brief outline of the hundred years war
Phillip IV of
had one daughter (Isabella, who married Edward II of
) and three sons who, after his death, reigned in rapid succession from
1314 to 1328,none of which produced a heir. This meant that the only
living descendant was Edward III of
, the French King’s grandson. However, in
woman were not allowed to inherit landed property so the French crown
passed to Phillip de Valois. Edward argued the law might prevent a woman
from succeeding to the throne but it in no way prevented the inheritance
passing through a woman to the male heir.
had existed for many years and worsened when Phillip de Valois,
instructed his Flemish subjects to cease trading with the English.
’s sheep were recognized as the best in
and this trading ban threatened the wool industry the Flemish had built
their economy on. So, when Edward III embarked upon the war in 1338 for
the French throne, he was not just supported by the English nobles but
also strongly supported by
’s sheep farmers and Flemish merchants and artisans who had an
investment in an English victory.
first great battle of the war was fought at sea, the battle of Sluys,
where 200 English ships commanded by Edward III defeated 400 French,
Castillian and Gascon ships removing the threat of French invasion and
opening the way for an English invasion of France.
July 1346, the English landed in
and after a quick victory at Caan, launched a chevauchee (extended raid)
of 8000 men. The French retaliated with an army of 20,000 men and the
two forces met at
up a defensive position, the English, due mainly to their large number
of archers with longbows, slaughtered the attacking French. 4000 French
knights, including 1500 nobles were amongst the slain.
contest of arms continued and in 1356 Prince Edward (the black prince)
led a chevauchee of 6,000 – 8,000 men through western
. King Jean of
(who succeeded to the throne in 1350) moved to intercept him with a
force of around 18,000 men, the result, the battle of
! The battle finished with the total defeat of the French. The French
losses including their King, constable and marshals, one archbishop, 13
counts, 5 viscounts, 21 barons and bannerettes and 2,000 men at arms.
Black Prince made his reputation as a great military commander at
and subsequent battles in
but died early of disease in 1376.
of the English free companies that served in
stayed on and fought as mercenaries throughout Europe and particularly
. These free companies were made up of archers, sergants and men at arms
and often banded together to create small armies.
dragged on with dozens of English victories but they were to discover,
much like the
did 600 years later in
, that they could win the battles but found it difficult to control the
the French, inspired by Joan of Arc and trying new tactics, chiefly
avoiding the English when they were waiting for them and using cannon,
took back most of the English possessions. With civil war looming in
the English nobles were reluctant to commit troops to
and the war petered out in the 1450’s.