Hundred Years War

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Related to Hundred Years War: War of the Roses, Joan of Arc

Hundred Years War,

1337–1453, conflict between England and France.


Its basic cause was a dynastic quarrel that originated when the conquest of England by William of Normandy created a state lying on both sides of the English Channel. In the 14th cent. the English kings held the duchy of GuienneGuienne,
Fr. Guyenne , region of SW France. The name referred to different territories at different times. Guienne as it existed from the time of Henry IV (late 16th–early 17th cent.
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 in France; they resented paying homage to the French kings, and they feared the increasing control exerted by the French crown over its great feudal vassals. The immediate causes of the Hundred Years War were the dissatisfaction of Edward IIIEdward III,
1312–77, king of England (1327–77), son of Edward II and Isabella. Early Life

He was made earl of Chester in 1320 and duke of Aquitaine in 1325 and accompanied his mother to France in 1325.
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 of England with the nonfulfillment by Philip VIPhilip VI,
1293–1350, king of France (1328–50), son of Charles of Valois and grandson of King Philip III. He succeeded his cousin Charles IV, invoking the Salic law to set aside both Charles's daughter and King Edward III of England, the son of Charles's sister.
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 of France of his pledges to restore a part of Guienne taken by Charles IV; the English attempts to control Flanders, an important market for English wool and a source of cloth; and Philip's support of Scotland against England.

The War

The war may be dated from 1337, when Edward III of England assumed the title of king of France, a title held by Philip VI. Edward first invaded France from the Low Countries (1339–40), winning small success on land but defeating (1340) a French fleet at the battle of SluisSluis
, municipality, Zeeland prov., SW Netherlands, on the Scheldt estuary, near the Belgian border. Sluis was founded in the 13th cent. and later accorded trading privileges to the Hanseatic League.
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. In 1346 he won the battle of CrécyCrécy
, officially Crécy-en-Ponthieu
, village, Somme dept., N France. A nearby forest is popular for camping. At Crécy, on Aug. 26, 1346, Edward III of England defeated Philip VI of France in the Hundred Years War.
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 and besieged Calais, which surrendered in 1347. In 1356 the English won the battle of Poitiers, capturing King John IIJohn II
(John the Good), 1319–64, king of France (1350–64), son and successor of King Philip VI. An inept ruler, he began his reign by executing the constable of France (whose office he gave to his favorite, Charles de La Cerda) and by appointing dishonest and
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 of France. After prolonged negotiations, the Treaty of BrétignyBrétigny, Treaty of
, 1360, concluded by England and France at Brétigny, a village near Chartres, France. It marked a low point in French fortunes in the Hundred Years War.
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 was signed (1360); England received Calais and practically all of Aquitaine, as well as a large ransom for the captive king.

The Gascon nobles, oppressively taxed by Edward the Black PrinceEdward the Black Prince,
1330–76, eldest son of Edward III of England. He was created duke of Cornwall in 1337, the first duke to be created in England, and prince of Wales in 1343.
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, appealed (1369) to King Charles VCharles V
(Charles the Wise), 1338–80, king of France (1364–80). Son of King John II, Charles became the first French heir apparent to bear the title of dauphin after the addition of the region of Dauphiné to the royal domain in 1349.
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. The war was renewed, and by 1373, Du GuesclinDu Guesclin, Bertrand
, c.1320–80, constable of France (1370–80), greatest French soldier of his time. A Breton, he initially served Charles of Blois in the War of the Breton Succession.
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 had won back most of the lost French territory. In 1415, Henry VHenry V,
1387–1422, king of England (1413–22), son and successor of Henry IV. Early Life

Henry was probably brought up under the care of his uncle, Henry Beaufort.
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 of England renewed the English claims, took Harfleur, and defeated France's best knights at AgincourtAgincourt
, modern Fr. Azincourt, village, Pas-de-Calais dept., N France. There, during the Hundred Years War, Henry V of England with some 6,000 men defeated a French army six times that size on Oct. 25, 1415.
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. By 1419 he had subdued Normandy, with the connivance of John the FearlessJohn the Fearless,
1371–1419, duke of Burgundy (1404–19); son of Philip the Bold. He fought against the Turks at Nikopol in 1396 and was a prisoner for a year until he was ransomed.
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, duke of Burgundy. Philip the GoodPhilip the Good,
1396–1467, duke of Burgundy (1419–67); son of Duke John the Fearless. After his father was murdered (1419) at a meeting with the dauphin (later King Charles VII of France), Philip formed an alliance with King Henry V of England.
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, successor of John the Fearless, mediated between Henry V and Charles VICharles VI
(Charles the Mad or Charles the Well Beloved), 1368–1422, king of France (1380–1422), son and successor of King Charles V. During his minority he was under the tutelage of his uncles (particularly Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy), whose policies drained
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 of France (see Troyes, Treaty ofTroyes, Treaty of,
1420, agreement between Henry V of England, Charles VI of France, and Philip the Good of Burgundy. Its purpose, ultimately unsuccessful, was to settle the issues of the Hundred Years War.
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), and Charles recognized Henry as heir to the crown of France.

