The Hundred Years War

By Clayton Whitt and Shay Scott

What was it?

The Hundred Years' War was a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453 between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of France and their various allies for control of the French throne.

Background Info

The background of the Hundred Years War went as far back as to the reign of William the Conqueror. When William the Conqueror became king in 1066 after his victory at the Battle of Hastings, he united England with Normandy in France. William ruled both as his own.

Under Henry II, the lands owned by England in France became even larger and the kings who followed Henry found the land they owned in France too large and difficult to control.

In 1328 Charles IV died, leaving only daughters; the nearest male relative was Edward III of England. However, The French nobility felt that the rightful king was to be Charles IV's cousin, Phillip, Count of Valois. This caused a lot of tension between Edward III and Charles and eventually resulted in the Hundred Years War.

The Start of the War

In 1337, Edward III of England assumed the title of King of France from King Philip VI. Edward first invaded France from the Low Countries in 1339–40, winning small success on land but defeating a French fleet at the battle of Sluis in 1340.

Theoretically, the French kings, possessing the financial and military resources of the most populous and powerful state in Western Europe, held the advantage over the smaller, more sparsely populated English kingdom. However, the expeditionary English army, well disciplined and successfully using their longbows to stop cavalry charges, would prove victorious over much larger French forces.

Battle of Crécy

The Battle of Crécy took place on 26 August in 1346 near Crécy in northern France. It was known as one of the most important battles of the Hundred Years War because of the combination of new weapons and tactics used. All of these factors made Edward III's army powerful, even when outnumbered by the French forces. The English were able to claim the victory for this battle thanks to their advanced weaponry and strategies.

The battle was not decisive,however. The English simply did not have enough resoures to conquer all France.

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The Black Death

The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. It wiped out a ⅓ of Europe’s population and played a major role in the Hundred Years War. It gave its victim apple sized buboes, similar to tumors, in the groin, the neck and armpits, which oozed pus and bled when opened. Soldiers and citizens were affected by this illness and it caused a major population crisis for both the English and French.
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Battle of Agincourt

In 1415, The Battle of Agincourt occurred near modern-day Azincourt. The heavy armor-plated French knights attempted to attack English forces. Henry V led his troops into battle and participated in hand-to-hand fighting.Much of the terrain had been turned into a difficult mud by the heavy rain.This was a big victory for the English and the French were disastrously defeated. With 1,500 french nobles killed on the battlefield, the English proved themselves to be the masters of Northern France.

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Peasants' Revolt

Medieval England experienced few revolts but the most serious was the Peasants’ Revolt which took place in June 1381. A violent system of punishments for offenders was usually enough to put off peasants from causing trouble. Most areas in England also had castles in which soldiers were garrisoned, and these were usually enough to guarantee reasonable behaviour among medieval peasants.

An army of peasants from Kent and Essex marched on London. They did something no-one had done before or since - they captured the Tower of London. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the King’s Treasurer were killed. The king, Richard II, was only 14 at the time but despite his youth, he agreed to meet the peasants at a place called Mile End to discuss a solution.

The causes of the Peasants' Revolt of 1381

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc, the daughter of prosperous peasants, was born in 1412. In February of 1429, Joan made her way to Charles’s court , where her sincerity and simplicity persuaded him to allow her to accompany a French army to Orléans. Inspired by Joan’s faith, the French armies found new confidence in themselves and captured Orléans. Joan had brought the war to a decisive turning point but did not live to see its end. She was captured in 1430 and turned over by the English to the Inquisition on charges of witchcraft.