The 100 Year War

The Hundred Year War was a prolonged but intermittent conflict between England and France between 1337 and 1453. The causes of the war lay in an open dispute between both nations over the territorial limits and extent of and sovereignty in the English domains in France; France’s concern at the strength of English commercial influence in Flanders and French support of Scotland’s struggle for independence; and the claim of English monarchs, through the mother of Edward III-Isabel of France-to the French crown.

War broke out when Philip VI of France confiscated Gascony from Edward III. Edward retaliated by supporting Flemish rebels against the unpopular Count Louis, a French ally, and by invading northern France. At the same time he renewed his claim to the French throne. The English naval success at the Battle of Sluys (1340) was followed by the great victory at Crecy, and Edward went on to take Calais (1347).

The second phase of the war, 1355-1396, began with English raids in northern France, Languedoc and Normandy. Edward, the Black Prince, won a decisive victory at Poitiers (1356) but Edward III failed to follow up this advantage. In 1360 he agreed to the Treaty of Bretigny and an enlarged Gascony in exchange for giving up his claim to the French throne. Intermittent fighting followed, notably in Aquitaine, where France aided rebels against the Black Prince, and at La Rochelle (1372) France decisively defeated the English navy. In 1387, however, the English defeated a Franco-Castilian invasion fleet off Margate. The peace of Paris (1396) arranged Richard’s marriage to the French King’s daughter and confirmed England in the possession of Calais and parts of Aquitaine

Some 20 years of uneasy peace, punctuate by intermittent conflicts, followed until 1415, when Henry V, encouraged by a France weakened by civil war, renewed the English claim to the French crown. The final phase of the war began with Henry’s invasion of Normandy, the fall of Harfleur, and the great English victory at Agincourt, all in 1415. By 1419 the English conquest of Normandy was complete. The treaty of Troyes (1420) reflected England’s strength; it arranged Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Valois and made him heir to the French throne.

Despite Henry’s premature death in 1422 English conquests was continued until Charles VII and Joan of Arc led a French revival and defeated the English forces besieging Orleans 1429. By 1450 the French had driven the English out of Normandy, winning a notable victory at Formigny, and by 1453, after the battle of Castillon, had taken the last English stronghold, Bordeaux. The war was effectively over, England retaining only Calais on the French mainland,

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