By 1429 the English and their Burgundian allies were masters of practically all France N of the Loire, but in that year Joan of ArcJoan of Arc,
Fr. Jeanne D'Arc (zhän därk), 1412?–31, French saint and national heroine, called the Maid of Orléans; daughter of a farmer of Domrémy on the border of Champagne and Lorraine.
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 raised the siege of Orléans and saw Charles VIICharles VII
(Charles the Well Served), 1403–61, king of France (1422–61), son and successor of Charles VI. His reign saw the end of the Hundred Years War. Although excluded from the throne by the Treaty of Troyes, Charles took the royal title after his father's death
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 crowned king of France at Reims. Her capture by the Burgundians and her judicial murder after extradition to the British did not stop the renewal of French successes. In 1435, Charles obtained the alliance of Burgundy (see Arras, Treaty ofArras, Treaty of.
1 Treaty of 1435, between King Charles VII of France and Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy. Through it, France and Burgundy became reconciled. Philip deserted his English allies and recognized Charles as king of France.
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). By 1450 the French reconquered Normandy, and by 1451 all Guienne but Bordeaux was taken. After the fall (1453) of Bordeaux, England retained only Calais, which was not conquered by France until 1558. England, torn by the Wars of the Roses, made no further attempt to conquer France.

Results of the War

The Hundred Years War inflicted untold misery on France. Farmlands were laid waste, the population was decimated by war, famine, and the Black Death (see plagueplague,
any contagious, malignant, epidemic disease, in particular the bubonic plague and the black plague (or Black Death), both forms of the same infection. These acute febrile diseases are caused by Yersinia pestis (Pasteurella pestis
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), and marauders terrorized the countryside. Civil wars (see JacquerieJacquerie
[Fr.,=collection of Jacques, which is, like Jacques Bonhomme, a nickname for the French peasant], 1358, revolt of the French peasantry. The uprising was in part a reaction to widespread poverty during the Hundred Years War.
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; CabochiensCabochiens
, popular faction in Paris in the early 15th cent. Composed largely of small tradespeople and members of the butchers' and skinners' guilds, it was named after one of the leaders, Simon Lecoustellier, called Caboche, a skinner.
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; Armagnacs and BurgundiansArmagnacs and Burgundians,
opposing factions that fought to control France in the early 15th cent. The rivalry for power between Louis d'Orléans, brother of the recurrently insane King Charles VI, and his cousin John the Fearless, duke of Burgundy, led to Louis's murder
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) and local wars (see Breton Succession, War of theBreton Succession, War of the,
1341–65, an important episode of the Hundred Years War. Duke John III of Brittany died in 1341 without heirs. The succession was contested by his half-brother, John de Montfort, who was backed by Edward III of England, and by Charles of
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) increased the destruction and the social disintegration. Yet the successor of Charles VII, Louis XILouis XI,
1423–83, king of France (1461–83), son and successor of Charles VII. Early Life

As dauphin Louis was almost constantly in revolt against his father.
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, benefited from these evils. The virtual destruction of the feudal nobility enabled him to unite France more solidly under the royal authority and to promote and ally with the middle class. From the ruins of the war an entirely new France emerged. For England, the results of the war were equally decisive; it ceased to be a continental power and increasingly sought expansion as a naval power.


The great chronicler of the war was FroissartFroissart, Jean
, c.1337–1410?, French chronicler, poet, and courtier, b. Valenciennes. Although ordained as a priest, he led a worldly life. He became a protégé of Queen Philippa of England, visited the court of David II of Scotland, and accompanied (1366)
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. Shakespeare, taking liberties with history, dramatized the war in Henry V and Henry VI. See also E. Perroy, The Hundred Years War (tr. 1951, repr. 1967); K. A. Fowler, The Age of Plantagenet and Valois (1967); Christopher Allmand, The Hundred Years War (1988); J. Sumption, The Hundred Years War (3 vol., 1990–2000).

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Hundred Years War

reduced much of France to wasteland (1337–1453). [Eur. Hist.: Bishop, 382–395]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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