A History of Great Britain by Robert Balmain Mowat - CHAPTER X - The Hundred Years' War - Part I

August 28 2018

CHAPTER X - The Hundred Years’ War - Part I

The 100 Years’ War was a conflict between France and England. The war is best defined by its important battles and its characteristics.

The war stretched over five English rulers: from 1338, the start of the war was fought under Edward III. and all the way to Henry VI., until the end of his reign in 1453.

There were four deciding battles:

The Battle of Sluys (1340) - won clearly by England.

The Battle of Crécy (1346) - another decisive victory for England

The Battle of Calais (1347) - the taking of Calais would make it an English controlled place for the next 111 years

The Battle of Poitiers (1356) - the English win again, causing French nobles to lose all inhibition and rob their own peasants

The Treaty of Brétigny (1360) - in light of their solid defeat, Edward III. is awarded full power over coveted Guienne and other duchies. Eventually however, most of the French territories would go back to France and hundred years of war would result in little gained by the English and little lost by the French.


The chief cause at the start of the war, was the struggle over Guienne. The ongoing issues with Scotland, who got help from the French, furthered the cause. Both, France and England, also experienced problems stemming from piracy. Edward III. pretended to have this under control, but didn’t.


The Hundred Years’ War was not continuous. Between 1338 and 1346, there were only two major campaigns fought. In 1349, the arrival of the Black Death halted most fighting. The war was again formally opened in 1415, by Henry V.


Besides the lack of continuous fighting; the campaigns also generally only happened during the “campaigning season”, in autumn and summer. Normal village life was little affected over the hundred years, unless a garrison was very close by.


The dragging war resulted in a severe stagnation of development in almost all areas. The rulers of both countries became more despotic, the nobles more arrogant and less concerned with their peasantry and the peasants more miserable. The war would eventually lead to the infamous War of the Roses.