He then joined a group of Gascon lords who appealed to Charles V for support in their refusal to pay the tax. Charles V summoned one Gascon lord and the Black Prince to hear the case in his High Court in Paris. The Black Prince answered that he would go to Paris with sixty thousand men behind him. War broke out again and Edward III resumed the title of King of France. Charles V declared that all the English possessions in France were forfeited, and before the end of 1369 all of Aquitaine was in full revolt.
With the Black Prince gone from Castile, Henry de Trastámara led a second invasion that ended with Peter's death at the Battle of Montiel in March 1369. The new Castilian regime provided naval support to French campaigns against Aquitaine and England. In 1372 the Castilian fleet defeated the English fleet in the Battle of La Rochelle.
In 1373, the combined Castilian and French fleets sacked the Isle of Wight. In 1377, they burned Rye and Hastings and sacked Lewes, Folkestone, Portsmouth, Dartmouth, and Plymouth. In 1378, the Castilian galleys raided Cornwall, burning coastal towns and levying tribute. The following year the Castilians conquered the Castle of La Roche Guyon on the Breton coast. In July 1380, Fernando Sánchez de Tovar led a Franco-Castilian fleet from La Rochelle in an attack on Jersey and Guernsey, followed by an August raid into the Thames Estuary. The raiders burned Gravesend, while the Londoners watched the flames from a distance.
In August 1373, John of Gaunt, accompanied by John de Montfort, Duke of Brittany led a force of 9,000 men out from Calais on a major chevauchée. While initially successful as French forces were insufficiently concentrated to oppose them, the English began to meet further resistance as they moved south. French forces began to concentrate around the English force but, under specific orders from King Charles V, the French avoided a set battle. Instead, they fell on forces detached from the main body to raid or forage. The French shadowed the English and in October, the English found themselves being trapped against the River Allier by four separate French forces. With some difficulty, the English crossed at the bridge at Moulins but lost all their baggage and loot. The English carried on south across the Limousin plateau but the weather was turning severe. Men and horses died in great numbers and many soldiers, forced to march on foot, discarded their armour. At the beginning of December, the army finally entered friendly territory in Gascony. By the end of December they were in Bordeaux, starving, ill-equipped and having lost over half of the 30,000 horses with which they had left Calais. Although the march across France had been a remarkable feat, it was a military failure.
With his health continuing to deteriorate, the Black Prince returned to England in January 1371, whereby now his father Edward III was elderly and also in poor health. The prince's illness was debilitating, and he died on 8 June 1376.
Edward III died the following year on 21 June 1377; he was succeeded by the Black Prince's second son Richard II (the first son had died sometime earlier), who was still a child. The treaty at Brétigny left Edward III and England with enlarged holdings in France; however, a small professional French army under the leadership of du Guesclin pushed the English back and, by the time of Charles V's death in 1380, the English only held Calais and a few other coastal cities.
It was usual to appoint a regent in the case of a child monarch, but no regent was appointed for Richard II, who nominally exercised the power of kingship from the date of his accession in 1377. However, between 1377 and 1380, actual power was in the hands of a series of councils. The political community preferred this to a regency led by the king's uncle, John of Gaunt, although Gaunt remained highly influential.
Richard faced many challenges during his reign, including the Peasants' Revolt led by Wat Tyler in 1381 and an Anglo-Scottish war in 1384–1385. His attempts to raise taxes to pay for his Scottish adventure and for the protection of Calais against the French made him increasingly unpopular.
In July 1380, the Earl of Buckingham commanded an expedition to France to aid England's ally, the Duke of Brittany. The French refused battle before the walls of Troyes on 25 August, so Buckingham's forces continued their chevauchée and in November laid siege to Nantes. However, expected support from the Duke of Brittany did not appear and, in the face of heavy losses in both men and horses, was forced to abandon the siege in January 1381. In February 1381, now reconciled to the regime of the new French king Charles VI, Brittany paid 50,000 francs to Buckingham for him to abandon the siege and the campaign.
After the deaths of Charles V and du Guesclin in 1380, France lost its main leadership and overall momentum in the war. Charles VI succeeded his father as king of France at the age of 11, and he was thus put under a regency led by his uncles, who managed to maintain an effective grip on government affairs until about 1388, well after Charles had achieved royal majority.
With France facing widespread destruction, plague, and economic recession, high taxation put a heavy burden on the French peasantry and urban communities. The war effort against England largely depended on royal taxation, but the population was increasingly unwilling to pay for it, as would be demonstrated at the Harelle and Maillotin revolts in 1382. Charles V had abolished many of these taxes on his deathbed, but subsequent attempts to reinstate them stirred up hostility between the French government and populace.
Difficulties in raising taxes and revenue hampered the ability of the French to fight the English. At this point, the war's pace had largely slowed down, and both nations found themselves fighting mainly through proxy wars, such as during the 1383–1385 Portuguese interregnum. The independence party in the Kingdom of Portugal, which was supported by the English, won against the supporters of the King of Castile's claim to the Portuguese throne, who in turn was backed by the French.
The war became increasingly unpopular with the English public largely due to the high taxes needed to sustain it. These taxes were seen as one of the reasons for the Peasants' revolt. Richard's increasing disinterest in the war together with his preferential treatment of a select few close friends and advisors angered an alliance of lords that included one of his uncles. This group, known as Lords Appellant, managed to successfully press charges of treason against five of Richard's advisors and friends in the Merciless Parliament. The Lords Appellant were able to gain control of the council in 1388 and tried, unsuccessfully, to reignite the war in France. Although the will was there, the funds to pay the troops was lacking, so in the autumn of 1388 the Council agreed to resume negotiations with the French crown, beginning on 18 June 1389 with the signing of a three-year truce at Leulinghem.
