Hundred Years' War

The Hundred Years' War, a conflict between England and France, is generally considered to have lasted 116 years, beginning in 1337 and ending in 1453.

The effective beginning of the war was the decision of King Edward III of England to make a claim on the throne of France following the death of King Charles IV of France in 1328. Edward's claim was through his mother, Isabella of France, Charles's sister. However, the French quoted the Salic law in order to bypass female heirs. Edward refused to do homage to Philip VI of France in 1337 and war began soon afterward.

Edward's campaigns against the French knights were mostly successful. He was far less successful against the castles. He defeated the French at the Battle of Crecy in 1346 and was defeated in turn at the Battle of the Thirty in 1351 during which 30 French Knights from Chateau Josselin called out and defeated 30 English knights. Unfortunately the French, observing chivalric tradition, sold Knollys (Canolles) and Cavely. This was good for the individual knights but damaged the country. Again, at the battle of Poitiers in 1356, John II of France was poorly served by the disloyal French noble, Captal de Buch, who led an outflanking movement which cost the French the battle, and led to the imprisonment of the king in England. At that time the English forces were under the command of the king's eldest son, Edward the Black Prince.

In 1358 the peasant revolt, the Jacquerie took place. It was caused in part by the deprivations suffered by the country people during the war and their implacable hatred of the local nobility. Led by Guillaume Kale (Carle or Cale), they joined forces with other villages, and beginning in the area of Beauvais, north of Paris, committed atrocities against the nobles and destroyed many chateaux in the area. All the rebellious groups were defeated later that summer and savage reprisals followed.

Fortunately for the French, the next king Charles V, nullified English gains. The Treaty of Brétigny in 1360 served to consolidate English holdings in the south-west of France.

Just before New Years day 1370, the English Seneschel of Poitou, John Chandos, was defeated at the bridge at Chateau Lussac. The loss of this commander was a significant blow to the English. Captal de Buch was also captured and locked up by King Charles who, like the English, was not bound by outdated chivalry. The Black Prince was heavily involved in Spain. During the reign of his son, the boy-king Richard II of England, there was something of a lull, and it was not until Richard had been deposed by Bolingbroke (Henry IV of England), that his son Henry V of England seriously revived the English claim to the French throne.

Henry V's almost accidental victory at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 resulted in his being accepted as the heir of King Charles VI of France, whose daughter, Catherine of Valois, he married. A civil war in France between the Burgundians and the Armagnacs was exploited by Henry V, who allied with the Burgundians.

On January 19, 1419 Rouen surrendered to Henry V of England which made Normandy a part of England.

After Henry's early death in 1422, almost simultaneously with that of his father-in-law, his baby son was crowned King Henry VI of England and also King of France, but the French (Armagnacs) remained loyal to Charles VI's son, dauphin Charles. War continued half-heartedly until the raising of the siege of Orleans in 1429, which brought Joan of Arc to the fore and led to dauphin Charles being crowned King Charles VII of France.

In 1435, the Burgundians under Philip the Good switched sides, returning Paris to the King of France. In 1450, the counts of Clermont and Richmont caught the English Army at Formigny and destroyed it using cannons to break up the archers. By 1453 Charles VII had finally created an army as opposed to a group of knights and at the final battle of the hundred years war at Castillone east of Bordeaux, the Bureau brothers used cannon to good effect against the Earl of Talbot who was killed.

Following Henry VI's episode of insanity in 1453, the Wars of the Roses broke out, and the English were no longer in any position to pursue their claim to the French throne and lost all their land on the continent (except Calais). Ill feeling between the two nations continued well into the 16th century. England did not formally renounce rights to the French throne until 1800.

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