The Hundred Year War

Jia Yi Pan (2) Jia Yi PanOrigin of the Hundred Years War

Since the beginning of the nineteenth century, the term ‘The Hundred Years War’ was adopted by historians to describe the sequence of conflicts that erupted between England and France from 1337 – 1453 AD. The origins of this prolonged conflict were generally instigated by England’s desire to claim independent possession from France and Edward III’s succession to the French throne: For over two hundred years since the Norman Conquest, English kings were subjected to the French monarch as vassals and had dominated the duchy of Guyenne and the region of Ponthieu in the early fourteenth century, although it remained as a fief of the French kings; Also when Edward II died, Edward III of England claimed the throne of France as the nephew of Charles IV, the last king of the Direct Capetian Dynasty of France. However, the succession of Edward III was rejected by the French and later ensued the Hundred Years War over the claim of throne. Other factors that motivated the conflict were the interference of France royals between the war of England and Scotland and the English were provoked by French’s domination over Flanders and its wool trade with England. In November 1337, Edward III marched his army into France and began the Hundred Years War.

Main Battles

Although this war between England and France is known as the ‘Hundred Years War’, it was interrupted by many truces. Major battles that destined the fate of England and France were:

Battle of Crécy:

After four years of truce, in 1346 August 26, Edward III led an invasion at the coast of Normandy, north of France. English’s victory in this battle had set the foundation for further invasions for English in France, and had marked the rise of England as a world power as England had not obtained much power prior to this time. Surmounted by the size of the French army, the English still won by the use of long arrows, which has the advantage of injuring the enemy over long distance. The use of long arrow archers also flagged the decline of mounted knight, which was prevalently employed before this battle.

After defeating the French in Crecy, Edward III led another invasion further north into Calais, who surrendered after eleven months of siege by the English army.  In 1350, the demise of King Philippe VI of France and the horror of Black Death desisted the war.

Battle of Poitiers:

In 1356 September, the battle raged again. Under the command of the Black Prince, eldest son of Edward III, the English army advanced towards the central regions of France from Bordeaux, however, his army retreated to Bordeaux after pursued by John II. On September 18, the French attacked the English army on the outskirt of Poitiers. With experienced veterans from the battle of Crecy, the English defeated the French army, capturing John II of France and more than two thousand members from French aristocracy.

In 1360, the Treaty of Brétigny was signed between Edward III and John II, which concluded that the French would pay three million gold crowns in exchange for the release of their king, and the territories of Poitou, Aunis, Saintonge, Angoumois, Guienne, Gascony and Calais will be ceded by the French with Edward III’s renounce to the French throne.                 From 1360 – 1389, France reclaimed most of its territory from England under the command of Charles V, the son of John II. In 1389, a truce was signed by both sides to extend the treaty for another twenty eight years.


Battle of Agincourt:

In the early 15th century, Henry V of reasserted the claim for the French throne, leading his army to win against the French, who were three times greater than the size of the English army at Agincourt, 1415 October 25. Subsequently, the Treaty of Troyes was signed between Henry V and Charles VI of France in 1420. The agreement specified that Henry V would marry Catherine, the daughter of Charles VI, and would inherit the throne of France.

Victory of Joan of Arc at Orleans

The siege of Orleans was a decisive moment of the Hundred Years War, which marked the French’s first major victory in the battles. Since 1428 October, led by the Duke of Bedford, England besieged Orleans for several months. During that time, a young French peasant, Joann of Arc, informed Charles VII that she had received visions from God, who commanded her to aid him to expel England from France. In 1429 May 8, Joann led an army into Orleans and defeated the English army. By 1430, only the coast of Calais was possessed by England.

Battle of Castillon

The unsuccessful attack of the English army at the town of Castillon drew the end of the Hundred Years War in 1453 July 17.


The legacies of the war were not only short term effects; they also shaped the development of England and France. After the Battle of Castillon, the English were expulsed from the land of France and returned to the British Isle. Though a watershed had formed between the two nations, this has compelled the British to set a new political basis and facilitated the independence of the British colony. Also shortly after peace was established, the War of the Roses, a thirty years battle between the houses of Lancaster and York flamed up due to some causes in the Hundred Years War.

With Henry VI‘s insanity, the English relinquished their claim to the French Crown and the house of Valois reasserted the claim. Though much of the lands of France were recovered during the Hundred Years War, the Valois kings regained the remaining regions and unified them into a realm.

The military revolution during the war declined the custom of knights, which had diminished the social standing of nobility in the feudal system as the military service increased the employment to rankings outside of aristocracy and nobility.


Duchy – land ruled by a duke or duchess

Fief – the land that the lord granted to his vassals in the feudal system

Siege – the operation of surrounding and attacking a city or town to isolate their supplies of resources


Trueman.C, History Learning Site, 2015, The Hundred Years War, (accessed 2015 April 26)

Atchley.S, French-at-a-Touch, 2014, The Hundred Years’ War, 1337 to 1453, (accessed 2015 May 2)

Keen.M, British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, 2011, The Hundred Years War, (accessed 2015 May 5)

Wheeler.L, Dr Wheeler’s Website, 2014, The Hundred Years’ War, (accessed 2015 May 5)

Green.D, New Left Project, 2014, The Hundred Years War And The Making Of Modern Europe, (accessed 2015 May 9)

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