In 1389, Richard's uncle and supporter, John of Gaunt, returned from Spain and Richard was able to rebuild his power gradually until 1397, when he reasserted his authority and destroyed the principal three among the Lords Appellant. In 1399, after John of Gaunt died, Richard II disinherited Gaunt's son, the exiled Henry of Bolingbroke. Bolingbroke returned to England with his supporters and deposed Richard and had himself crowned Henry IV.
In Scotland, the problems brought in by the English regime change prompted border raids that were countered by an invasion in 1402 and the defeat of a Scottish army at the Battle of Homildon Hill. A dispute over the spoils between Henry and Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland, resulted in a long and bloody struggle between the two for control of northern England, resolved only with the almost complete destruction of the Percy family by 1408.
In Wales, Owain Glyndŵr was declared Prince of Wales on 16 September 1400. He was the leader of the most serious and widespread rebellion against English authority in Wales since the conquest of 1282–1283. In 1405, the French allied with Glyndŵr and the Castilians in Spain and a Franco-Welsh army advanced as far as Worcester, while the Spaniards used galleys to raid and burn all the way from Cornwall to Southampton, before taking refuge in Harfleur for the winter. The rebellion was finally put down only in 1415 and resulted in Welsh semi-independence for a number of years.
In 1392, Charles VI suddenly descended into madness, forcing France into a regency dominated by his uncles and his brother. An open conflict for control over the Regency began between his uncle Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and his brother, Louis of Valois, Duke of Orléans. After Philip's death, his son and heir John the Fearless continued the struggle against Louis, but with the disadvantage of having no close personal relation to the king. Finding himself outmanoeuvred politically, John ordered the assassination of Louis in retaliation. His involvement in the murder was quickly revealed, and the Armagnac family took political power in opposition to John. By 1410, both sides were bidding for the help of English forces in a civil war. In 1418 Paris was taken by the Burgundians, who were unable to stop the massacre of Count of Armagnac and about 2,500 of his followers by a Parisian mob.
Throughout this period, England confronted repeated raids by pirates that heavily damaged trade and the navy. There is some evidence that Henry IV used state-legalised piracy as a form of warfare in the English Channel. He used such privateering campaigns to pressure enemies without risking open war. The French responded in kind and French pirates, under Scottish protection, raided many English coastal towns.
The domestic and dynastic difficulties faced by England and France in this period quieted the war for a decade.
Henry IV of England died in 1413 and was replaced by his eldest son Henry V. The mental illness of Charles VI of France allowed his power to be exercised by royal princes whose rivalries caused deep divisions in France. Henry V was well aware of these divisions and hoped to exploit them. In 1414 while he held court at Leicester, he received ambassadors from Burgundy. Henry accredited envoys to the French king to make clear his territorial claims in France; he also demanded the hand of Charles VI's youngest daughter Catherine of Valois. The French rejected his demands, leading Henry to prepare for war.
In August 1415, Henry V sailed from England with a force of about 10,500 and laid siege to Harfleur. The city resisted for longer than expected, but finally surrendered on 22 September 1415. Because of the unexpected delay, most of the campaign season was gone. Rather than march on Paris directly, Henry elected to make a raiding expedition across France toward English-occupied Calais. In a campaign reminiscent of Crécy, he found himself outmanoeuvred and low on supplies and had to fight a much larger French army at the Battle of Agincourt, north of the Somme. Despite the problems and having a smaller force, his victory was near-total; the French defeat was catastrophic, costing the lives of many of the Armagnac leaders. About 40% of the French nobility was killed. Henry was apparently concerned that the large number of prisoners taken were a security risk (there were more French prisoners than there were soldiers in the entire English army) and he ordered their deaths.
Henry retook much of Normandy, including Caen in 1417, and Rouen on 19 January 1419, turning Normandy English for the first time in two centuries. A formal alliance was made with the Duchy of Burgundy, which had taken Paris after the assassination of Duke John the Fearless in 1419. In 1420, Henry met with King Charles VI. They signed the Treaty of Troyes, by which Henry finally married Charles' daughter Catherine of Valois and Henry's heirs would inherit the throne of France. The Dauphin, Charles VII, was declared illegitimate. Henry formally entered Paris later that year and the agreement was ratified by the Estates-General.
On 22 March 1421 Henry V's progress in his French campaign experienced an unexpected reverse. Henry had left his brother and presumptive heir Thomas, Duke of Clarence in charge while he returned to England. Clarence engaged a Franco-Scottish force of 5000 men, led by Gilbert Motier de La Fayette and John Stewart, Earl of Buchan at the Battle of Baugé. Clarence, against the advice of his lieutenants, before his army had been fully assembled, attacked with a force of no more than 1500 men-at-arms. He then, during the course of the battle, led a charge of a few hundred men into the main body of the Franco-Scottish army, who quickly enveloped the English. In the ensuing melée, the Scot, John Carmichael of Douglasdale, broke his lance unhorsing the Duke of Clarence. Once on the ground, the duke was slain by Alexander Buchanan. The body of the Duke of Clarence was recovered from the field by Thomas Montacute, 4th Earl of Salisbury, who conducted the English retreat.
Henry V returned to France and went to Paris, then visiting Chartres and Gâtinais before returning to Paris. From there, he decided to attack the Dauphin-held town of Meaux. It turned out to be more difficult to overcome than first thought. The siege began about 6 October 1421, and the town held for seven months before finally falling on 11 May 1422.
