The Hundred Years War - Encywiki

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The Hundred Years War

The Hundred Years War

  The Hundred Years War was a very complex war, fought between France and England (with the occasional intervention of other countries), over three main conflicts. In particular, the nations fought over control of the Gascony region in France, rebellions supported by Britain in French cloth production towns, and English claims to the French throne after the death of Charles IV.

The war, initially sparked by a dispute over who would become King of France after the death of King Charles IV, quickly became an amazingly complex and multi-faceted war. King Edward III and his son Edward, commonly known as "The Black Prince", invaded Aquitaine, a huge region in southwest France claimed by England. As time went on, the Kings of England and France involved themselves in many more operations, ranging from a civil war in Brittany, trade disputes in what became Belgium, even a war in Castile. The three major battles of the Hundred Years War, Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt, were resounding English victories, the flower of French nobility being cut down at every battle. However, even though the English won every major battle and many of the smaller ones, relatively poor England was never able to subdue southern France, by far the wealthiest portion of France, which eventually led to the English losing the war. 

   " ... The Hundred Years War lives on in the imagination. When you visit these places you should, as Shakespear puts it in his Prologue to Henry V, ' on your imaginary forces work'. Try and imagine those thundering squadrons of glittering knights, coursing about the battlefield. See with you mind's eye, those silent troops of English arches, waiting implacably to stop the foe in his tracks and build up a pile of dead before their line. People the walls of castles with defenders and cloak the city walls with banners and blazonry. Imagine the weight of armour on a hot summer's day. Consider, when you cannot follow the map, just how difficult it must have been in the Middle Ages to even find the enemy in a land empty of signposts and willing informants. A generous dose of imagination will help bring the past black to life and inspire you to continue your own search into the causes and events of the Hundred Years War..."

"... Where have historians sought the causes of the so-called Hundred Years War? Traditionally, the answer has been found in the study of the two main factors which were at issue in the years leading up to what is regarded as the moment of outbreak of war, the confiscation of the duchy of Aquitaine by King Philip VI of France in May 1337. This act brought to a head problems of long standing whose roots were to be found in two factors. The first was that, since the eleventh century, the kings of England had been lords of much of north-western France, an area extending from Normandy (in the time of William the Conqueror) through Maine, Anjou, Touraine, and Poitou to the duchy of Aquitaine which, a century later, Henry II had come to control through his marriage to the duchess, Eleanor, previously the wife of Louis VII of France. There thus stretched from the Channel to the Pyrenees an 'empire' (termed Angevin), ruled by one man who was also king of England. At the same time there had grown up, mainly during the twelfth century, the extension of the authority of the royal house of France, the dynasty of Capet, through the insistence that the homage due from the great feudatories to their king should be 'liege'. Then, when King John took over the French lands which he had inherited in 1200, he was allowed to do so only on condition that he should recognise them as being fiefs held of the king of France. The power of that king, Philip-Augustus, over his vassal was further increased when, in 1203 and 1204, he conquered Anjou and Normandy which John, in spite of an attempt to do so in 1214, never recovered. Nor was his heir, Henry III, any more successful, although he took part in an enterprise in western France in 1230. In October 1259 Henry sealed a peace treaty with Louis IX (St Louis) of France whereby, in spite of his son's objections, he renounced his claim to Normandy, Maine, Anjou, Touraine and Poitou, while the French king, recognising Henry as his vassal in Aquitaine and other territories in the south-west, created him a peer of France. The terms might appear generous to the English. In reality, since they established a new feudal relationship between the kings of France and England, they sowed the seeds for much future trouble.
The sources of that trouble were twofold. The first was the liege homage owed by Henry III (and, in future, whenever there might be a change of king in either England or France) to the kings of France, a kind of priority' homage which could involve the giving of military aid against any enemy of the French crown whenever it was demanded. Equally, the giver of homage could not act in concert with, or give help to, any of his lord's enemies. By creating a peerage for Henry III, Louis IX was only emphasising further the closeness of the allegiance which bound the two men.

Secondly, and in this case a matter of particular importance, was the fact that the duchy of Aquitaine was held by a king who, for purposes of this treaty, had become a vassal of another king. Such a situation was likely to make for untold complications. Thus, for instance, there were places within the lands held by the king-duke which were subject to a hierarchy of courts ultimately controlled by the Parlement, the supreme court of France which sat in Paris. The sovereign legal rights of the French crown could, if and when required, be put to good political use in undermining the authority and prestige of the king-duke within his duchy. Appeals could be heard and judicial enquiries set in motion by bodies outside the duchy. And all the while such actions lessened the actual legal powers and authority of the king-duke, serving to encourage factional dissension within Aquitaine and, in particular, within its capital, Bordeaux..."

The Hundred Years War Reviewed by encywiki on March 13, 2019 Rating: 5 The Hundred Years War   The Hundred Years War was a very complex war, fought between France and England (with the...

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