The 100 Years War:


The 100 Years War actually lasted 116 years from 1337 until 1453, and was fought between England and France; it was a series of plundering raids, sieges and naval battles that was broken up by temporary truces and uneasy peace times; it all started in May 1337 when King Philip VI of France attempted to confiscate the English territories in the duchy of Aquitaine, in South western France.

From the beginning of the war until the battle of Orleans (1428 to 1429), the English won many victories including the decisive battles of Crécy, Poitiers and Agincourt; this was mainly due to employing a new method of warefare with a great success that combined forces of longbowmen with dismounted men-at-arms; however, in 1429 the French eventually gained the upperhand, at the siege of Orleans, when Joan of Arc led a relief force which successfully defeated the English; over the next 25 years the French won many battles and slowly forced the English to retreat; the war ended in July 1453 when the French finally drove the English from all of France save Calais.

A map depicting the Major battles.
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100 Years War Maps

The 100 Years War - A Summary:

Accession of Henri 'Plantagenet' d'Anjou, Maine and Touraine, to the English throne; Henry II began the Plantagenet dynasty in England; by inheritance, from his mother's side and sustained by force of arms; Henry II held ducal claim to Normandy; in 1152, he had become duke of Aquitaine by marriage to the heriess, Eleanor; King Henry II of England, as a duke, held far more French land in direct vassalage than did the French king; his son, Richard 'The Lionheart' managed to protect most of it from seizure by the French king Philippe II Auguste.

King Philippe II Auguste of France defeated English German coalition armies in the 'War of Bouvines', essentially confirming his earlier confiscation of Normandy, Anjou and Maine from the English duke king John I 'Lackland'; this effectively removed any direct claims of English Plantagenet kings to the French domains associated with the French Norman conquest of England in 1066.

King Louis IX, Saint Louis, defeated the English king Henry III and a rebel force of French nobles in the Santonge War of 1242; the result was confiscation by the French crown of large portions of the former 'Aquitaine'; however, Louis IX's main ambition was to devote his energies toward a crusade to the Levant and he desired to assuage the king of England with some return of French ducal land in Guyenne.

Treaty of Paris; Henry III of England acknowledged surrender of Plantagenet claims to lands in France conquered by Philippe Augustus , which included Normandy, Anjou, Maine, Touraine and Poitou; in addition, he accepted to hold the remaining Plantagenet fiefs in southwest France by liege homage to the king of France; however, this region remained a significant source of disputes and confiscation initiatives by later French monarchs; most significant was a 'small war' of Saint-Sardos (1325), which was the result of king Edward II of England refusing to pay homage to Charles IV of France for Guyenne.

Accession of Edward III (1327 to 1377) to the English throne; his mother, Isabelle, was sister to three French kings, none of whom left a direct male heir to the Capetian throne.

Death of the last Capetian king of France, Charles IV; Edward III's claim to succeed him was rejected and Philippe de Valois, a cousin by direct male line, acceded to the French throne as Philippe VI (1328 to 1350); this began the royal Valois dynasty in France; in 1329, Edward III went to Amiems and paid homage to king Philippe IV of France for the duchy of Guyenne; he also paid homage for the county of Ponthieu.

King Philippe VI of France declared the duchy of Guyenne forfeited by Edward III for the latter's harboring of Robert d'Artois, a troublsome criminal in the eyes of the French crown; Edward III sent a letter of defiance to 'Pilip of Valois, who calls himself king of France'; these incidents are usually cited as the Beginning of the Hundred Years' War.

Edward III's ambitions were supported by the newly appointed leader of the Flemish townsmen seeking independence from France; Jacob van Artevelde formed a commerical treaty with Edward III and encouraged Edward to claim the French crown.

Edward III's first personally led a campaign in France, launched from Flanders into Thiérache, which proved ineffective, as well as financially costly; he returned to England to better prepare for a future invasion.

Edward III assumed the title of "king of England and France" and concluded a military alliance with the Flemish; Edward III's fleet defeated the French fleet at Sluys on the 24th June.

The death of the Jean III, duc de Bretagne, led to a war of succession (1341 to 1364) for the duchy between Charles de Blois, supported by the French king and Jean de Montfort, supported by the English king.