At the end of May, Henry was joined by his queen and together with the French court, they went to rest at Senlis. While there, it became apparent that he was ill (possibly dysentery), and when he set out to the Upper Loire, he diverted to the royal castle at Vincennes, near Paris, where he died on 31 August 1422. The elderly and insane Charles VI of France died two months later on 21 October 1422. Henry left an only child, his nine-month-old son, Henry, later to become Henry VI.
On his deathbed, Henry V had given the Duke of Bedford responsibility for English France (as Henry VI was only an infant). The war in France continued under Bedford's generalship and several battles were won. The English won an emphatic victory at the Battle of Verneuil (17 August 1424). At the Battle of Baugé, Clarence had rushed into battle without the support of his archers. At Verneuil, the archers fought to devastating effect against the Franco-Scottish army. The effect of the battle was to virtually destroy the Dauphin's field army and to eliminate the Scots as a significant military force for the rest of the war.
The appearance of Joan of Arc at the siege of Orléans sparked a revival of French spirit, and the tide began to turn against the English. The English laid siege to Orléans in 1428, but their force was insufficient to fully invest the city. In 1429 Joan convinced the Dauphin to send her to the siege, saying she had received visions from God telling her to drive out the English. She raised the morale of the troops, and they attacked the English redoubts, forcing the English to lift the siege. Inspired by Joan, the French took several English strongholds on the Loire.
The English retreated from the Loire Valley, pursued by a French army. Near the village of Patay, French cavalry broke through a unit of English longbowmen that had been sent to block the road, then swept through the retreating English army. The English lost 2,200 men, and the commander, John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, was taken prisoner. This victory opened the way for the Dauphin to march to Reims for his coronation as Charles VII, on 16 July 1429.
Joan of Arc was captured by the Burgundians at the siege of Compiègne on 23 May 1430. The Burgundians transferred her to the English, who organised a trial headed by Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais and member of the English Council at Rouen. Joan was convicted and burned at the stake on 30 May 1431. (She was rehabilitated 25 years later by Pope Callixtus III.)
After the death of Joan of Arc, the fortunes of war turned dramatically against the English. Most of Henry's royal advisers were against making peace. Among the factions, the Duke of Bedford wanted to defend Normandy, the Duke of Gloucester was committed to just Calais, whereas Cardinal Beaufort was inclined to peace. Negotiations stalled. It seems that at the congress of Arras, in the summer of 1435, where the duke of Beaufort was mediator, the English were unrealistic in their demands. A few days after the congress ended in September, Philip III, duke of Burgundy, deserted to Charles VII, signing the Treaty of Arras that returned Paris to the King of France. This was a major blow to English sovereignty in France. The Duke of Bedford died on 14 September 1435 and was later replaced by Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York.
The allegiance of Burgundy remained fickle, but the English focus on expanding their domains in the Low Countries left them little energy to intervene in the rest of France. The long truces that marked the war gave Charles time to centralise the French state and reorganise his army and government, replacing his feudal levies with a more modern professional army that could put its superior numbers to good use. A castle that once could only be captured after a prolonged siege would now fall after a few days from cannon bombardment. The French artillery developed a reputation as the best in the world.
By 1449, the French had retaken Rouen. In 1450 the Count of Clermont and Arthur de Richemont, Earl of Richmond, of the Montfort family (the future Arthur III, Duke of Brittany), caught an English army attempting to relieve Caen and defeated it at the Battle of Formigny. Richemont's force attacked the English army from the flank and rear just as they were on the verge of beating Clermont's army.
After Charles VII's successful Normandy campaign in 1450, he concentrated his efforts on Gascony, the last province held by the English. Bordeaux, Gascony's capital, was besieged and surrendered to the French on 30 June 1451. Largely due to the English sympathies of the Gascon people, this was reversed when John Talbot and his army retook the city on 23 October 1452. However, the English were decisively defeated at the Battle of Castillon on 17 July 1453. Talbot had been persuaded to engage the French army at Castillon near Bordeaux. During the battle the French appeared to retreat towards their camp. The French camp at Castillon had been laid out by Charles VII's ordnance officer Jean Bureau and this was instrumental in the French success as when the French cannon opened fire, from their positions in the camp, the English took severe casualties losing both Talbot and his son.
Although the Battle of Castillon is considered the last battle of the Hundred Years' War, England and France remained formally at war for another 20 years, but the English were in no position to carry on the war as they faced unrest at home. Following defeat in the Hundred Years' War, English landowners complained vociferously about the financial losses resulting from the loss of their continental holdings; this is often considered a major cause of the Wars of the Roses, that started in 1455.
The Hundred Years' War almost resumed in 1474, when the duke Charles of Burgundy, counting on English support, took up arms against Louis XI. Louis managed to isolate the Burgundians by buying Edward IV of England off with a large cash sum and an annual pension, in the Treaty of Picquigny (1475). The treaty formally ended the Hundred Years' War with Edward renouncing his claim to the throne of France. However, future Kings of England (and later of Great Britain) continued to claim the title until 1803, when they were dropped in deference to the exiled Count of Provence, titular King Louis XVIII, who was living in England after the French Revolution.
The French victory marked the end of a long period of instability that had started with the Norman Conquest (1066), when William the Conqueror added "King of England" to his titles, becoming both the vassal to (as Duke of Normandy) and the equal of (as king of England) the king of France.
When the war ended, England was bereft of its Continental possessions, leaving it with only Calais on the continent. The war destroyed the English dream of a joint monarchy and led to the rejection in England of all things French, but the French language in England, which had served as the language of the ruling classes and commerce there from the time of the Norman conquest, left many vestiges in English vocabulary. English became the official language in 1362 and French was no longer used for teaching from 1385.
