Hundred Years' War
|Hundred Years' War|
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
The Hundred Years' War is the modern term for a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Plantagenet, rulers of the Kingdom of England, against the House of Valois, rulers of the Kingdom of France, for control of 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.
After the Norman Conquest, the kings of England were vassals of the kings of France for their possessions in France. The French kings had endeavored, over the centuries, to reduce these possessions, to the effect that only Gascony was left to the English. The confiscation or threat of confiscating this duchy had been part of French policy to check the growth of English power, particularly whenever the English were at war with the Kingdom of Scotland, an ally of France.
Through his mother, Isabella of France, Edward III of England was the grandson of Philip IV of France and nephew of Charles IV of France, the last king of the senior line of the House of Capet. In 1316, a principle was established denying women succession to the French throne. When Charles IV died in 1328, Isabella, unable to claim the French throne for herself, claimed it for her son. The French rejected the claim, maintaining that Isabella could not transmit a right that she did not possess. For about nine years (1328–1337), the English had accepted the Valois succession to the French throne. But the interference of the French king, Philip VI, in Edward III's war against Scotland permitted Edward III to reassert his claim to the French throne. Several overwhelming English victories in the war—especially at Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt—raised the prospects of an ultimate English triumph. However, the greater resources of the French monarchy precluded a complete conquest. Starting in 1429, decisive French victories at Patay, Formigny, and Castillon concluded the war in favour of France, with England permanently losing most of its major possessions on the continent.
Historians commonly divide the war into three phases separated by truces: the Edwardian Era War (1337–1360); the Caroline War (1369–1389); and the Lancastrian War (1415–1453). Contemporary conflicts in neighbouring areas, which were directly related to this conflict, included the War of the Breton Succession (1341–1364), the Castilian Civil War (1366–1369), the War of the Two Peters (1356–1375) in Aragon, and the 1383–85 Crisis in Portugal. Later historians invented the term "Hundred Years' War" as a periodization to encompass all of these events, thus constructing the longest military conflict in 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. The war precipitated the creation of the first standing armies in Western Europe since the time of the Western Roman Empire, composed largely of commoners and 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. English political forces over time came to oppose the costly venture. The dissatisfaction of English nobles, resulting from the loss of their continental landholdings, became a factor leading to the civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses (1455–1487). Shorn of its continental possessions, England was left with the sense of being an isolated nation, which profoundly affected its outlook and development for more than 500 years.
Origin of the conflict
The root causes of the conflict can be found in the demographic, economic and social 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 Guyenne, Flanders and Scotland. The dynastic question, which arose due to an interruption of the direct male line of the Capetians, was the official pretext.
Dynastic turmoil in France: 1314–28
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. Philip, Count of Poitiers, brother of Louis X, asserted that women were 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 of France. 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
King of France
King of Navarre
|Charles of Valois|
King of France
King of Navarre
King of France
King of Navarre
King of France
King of Navarre
King of England
King of France
Queen of Navarre
|Joan III of Burgundy|
King of England
|Charles of Évreux|
|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.
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.
The dispute over Guyenne: a problem of sovereignty
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.
John of England inherited the Angevin domains from 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 most 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) resulted in the complete loss of Normandy and the reduction of England's holdings on the continent to a few 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 and was required to recognize the sovereignty of the King of France over Guyenne. 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.
Beginning of the war: 1337–60
Gascony under the King of England
In the 11th century, Gascony in southwest 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 southwest 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. However, this line of argument could not be maintained by the English, so in 1329 the 17-year-old Edward III paid homage to Philip VI. Tradition demanded that vassals should approach their liege unarmed with heads uncovered; however, Edward demonstrated his reluctance by attending the ceremony by wearing his crown and sword. Despite Edward complying, albeit reluctantly, 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.
The Kings of England had attempted to subjugate the Scots for some time, which made Scotland a natural ally of France. 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 if England invaded then France would support the Scots. Similarly, the French would find Scottish support if their 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.
End of homage
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.
Outbreak, the English Channel and Brittany
Edward, with his fleet, sailed from England on 22 June 1340, and arrived the next day off the Zwyn estuary. The French fleet assumed a defensive formation off the port of Sluis. The English fleet apparently tricked the French into believing they were withdrawing. However, 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 changed hands several times, while further campaigns in Gascony met with mixed success for both sides.
Battle of Crécy and the taking of Calais
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 gathered a large army to oppose Edward, who chose to march northward toward the Low Countries, pillaging as he went, rather than attempting to take and hold territory. 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 English 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 safely keep troops 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.
Battle of Poitiers and the Treaty of Brétigny
In 1348, the Black Death, which had just arrived in Paris, began to ravage Europe. In 1356, after the plague had passed and England was able to recover financially, Edward's son and namesake, the Prince of Wales, later known as the Black Prince, invaded France from Gascony, winning a great victory in the Battle of Poitiers. 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 II of France (known as John the Good) and many of his nobles. With John held hostage, his son the Dauphin (later to become Charles V of France) 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
Reims Campaign and Black Monday
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. 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 reducing King John's ransom by a million crowns. Edward also abandoned his claim to the crown of France.