1345 to 1347:
English campaigns in Normandy, Brittany and Aquitaine; the battle of Crécy on the 26th August 1346 and capture of Calais on the 4th August 1347.

1348 to 1349:
The 'Black Death', bubonic plague, spread in France and England.

The English defeated a Castilian fleet in battle of Les-Espagnols-sur-Mer, off Winchelsea, in August; the death of Philippe VI, on the 22nd August, and accession of Jean II le Bon (1350 to 64).

1355 to 1357:
The English campaigns in northern and southern France and the battle of Poitiers on the 19th September 1356, in which Jean II of France was made prisoner of the English.

In February, Parisian bourgeoise rebels, led by Etienne Marcel, murdered the Marshals of Champagne and Normandy and threatened the life of the dauphin, Charles, who was forced to flee the city; in May, a peasants' rebellion, known as the jacqerie, began, but was put down near Meaux by Charles "the Bad," King of Navarre.

1359 to 1360:
Hoping to gain from the dauphin's difficulties, Edward III launched his last great campaign in France; he failed to get himself crowned 'king of France' at Reims, was unable to take Paris and agreed to the preliminaries of a peace at Brétigny near Chartes on the 8th May 1360; a modified version of the treaty was ratified at Calais on the 24th October 1360; then there was relative peace in terms of direct combat between the English and French armies until 1369; the French king, Jean II was released from English captivity in December 1360.

The Grand Companies ravaged the French countryside; the routiers defeated a royal army at Brignais on the 6th April; Edward III announced the creation of the sovereign principality of Aquitaine to be ruled by his son, the 'Black Prince', Edward of Woodstock.

King Jean II returned to London in 1364, and died there in the same year, Charles V, the Wise became king of France (1364 to 80); Charles V incited Charles 'the Bad' of Navarre to lead an uprising; Charles of Navarre's forces were defeated in the battle of Chocherel in May 1364, by the French king's army, led by a low-ranking Breton knight, Bertrand du Guesclin; Du Guesclin was later captured by the English at the battle of Auray on the 29th September, in which Charles de Blois was killed.

Montfort's son, became Jean IV, duke of Brittany, but paid homage to the French king, Charles V; Charles deployed du Guesclin to lead a force of routiers to aid Enrique of Trastámara against Pedro 'the Cruel', king of Castile, who was supported by an English force under the Black Prince; Enrique was defeated at the battle of Navarete on the 2nd April 1367 in Castile and du Guesclin was again captured by the English and ransomed by Charles V.

Later, the English withdrew support of Pedro and Enrique defeated Pedro at Montiel on the 14th March 1369; the new king of Castile, Enrique II, rewarded the French for their support by sending the formidable Castilian navy to assist the French in the struggle against England.

1369 to 1373:
Renewed warfare between France and England began in June; Charles V anounced that he was confiscating Aquitaine and launched an invasion which took several towns; the Black Prince, experienced revolts in his domaine and sacked Limoges on the 19th September 1370; the Prince returned to England in 1371, leaving his French dominion to his brother, John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster.

Charles V, who had prepared his treasury for war, financed a new fleet, Clos des Galées at Rouen, and recruited commanders with proven battlefield experience, Oliver de Clisson, Boucicault, Amaury de Craon, the Bègue de Vilaines, the Admiral Jean de Vienne; in particular, Charles made du Guesclin constable on the 2nd October 1370; in that same year the new constable and Oliver de Clisson routed an English force at Pontvallain, near Le Mans.

The end of the 100 Years War:
This latter part of the first period of the Hundred Years' War was the decisive part of the period; by mostly avoiding open field battles, where the English longbow tactical system dominated, the French followed Fabian methods of raids, ambushes, night attacks and harassment; Du Guesclin led most of the main French operations and reconquered several towns in Guyenne in 1372; in June of the same year, a Castilian fleet destroyed the English fleet off La Rochelle; the trend was repeated in Brittany and Normandy, as the French reclaimed, by force or bribery, most all of the territories that had been ceded to Edward III at Brétigny.

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