National feeling that emerged from the war unified both France and England further. Despite the devastation on its soil, the Hundred Years' War accelerated the process of transforming France from a feudal monarchy to a centralised state. In England the political and financial troubles which emerged from the defeat were a major cause of the War of the Roses (1455–1487).
Lowe (1997) argued that opposition to the war helped to shape England's early modern political culture. Although anti-war and pro-peace spokesmen generally failed to influence outcomes at the time, they had a long-term impact. England showed decreasing enthusiasm for conflict deemed not in the national interest, yielding only losses in return for high economic burdens. In comparing this English cost-benefit analysis with French attitudes, given that both countries suffered from weak leaders and undisciplined soldiers, Lowe noted that the French understood that warfare was necessary to expel the foreigners occupying their homeland. Furthermore, French kings found alternative ways to finance the war – sales taxes, debasing the coinage – and were less dependent than the English on tax levies passed by national legislatures. English anti-war critics thus had more to work with than the French.
Bubonic plague and warfare reduced population numbers throughout Europe during this period. France lost half its population during the Hundred Years' War. Normandy lost three-quarters of its population, and Paris two-thirds. The population of England was reduced by 20 to 33 percent due to plague in the same period.
In 1445 the first regular standing army in Western Europe since Roman times was organised in France partly as a solution to marauding free companies. The mercenary companies were given a choice of either joining the Royal army as compagnies d'ordonnance on a permanent basis, or being hunted down and destroyed if they refused. France gained a total standing army of around 6,000 men, which was sent out to gradually eliminate the remaining mercenaries who insisted on operating on their own. The new standing army had a more disciplined and professional approach to warfare than its predecessors.
The Hundred Years' War was a time of rapid military evolution. Weapons, tactics, army structure and the social meaning of war all changed, partly in response to the war's costs, partly through advancement in technology and partly through lessons that warfare taught. The feudal system was slowly disintegrating throughout the hundred years war.
By the war's end, although the heavy cavalry was still considered the most powerful unit in an army, the heavily armoured horse had to deal with several tactics developed to deny or mitigate its effective use on a battlefield. The English began using lightly armoured mounted troops, known as hobelars. Hobelars tactics had been developed against the Scots, in the Anglo-Scottish wars of the 14th century. Hobelars rode smaller unarmoured horses, enabling them to move through difficult or boggy terrain where heavier cavalry would struggle. Rather than fight while seated on the horse, they would dismount to engage the enemy.
|King Philip VI||1293–1350, reigned 1328–1350||Charles of Valois' son|
|King John II||1319–1364, reigned 1350–1364||Philip VI's son|
|King Charles V||1338–1380, reigned 1364–1380||John II's son|
|Bertrand du Guesclin||1320–1380||Commander|
|Louis I, Duke of Anjou||1339–1384, regent 1380–1382||John II's son|
|King Charles VI||1368–1422, reigned 1380–1422||Charles V's son|
|King Charles VII||1403–1461, reigned 1422–1461||Charles VI's son|
|Joan of Arc||1412–1431||Religious visionary|
|Jean Poton de Xaintrailles||1390–1461||Commander|
|Jean II, Duke of Alençon||1409–1476||Commander|
|Jean de Dunois||1402–1468||Commander|
|Jean Bureau||1390–1463||Master Gunner|
|Gilles de Rais||1405–1440||Commander|
|Isabella of France||1295–1358||Queen consort of England, wife of Edward II, mother of Edward III, regent of England, sister of Charles IV and daughter of Philip IV of France|
|King Edward III||1312–1377, reigned 1327–1377||Philip IV's grandson|
|Henry of Grosmont, Duke of Lancaster||1310–1361||Commander|
|Edward, the Black Prince||1330–1376||Edward III's son|
|John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster||1340–1399||Edward III's son|
|King Richard II||1367–1400, reigned 1377–1399||Son of the Black Prince, Edward III's grandson|
|King Henry IV||1367–1413, reigned 1399–1413||John of Gaunt's son, Edward III's grandson|
|King Henry V||1387–1422, reigned 1413–1422||Henry IV's son|
|Catherine of Valois||1401–1437||Queen consort of England, daughter of Charles VI of France, mother of Henry VI of England and by her second marriage grandmother of Henry VII|
|John of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford||1389–1435, regent 1422–1435||Henry IV's son|
|Sir John Fastolf||1380–1459||Commander|
|John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury||1387–1453||Commander|
|King Henry VI||1421–1471, reigned 1422–1461 (also 1422–1453 as king Henry II of France)||Henry V's son, grandson of Charles VI of France|
|Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York||1411–1460||Commander|
|Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy||1342–1404, duke 1363–1404||Son of John II of France|
|John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy||1371–1419, duke 1404–1419||Son of Philip the Bold|
|Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy||1396–1467, duke 1419–1467||Son of John the Fearless|
Arthur III (Breton: Arzhur), more commonly known as Arthur de Richemont (24 August 1393 – 26 December 1458), was briefly Duke of Brittany from 1457 until his death. He is noted primarily, however, for his role as a leading military commander during the Hundred Years' War. Although Richemont briefly sided with the English once, he otherwise remained firmly committed to the House of Valois. He fought alongside Joan of Arc, and was appointed Constable of France. His military and administrative reforms in the French state were an important factor in assuring the final defeat of the English in the Hundred Years' War.The name Richemont reflects the fact that he inherited the English title of Earl of Richmond, which was held by previous dukes of Brittany, but his tenure was never recognized by the English crown. At the very end of his life he became Duke of Brittany and Count of Montfort after inheriting those titles upon the death of his nephew Peter II. Richemont had no legitimate issue and was succeeded in the duchy by his other nephew, Francis II.Battle of Castillon
The Battle of Castillon was a battle fought on 17 July 1453 in Gascony near the town of Castillon-sur-Dordogne (later Castillon-la-Bataille). A decisive French victory, it is considered to mark the end of the Hundred Years' War. As a result of the battle, the English lost all landholdings in France, except Calais.Battle of Crécy
The Battle of Crécy (26 August 1346), also spelled Cressy, was an English victory during the Edwardian phase part of the Chevauchée of Edward III of 1346 during the Hundred Years' War. It was the first of three famous English successes during the conflict, followed by Poitiers in 1356 and Agincourt in 1415.