First peace: 1360–69
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 6 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.
French ascendancy under Charles V: 1369–89
Aquitaine and Castile
In 1366 there was a civil war of succession in Castile (part of modern Spain). The forces of ruler Peter of Castile were pitched against those of his half-brother Henry of Trastámara. The English crown supported Peter and the French, 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 Castille. Peter was restored to power after Trastámara's army was defeated at the Battle of Najera.
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 Castille 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 parlement 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.
With his health continuing to deteriorate, the Black Prince returned to England in January 1371, where by 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, 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.
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 1384–85. His attempts to raise taxes to pay for his Scottish adventure and for the protection of Calais against the French made him increasingly unpopular.
Second peace: 1389–1415
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 Leulinghen.
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 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 1282–83. The rebellion was finally put down only in 1415 and resulted in Welsh semi-independence for a number of years.
In the meantime Charles VI of France was descending into madness and an open conflict for power began between his cousin John the Fearless and his brother, Louis of Orléans. After Louis's assassination, 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 massacred the Count of Armagnac and about 2,500 of his followers.
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.
Henry IV of England died in 1413 and was replaced by his eldest son Henry V. Charles VI of France's mental illness 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.
Resumption of the war under Henry V: 1415–29
Burgundy alliance and the taking of Paris
Battle of Agincourt (1415)
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 outmaneuvered 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.
Treaty of Troyes (1420)
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.
Death of Clarence (1421)
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.
French victory: 1429–53
Joan of Arc and French revival
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.
After the coronation, Charles VII's army fared less well. An attempted French siege of Paris was defeated on 8 September 1429, and Charles VII withdrew to the Loire Valley.
Henry's coronations and the desertion of Burgundy
Henry VI was crowned king of England at Westminster Abbey on 5 November 1429 and king of France at Notre-Dame, in Paris, on 16 December 1431.
Joan of Arc was captured by the Burgundians at the siege of Compiegne 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 replaced by a lesser man.
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.
Fall of Gascony
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.
End of the war
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 of France. Louis managed to isolate the Burgundians by buying Edward IV of England off with a large cash sum and an annual pension, in an agreement signed at 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 of France, who was living in England after the French Revolution.
Charles the Bold, the last duke of Burgundy, was killed at the Battle of Nancy in 1477, leaving a daughter, Mary, who lost the provinces of Artois, Flanders, Picardy and Burgundy to Louis XI's armies.
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 (with the exception of the Pale of Calais), leaving it on an island on the periphery of Europe, which greatly affected the English mind-set. 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 was one 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 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.
Before the Hundred Years' War, heavy cavalry (knights) was considered the most powerful unit in an army, but by the war's end, this belief had shifted. The heavy horse was increasingly negated by the use of the longbow (and, later, another long-distance weapon: firearms). Edward III was famous for dismounting his men-at-arms and having them and his archers stand in closely integrated battle lines; the horses only being used for transport or pursuit. 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.
By the end of the Hundred Years' War, these various factors caused the decline of the expensively outfitted, highly trained heavy cavalry and the eventual end of first the armoured knight as a military force and later of the nobility as a political one.
|King Philip VI||1293–1350, reigned 1328–50||Charles of Valois' son|
|King John II||1319–1364, reigned 1350–64||Philip VI's son|
|King Charles V||1338–1380, reigned 1364–80||John II's son|
|Bertrand du Guesclin||1320–80||Commander|
|Louis I, Duke of Anjou||1339–1384, regent 1380–82||John II's son|
|King Charles VI||1368–1422, reigned 1380–1422||Charles V's son|
|King Charles VII||1403–1461, reigned 1422–61||Charles VI's son|
|Jean II, Duke of Alençon||1409–1476||Commander|
|Jean de Dunois||1402–68||Commander|
|Jean Poton de Xaintrailles||1390–1461||Commander|
|Jean Bureau||1390–1463||Master Gunner|
|Gilles de Rais||1405–40||Commander|
|Joan of Arc||1412–31||Religious visionary|
|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 1327–77||Philip IV's grandson|
|Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster||1310–61||Commander|
|Edward, the Black Prince||1330–76||Edward III's son|
|John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster||1340–99||Edward III's son|
|King Richard II||1367–1400, reigned 1377–99||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 1413–22||Henry IV's son|
|Catherine of Valois||1401–37||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, 1st Duke of Bedford||1389–1435, regent 1422–1435||Henry IV's son|
|Sir John Fastolf||1380–1459||Commander|
|John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury||1384–1453||Commander|
|King Henry VI||1421–1471, reigned 1422–61||Henry V's son|
|Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York||1411–60||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 1404–19||Son of Philip the Bold|
|Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy||1396–1467, duke 1419–67||Son of John the Fearless|
- Timeline of the Hundred Years' War
- French military history
- British military history
- Anglo-French relations
- Medieval demography
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|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Hundred Years' War.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hundred Years' War.|
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- Jean Froissart, "On The Hundred Years War (1337–1453)" from the Internet Medieval Sourcebook
- Online database of Soldiers serving in the Hundred Years War