Hundred Years' War

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Time scaled map of the war.

The Hundred Years' War was fought between France and England during the late Middle Ages. It lasted 116 years from 1337 to 1453.[1] The war started because Charles IV of France died in 1328 without an immediate male heir (i.e., a son or younger brother). Edward III of England then believed he had the right to become the new king of France through his mother.[2]

The French did not want a foreign king, so Philip VI of France said he ought to be king because by the Salic law women could not rule or transmit the right to rule to their sons. The two countries went to war because of this disagreement.

At the beginning of the war France was the stronger of the two countries. France had about 17 million people while England had only about 4 million people. France had an alliance with Scotland against England, and England tried to ally with parts of the Low Countries. The English won a great victory at sea in the Battle of Sluys in 1340 which prevented France from invading England. After that the war was fought almost totally in France. England won again at the Battle of Crécy in 1346: the English longbow was part of the reason for the victory.

From 1348 to 1356 there was very little fighting because of the Black Death. Then Edward, the Black Prince won the Battle of Poitiers for England. King John II of France was captured during the battle. The English invaded France again but were not able to take any more cities. A truce gave England about one quarter of France.

The new king Charles V of France was more successful, with Bertrand du Guesclin as his best knight. The Black Prince was busy at another war in Spain, and Edward III was too old to lead an army again. So France allied with Castile against England and Portugal. France won back many French towns from the English during this time. A peace followed from 1389-1415.

The most famous part of the war began in 1415. Henry the V of England invaded France and won the Battle of Agincourt with many bowmen. King Charles VI of France was insane and unable to rule, and nearly all his sons died young. The queen of France, Isabeau of Bavaria, married one of her daughters to Henry the V and signed the Treaty of Troyes to make Henry V the next king of France. Both Henry V and Charles VI died at almost the same time. So the English believed Henry VI of England was the new king of France and many French people agreed. Charles VI's last son Charles VII of France said he ought to be the new king, but many people said he did not deserve to be king because somebody else had probably been his father.

The English continued to capture land in France until Joan of Arc led the army to success at the Siege of Orleans and the Battle of Patay in 1429. She regained many cities and brought Charles VII to his coronation, but she did not recover Paris. She was convicted of heresy and burned at the stake. After her death, the French continued to take back territory, although more slowly. France had a diplomatic win in 1435 with the Treaty of Arras. The war ended in 1453.

Naval Warfare in the Hundred Years War

The Hundred Years War witnessed several large naval battles and naval actions. The most important of these encounters were the Battle of Sluys (1340), which was the first major Anglo- French engagement of the war; the Battle of Winchelsea (1350), which was an English attempt to clear the Channel of Castilian raiders; the Battle of La Rochelle (1372), which cost the English both a fleet and an important port; the Battle of Cadzand (1387), which gave the English temporary control of the Channel; and the Battle of the Seine (1416), which broke the French siege of HarfleurR. Other important naval actions included the English seizure of Brest (1342), which gave Edward III a major port in Brittany and secured the sea route to Aquitaine; the French attack on Winchelsea (1360), which destroyed an English town and foreshadowed the damage French raiders would frequently inflict on the English coast in the 1370s; and the Franco- Castilian blockade of Bordeaux (1451), which helped complete the French reconquest of Gascony. The naval battles of the Hundred Years War were hand-to-hand encounters that recreated land combat on the decks of ships. Men fought with the same weapons used on land, although sailors might throw soap or stones to impede enemy boarders, or quicklime to blind enemy combatants. The same projectile weapons employed on land were used to bombard enemy ships, including longbows and crossbows—English Archers made effective use of the former against grappled French vessels at Sluys—as well as lances, spears, and darts; Artillery, however, was rarely mounted on ships before the fifteenth century.

Naval Battles

# Name and Date Location Outcome
1. Battle of Arnemuiden (1338) Arnemuiden, Walcheren Island, France French Victory
2. Battle of Sluys (1340) Slyus, Flanders, France English Victory
3. Battle of Brest (1342) Brest, Brittany, France English Victory
4. Battle of Winchelsea (1350) Sussex, England English Victory
3. Battle of La Rochelle (1372)
6. Battle of Cadzand (1387) Cadzand, Flanders, France English Victory
7. Battle of Margate (1387) English Channel off Margate English Victory

Naval Actions

# Name Location Outcome
1. English Channel Naval Campaign (1338–1339) English Channel Indecisive
1. Seizure of Brest (1342) Brest, Brittany, France
1. Attack on Winchelsea (1360) Winchelsea, Sussex, England


  1. "Medieval Sourcebook: Jean Froissart: On The Hundred Years War (1337-1453)". Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  2. "Hundred Years' War". Retrieved 15 September 2010.


  • Allmand, Christopher, The Hundred Years War: England and France at War, c.1300-c.1450, Cambridge University Press, 1988, ISBN 0-521-31923-4
  • Braudel, Fernand, The Perspective of the World, vol III of Civilization and Capitalism 1984 (in French 1979).
  • Burne, Alfred, The Agincourt War, Wordsworth Military Library ISBN 1-84022-211-5
  • Seward, Desmond, The Hundred Years War. The English in France 1337-1453, Penguin Books, 1999, ISBN 0-14-028361-7
  • Sumption, Jonathan, The Hundred Years War I: Trial by Battle, University of Pennsylvania Press, September 1999, ISBN 0-8122-1655-5
  • Sumption, Jonathan, The Hundred Years War II: Trial by Fire, University of Pennsylvania Press, October 2001, ISBN 0-8122-1801-9
  • Dunnigan, James F., and Albert A. Nofi. Medieval Life & The Hundred Years War, online book.
  • Wagner, John A. Encyclopedia of the Hundred Years War. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, August 2006. ISBN 0-313-32736-X
  • Bell, Adrian R. War and the Soldier in the Fourteenth Century, The Boydell Press, November 2004, ISBN 1-84383-103-1

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