The battle was fought on 26 August 1346 near Crécy, in northern France. An army of English, Welsh, and allied mercenary troops led by Edward III of England, engaged and defeated a much larger army of French, Genoese and Majorcan troops led by Philip VI of France. Emboldened by the lessons of tactical flexibility and utilisation of terrain learned from the earlier Saxons, Vikings, Muslims and the recent battles with the Scots, the English army won an important victory.The battle heralded the rise of the longbow as the dominant weapon on the Western European battlefield, and helped to continue the rise of the infantryman in medieval warfare. Crécy also saw the use of the ribauldequin, an early cannon, by the English army. The heavy casualties taken by the French knightly class at the hands of peasants wielding ranged weapons was indicative of the decline of chivalry, and the emergence of a more practical, pragmatic approach to conducting warfare.The battle crippled the French army's ability to come to the aid of Calais, which fell to the English the following year. Calais would remain under English rule for over two centuries, falling in 1558.Battle of Neville's Cross
The Battle of Neville's Cross took place during the Second War of Scottish Independence on 17 October 1346, half a mile (800 m) to the west of Durham, England, within sight of Durham Cathedral. An invading Scottish army of 12,000 led by King David II was defeated with heavy loss by an English army of approximately 6,000–7,000 men led by Lord Ralph Neville. The battle was named after an Anglo-Saxon stone cross on the hill where the Scots made their stand; after the victory, Neville paid to have a new cross erected to commemorate the day.
The battle was the result of the invasion of France by England during the Hundred Years' War. King Philip VI of France (r. 1293–1350) called on the Scots to fulfil their obligation under the terms of the Auld Alliance and invade England. David II obliged and after ravaging much of northern England was taken by surprise by the English defenders. The ensuing battle ended with the rout of the Scots, the capture of their king and the death or capture of most of their leadership. Strategically this freed significant English resources for the war against France, and the English border counties were able to guard against the remaining Scottish threat from their own resources. The eventual ransoming of the Scottish king resulted in a truce which brought peace to the border for forty years.Battle of Patay
The Battle of Patay (18 June 1429) was the culminating engagement of the Loire Campaign of the Hundred Years' War between the French and English in north-central France. It was a decisive victory for the French and with heavy losses inflicted on the corps of veteran English longbowmen. This victory was to the French what Agincourt was to the English. Although credited to Joan of Arc, most of the fighting was done by the vanguard of the French army as English units fled, and the main portions of the French army (including Joan herself) were unable to catch up to the vanguard as it continued to pursue the English for several miles.Battle of Poitiers
The Battle of Poitiers was a major English victory in the Edwardian phase of the Hundred Years' War. It was fought on 19 September 1356 in Nouaillé, near the city of Poitiers in Aquitaine, western France. Edward, the Black Prince, led an army of English, Welsh, Breton and Gascon troops, many of them veterans of the Battle of Crécy. They were attacked by a larger French force led by King John II of France, which included allied Scottish forces. The French were heavily defeated; an English counter-attack captured King John II along with his youngest son and much of the French nobility.The effect of the defeat on France was catastrophic, leaving Dauphin Charles to rule the country. Charles faced populist revolts across the kingdom in the wake of the battle, which had destroyed the prestige of the French upper-class. The Edwardian phase of the war ended four years later in 1360, on favourable terms for England.
Poitiers was the second major English victory of the Hundred Years' War. Poitiers was fought ten years after the Battle of Crécy (the first major victory), and about half a century before the third, the Battle of Agincourt (1415). The town and battle were often referred to as Poictiers in contemporaneous recordings, a name commemorated in several warships of the Royal Navy.Bertrand du Guesclin
Bertrand du Guesclin (c. 1320 – 13 July 1380), nicknamed "The Eagle of Brittany" or "The Black Dog of Brocéliande", was a Breton knight and an important military commander in the French side during the Hundred Years' War. From 1370 to his death, he was Constable of France for King Charles V. Well known for his Fabian strategy, he took part in six pitched battles and won the four in which he held command.Charles VII of France
Charles VII (22 February 1403 – 22 July 1461), called the Victorious (French: le Victorieux) or the Well-Served (French: le Bien-Servi), was King of France from 1422 to his death in 1461, the fifth from the House of Valois.
In the midst of the Hundred Years' War, Charles VII inherited the throne of France under desperate circumstances. Forces of the Kingdom of England and the Duchy of Burgundy occupied Guyenne and northern France, including Paris, the most populous city, and Reims, the city in which the French kings were traditionally crowned. In addition, his father Charles VI had disinherited him in 1420 and recognized Henry V of England and his heirs as the legitimate successors to the French crown instead. At the same time, a civil war raged in France between the Armagnacs (supporters of the House of Valois) and the Burgundian party (supporters of the House of Valois-Burgundy allied to the English).
