The Hundred Years’ War

May 22, 2012 | In: Medieval Battles

The hundred years’ war went for more than 100 years (1337-1453) between England and France, mainly for the French throne.

It first began as a dynastic war in which Edward the Third of England wanted to take control over the French throne. Soon after, many English forces attacked France in order to regain lost territories. Although successful in the beginning, the Englishmen found themselves in the middle of a conflagration that would last a century.

As I said, in 1337, Philip the Sixth revoked Edward III ownership of Gascony(When Edward got control over Gascony, he refused his rightful claim to the throne) and started to attack the English coast.

In response to that, Edward reclaimed his right to the throne and began assembling an army, which won him a victory by sea in 1340 al Sluys. That was an immense strategic move that assured total control over the channel. For six years, the war remained under a calm state. After that, Edward managed to get to Crecy and crushed the French. And so began a long list of conquers for the English. After Crecy, Edward captured Calais. 10 years later, Poitiers fell under his sword. The fighting stoped because of the treaty of Bretigny 4 years after Poitiers. Through it, England gained lots of territories.

In 1364 Charles the Fifth took over the French throne and after 5 years, the war was renewed. The French regained most of the lost territories and, by 1377, Edward opened peace negotiations, but unfortunately died before clear results were obtained. In 1380, he was followed by Charles. 9 years later, the Treaty of Leulinghem was signed, and peace was reestablished.

As you expected, peace lasted a little while, and you’re right. In 1415 Henry V and his army captured Harfleur. And after more than 50 years, Calais was recaptured by the English. Over the next four years, Henry captured Normandy and other territories in the north side of France. Meeting with the French ruler in 1420, Henry agreed to the Treaty of Troyes by which he agreed to marry the daughter of the French ruler and have his sons as legal heirs of the throne.

Again, the treaty was rebuffed by some nobles, the Armagnacs who supported Charles VII and continued the war. In 1428, Henry VI, who had taken throne on his father’s death six years earlier, ordered his forces to lay siege to Orleans. Even though the English were gaining terrain, they were defeated in 1429 after the arrival of Joan of Arc. Claiming to be chosen by God to lead the French, she led forces to a big series of victories. And so, with the help of a young woman, Charles VII was crowned at Reims in July. Sadly, she was killed a year later, and the whole army was demoralized, advancing very slowly.

Despite all of that, the French captured the city of Rouen in 1449. After just one year, they managed to obtain a victory at Formigny. All English struggles to sustain the war were stopped by the insane Henry the Sixth. Above that, there was an interesting conflict between the Duke of York and Earl of Somerset that shattered England’s hopes for victory. In 1451, Charles VII captured Bordeaux. Henry dispached an army to Bordeaux, but was defeated at Castillon in 1453.

Being defeated in this way, Henry was forced to abandon the war so he could deal with the civil war going on in England. The Hundred Years’ War came with major benefits for France, and little for England. After that, the French grew even more powerfull.



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