With his court removed to Bourges, south of the Loire River, Charles was disparagingly called the “King of Bourges”, because the area around this city was one of the few remaining regions left to him. However, his political and military position improved dramatically with the emergence of Joan of Arc as a spiritual leader in France. Joan of Arc and other charismatic figures led French troops to lift the siege of Orléans, as well as other strategic cities on the Loire river, and to crush the English at the battle of Patay. With the local English troops dispersed, the people of Reims switched allegiance and opened their gates, which enabled the coronation of Charles VII in 1429 at Reims Cathedral. This long-awaited event boosted French morale as hostilities with England resumed. Following the battle of Castillon in 1453, the French expelled the English from all their continental possessions except for the Pale of Calais.
The last years of Charles VII were marked by conflicts with his turbulent son, the future Louis XI of France.Charles V of France
Charles V (21 January 1338 – 16 September 1380), called "the Wise" (French: le Sage; Latin: Sapiens), was King of France from 1364 to his death, the third from the House of Valois. His reign marked a high point for France during the Hundred Years' War, with his armies recovering much of the territory held by the English, and successfully reversed the military losses of his predecessors.
In 1349, as a young prince, Charles received from his grandfather King Philip VI the province of Dauphiné to rule. This allowed him to bear the title "Dauphin" until his coronation, which led to the integration of the Dauphiné into the crown lands of France. After 1350, all heirs apparent of France bore the title of Dauphin until their accession.
Charles became regent of France when his father John II was captured by the English at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356. To pay for the defense of the kingdom, Charles raised taxes. As a result, he faced hostility from the nobility, led by Charles the Bad, King of Navarre; the opposition of the French bourgeoisie, which was channeled through the Estates-General led by Étienne Marcel; and with a peasant revolt known as the Jacquerie. Charles overcame all of these rebellions, but in order to liberate his father, he had to conclude the Treaty of Brétigny in 1360, in which he abandoned large portions of south-western France to Edward III of England and agreed to pay a huge ransom.
Charles became king in 1364. With the help of talented advisers, his skillful management of the kingdom allowed him to replenish the royal treasury and to restore the prestige of the House of Valois. He established the first permanent army paid with regular wages, which liberated the French populace from the companies of routiers who regularly plundered the country when not employed. Led by Bertrand du Guesclin, the French Army was able to turn the tide of the Hundred Years' War to Charles' advantage, and by the end of Charles' reign, they had reconquered almost all the territories ceded to the English in 1360. Furthermore, the French Navy, led by Jean de Vienne, managed to attack the English coast for the first time since the beginning of the Hundred Years' War.
Charles V died in 1380. He was succeeded by his son Charles VI, whose disastrous reign allowed the English to regain control of large parts of France.Edward III of England
Edward III (13 November 1312 – 21 June 1377) was King of England and Lord of Ireland from January 1327 until his death; he is noted for his military success and for restoring royal authority after the disastrous and unorthodox reign of his father, Edward II. Edward III transformed the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe. His long reign of 50 years was the second longest in medieval England (after that of his great-grandfather Henry III) and saw vital developments in legislation and government, in particular the evolution of the English parliament, as well as the ravages of the Black Death.
Edward was crowned at age fourteen after his father was deposed by his mother, Isabella of France, and her lover Roger Mortimer. At age seventeen he led a successful coup d'état against Mortimer, the de facto ruler of the country, and began his personal reign. After a successful campaign in Scotland he declared himself rightful heir to the French throne in 1337. This started what became known as the Hundred Years' War. Following some initial setbacks, this first phase of the war went exceptionally well for England; victories at Crécy and Poitiers led to the highly favourable Treaty of Brétigny, in which England made territorial gains, and Edward renounced his claim to the French throne. This phase would become known as the Edwardian War. Edward's later years were marked by international failure and domestic strife, largely as a result of his inactivity and poor health.
Edward III was a temperamental man but capable of unusual clemency. He was in many ways a conventional king whose main interest was warfare. Admired in his own time and for centuries after, Edward was denounced as an irresponsible adventurer by later Whig historians such as William Stubbs. This view has been challenged recently and modern historians credit him with some significant achievements.Henry V of England
Henry V (16 September 1386 – 31 August 1422), also called Henry of Monmouth, was King of England from 1413 until his early death in 1422. He was the second English monarch of the House of Lancaster. Despite his relatively short reign, Henry's outstanding military successes in the Hundred Years' War against France, most notably in his famous victory at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, made England one of the strongest military powers in Europe. Immortalised in the plays of Shakespeare, Henry is known and celebrated as one of the great warrior kings of medieval England.
In his youth, during the reign of his father Henry IV, Henry gained military experience fighting the Welsh during the revolt of Owain Glyndŵr and against the powerful aristocratic Percy family of Northumberland at the Battle of Shrewsbury. Henry acquired an increasing share in England's government due to the king's declining health, but disagreements between father and son led to political conflict between the two. After his father's death in 1413, Henry assumed control of the country and asserted the pending English claim to the French throne.
In 1415, Henry embarked on war with France in the ongoing Hundred Years' War (1337–1453) between the two nations. His military successes culminated in his famous victory at the Battle of Agincourt (1415) and saw him come close to conquering France. Taking advantage of political divisions within France, he conquered large portions of the kingdom and Normandy was occupied by the English for the first time since 1345–1360. After months of negotiation with Charles VI of France, the Treaty of Troyes (1420) recognised Henry V as regent and heir apparent to the French throne and he was subsequently married to Charles's daughter, Catherine of Valois.
Following this arrangement, everything seemed to point to the formation of a union between the kingdoms of France and England, in the person of King Henry. His sudden and unexpected death in France two years later condemned England to the long and difficult minority of his infant son and successor, who reigned as Henry VI in England and Henry II in France.Hundred Years' War (1337–1360)
The Edwardian War was the first phase of the Hundred Years' War between France and England. It was named after King Edward III of England, who claimed the French throne in defiance of King Philip VI of France. The dynastic conflict was caused by disputes over the French feudal sovereignty over Aquitaine and the English claims over the French royal title. The Kingdom of England and its allies dominated this phase of the war.
Edward had inherited the duchy of Aquitaine, and as Duke of Aquitaine he was a vassal to Philip VI of France. Edward initially accepted the succession of Philip, but the relationship between the two kings soured when Philip allied with Edward's enemy, King David II of Scotland. Edward in turn provided refuge to Robert III of Artois, a French fugitive. When Edward refused to obey Philip's demands for the expulsion of Robert from England, Philip confiscated the duchy of Aquitaine. This precipitated war, and soon, in 1340, Edward declared himself king of France. Edward III and his son Edward the Black Prince, led their armies on a largely successful campaign across France with notable victories at Auberoche (1345), Crécy (1346), Calais (1347) and La Roche-Derrien (1347). Hostilities were paused in the mid-1350s for the deprivations of the Black Death. Then war continued, and the English were victorious at the Battle of Poitiers (1356) where the French king, John II, was captured and held for ransom. The Truce of Bordeaux was signed in 1357 and was followed by two treaties in London in 1358 and 1359.
After the treaties of London failed Edward launched the Rheims campaign which, though largely unsuccessful, led to the Treaty of Brétigny which settled certain lands in France on Edward for renouncing his claim to the French throne. This was in part caused by Black Monday (1360), the freak storm that devastated the English army and forced Edward III into peace talks. This peace lasted nine years; but then began a second phase of hostilities known as the Caroline War.Hundred Years' War (1369–89)
The Caroline War was the second phase of the Hundred Years' War between France and England, following the Edwardian War. It was so-named after Charles V of France, who resumed the war nine years after the Treaty of Brétigny (signed 1360). The Kingdom of France dominated this phase of the war.
The Black Prince, eldest son and heir of Edward III of England, spent a huge sum of money in order to restore Peter the Cruel to the throne of Castile. The Castilian King was unable to repay him, however, so the Black Prince raised the taxes in his domains in Aquitaine. The people's complaints were unheeded, so they appealed to the French King Charles V. In May 1369, the Black Prince received summons from the French king demanding his presence in Paris. The prince refused, and Charles responded by declaring war. He immediately set out to reverse the territorial losses imposed at Brétigny and he was largely successful in his lifetime. His successor, Charles VI, made peace with the son of the Black Prince, Richard II, in 1389. This truce was extended many times until the war was resumed in 1415.Hundred Years' War (1415–53)
The Lancastrian War was the third and final phase of the Anglo-French Hundred Years' War. It lasted from 1415, when King Henry V of England invaded Normandy, to 1453, when the English lost Bordeaux. It followed a long period of peace from the end of the Caroline War in 1389. The phase was named after the House of Lancaster, the ruling house of the Kingdom of England, to which Henry V belonged.
The first half of this phase of the war was dominated by the Kingdom of England. Initial English successes, notably at the famous Battle of Agincourt, coupled with divisions among the French ruling class, allowed the English to gain control of large parts of France. In 1420, the Treaty of Troyes was signed, by which the English king married the French princess Catherine and was made regent of the kingdom and heir to the throne of France. A victory on paper was thus achieved by the English, with their claims now having legal standing. Some of the French nobility refused to recognize the agreement, however, and so military subjugation was still necessary to enforce its provisions. King Henry V and, after his death, his brother John, Duke of Bedford, brought the English to the height of their power in France, with an English king crowned in Paris.
The second half of this phase of the war was dominated by the Kingdom of France. With charismatic leaders such as Joan of Arc and La Hire, and with England losing its main allies, the French forces counterattacked. Charles VII of France was crowned in Notre-Dame de Reims in 1429, and from then a slow but steady reconquest of English-held French territories ensued. Ultimately the English would be expelled from France and lose all of their continental territories, except the Pale of Calais (which would be captured in 1558).
The Battle of Castillon (1453) was the final action of the Hundred Years' War, but France and England remained formally at war until the Treaty of Picquigny in 1475. English, and later British monarchs would continue to nominally claim the French throne until 1801, though they would never again seriously pursue it.Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc, in French Jeanne d'Arc (French pronunciation: [ʒan daʁk]) or Jehanne (c. 1412 – 30 May 1431), nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" (French: La Pucelle d'Orléans), is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years' War, and was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint. She was born to Jacques d'Arc and Isabelle Romée, a peasant family, at Domrémy in north-east France. Joan claimed to have received visions of the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War. The uncrowned King Charles VII sent Joan to the siege of Orléans as part of a relief army. She gained prominence after the siege was lifted only nine days later. Several additional swift victories led to Charles VII's coronation at Reims. This long-awaited event boosted French morale and paved the way for the final French victory.
On 23 May 1430, she was captured at Compiègne by the Burgundian faction, a group of French nobles allied with the English. She was later handed over to the English and put on trial by the pro-English bishop Pierre Cauchon on a variety of charges. After Cauchon declared her guilty she was burned at the stake on 30 May 1431, dying at about nineteen years of age.In 1456, an inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, debunked the charges against her, pronounced her innocent, and declared her a martyr. In the 16th century she became a symbol of the Catholic League, and in 1803 she was declared a national symbol of France by the decision of Napoleon Bonaparte. She was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920. Joan of Arc is one of the nine secondary patron saints of France, along with Saint Denis, Saint Martin of Tours, Saint Louis, Saint Michael, Saint Rémi, Saint Petronilla, Saint Radegund and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.
Joan of Arc has remained a popular figure in literature, painting, sculpture, and other cultural works since the time of her death, and many famous writers, playwrights, filmmakers, artists, and composers have created, and continue to create, cultural depictions of her.John II of France
John II (French: Jean II; 26 April 1319 – 8 April 1364), called John the Good (French: Jean le Bon), was King of France from 1350 until his death. He was the second monarch from the House of Valois.
When John II came to power, France was facing several disasters: the Black Death, which killed nearly half of its population; popular revolts known as Jacqueries; free companies (Grandes Compagnies) of routiers who plundered the country; and English aggression that resulted in disastrous military losses, including the Battle of Poitiers of 1356, in which John was captured.
While John was a prisoner in London, his son Charles became regent and faced several rebellions, which he overcame. To liberate his father, he concluded the Treaty of Brétigny (1360), by which France lost many territories and paid an enormous ransom. In an exchange of hostages, which included his second son Louis, Duke of Anjou, John was released from captivity to raise funds for his ransom. Upon his return to France, he created the franc to stabilize the currency and tried to get rid of the free companies by sending them to a crusade, but Pope Innocent VI died shortly before their meeting in Avignon. When John was informed that Louis had escaped from captivity, he voluntarily returned to England, where he died in 1364. He was succeeded by his son Charles V.Kingdom of France
The Kingdom of France (French: Royaume de France) was a medieval and early modern monarchy in Western Europe. It was one of the most powerful states in Europe and a great power since the Late Middle Ages and the Hundred Years' War. It was also an early colonial power, with possessions around the world.
France originated as West Francia (Francia Occidentalis), the western half of the Carolingian Empire, with the Treaty of Verdun (843). A branch of the Carolingian dynasty continued to rule until 987, when Hugh Capet was elected king and founded the Capetian dynasty. The territory remained known as Francia and its ruler as rex Francorum ("king of the Franks") well into the High Middle Ages. The first king calling himself Roi de France ("King of France") was Philip II, in 1190. France continued to be ruled by the Capetians and their cadet lines—the Valois and Bourbon—until the monarchy was overthrown in 1792 during the French Revolution.
France in the Middle Ages was a de-centralised, feudal monarchy. In Brittany and Catalonia (now a part of Spain) the authority of the French king was barely felt. Lorraine and Provence were states of the Holy Roman Empire and not yet a part of France. Initially, West Frankish kings were elected by the secular and ecclesiastic magnates, but the regular coronation of the eldest son of the reigning king during his father's lifetime established the principle of male primogeniture, which became codified in the Salic law. During the Late Middle Ages, the Kings of England laid claim to the French throne, resulting in a series of conflicts known as the Hundred Years' War (1337–1453). Subsequently, France sought to extend its influence into Italy, but was defeated by Spain in the ensuing Italian Wars (1494–1559).
France in the early modern era was increasingly centralised; the French language began to displace other languages from official use, and the monarch expanded his absolute power, albeit in an administrative system (the Ancien Régime) complicated by historic and regional irregularities in taxation, legal, judicial, and ecclesiastic divisions, and local prerogatives. Religiously France became divided between the Catholic majority and a Protestant minority, the Huguenots, which led to a series of civil wars, the Wars of Religion (1562–1598). France laid claim to large stretches of North America, known collectively as New France. Wars with Great Britain led to the loss of much of this territory by 1763. French intervention in the American Revolutionary War helped secure the independence of the new United States of America but was costly and achieved little for France.
The Kingdom of France adopted a written constitution in 1791, but the Kingdom was abolished a year later and replaced with the First French Republic. The monarchy was restored by the other great powers in 1814 and lasted (except for the Hundred Days in 1815) until the French Revolution of 1848.Philip VI of France
Philip VI (French: Philippe; 1293 – 22 August 1350), called the Fortunate (French: le Fortuné) and of Valois, was the first King of France from the House of Valois. He reigned from 1328 until his death.
Philip's reign was dominated by the consequences of a succession dispute. When King Charles IV died without a male heir in 1328, the nearest male relative was his maternal nephew Edward III of England. It was held in France, however, that Edward was ineligible to inherit the French throne through the female line according to the ancient Salic Law. Philip, being Charles IV's cousin in the male line, acceded instead. At first, Edward seemed to accept the Valois succession to the crown, but he pressed his claim to the throne of France after a series of disagreements with Philip. The result was the beginning of the Hundred Years' War in 1337.
After initial successes at sea, Philip's navy was annihilated at the Battle of Sluys in 1340, ensuring that the war would occur on the continent. The English took another decisive advantage at the Battle of Crécy (1346), while the Black Death struck France, further destabilizing the country.
In 1349, Philip VI bought the Dauphiné from its ruined ruler Humbert II and entrusted the government of this province to his grandson Charles. Philip VI died in 1350 and was succeeded by his son John II, the Good.Treaty of Brétigny
The Treaty of Brétigny was a treaty, drafted on 8 May 1360 and ratified on 24 October 1360, between King Edward III of England and King John II of France (the Good). In retrospect it is seen as having marked the end of the first phase of the Hundred Years' War (1337–1453)—as well as the height of English power on the Continent.
It was signed at Brétigny, a village near Chartres, and later ratified as the Treaty of Calais on 24 October 1360.
Hundred Years' War
Edwardian phase (1337–1360)
Hundred Years' War
Caroline phase (1369–89)
Hundred Years' War
Lancastrian phase (1415–53)
Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
Edwardian phase (1337–1360)
Hundred Years' War
Caroline phase (1369–89)
Hundred Years' War
Lancastrian phase (1415–53)
Burgundian Wars (1474–77)
Hundred Years' War