The Hundred Years War

The hundred years war actually lasted around 116 years in all and was a series of battles between the feuding English and French Kings. The hundred years war started when King Charles the IV of France died and Edward III of England noticed there was no heir to the French throne and wanted to claim it for himself. The hundred years war was fought between France and England over who controlled France, with successive English Kings claiming their right to the French throne and it’s lands.

“we few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother……. ” battle cry by Henry V before the battle of Agincourt

Early years of the hundred years war

In the initial battles of the hundred years war the English were more successful as they used superior battle tactics which brought them famous victories in the battles of Agincourt, Crecy and poitiers. In particular it was the use of Longbowmen in tightly packed formations of around 1000 soldiers that destroyed the French Knights, in these battles the normally dominant French Knights had no answer to the constant stream of arrows that rained down on them from the English longbowmen.

100 years war

Time-line of battles during the 100 years war

Hundred years war | battle of Agincourt

One of the most famous battles during the hundred years war was the battle of Agincourt, Henry V had become the King of England in 1413 and he immediately set about renewing the claim of Edward III for the French throne. The French thought they had the superior army with around 30,000 French Knights amassed in a muddy field in France. The English army only numbered 6000 many of which were longbowmen.

However the French had underestimated how the English would use their longbowmen during many battles of the hundred years war, groupings of up to 1000 longbowmen would unleash a hail of arrows upon the French Knights who were virtually sitting ducks. The French Knights also got stuck in the mud as arrows rained down on them, and the French Knights fled back through their own advancing footsoldiers. This caused chaos in the French ranks and the English were able to take advantage, the longbow men dropped their longbows and joined the attack with the English Knights and the French Knights were massacred.

Hundred years war and the black Prince

Edward III son was known as the Black Prince, he was a skilled military man and won a famous battle at the battle of Crecy he was also able to capture the French King in the battle of poitiers and was responsible for seizing the French town of Calais, by 1360 the English had captured a large amount of French land, however most of this land was won back by the French in later battles of the hundred years war

The hundred years war | Henry V

Henry V captured Harfleur in 1415 from the French army, he also won the battle of Agincourt with his superior battle tactics and in particular the way he used his crossbowmen during the hundred years war. Henry V thought that he was going to be the next King of France and he was probably justified in this opinion at the time, however the French King had different ideas and this caused fighting to break out yet again during the Hundred years War

Joan of Arc 100 years War

Joan of Arc on horseback during the 100 years war

Hundred years war | John of Arc

At the age of 16 a young peasant women called Joan of Arc claimed that she heard voices telling her that it was her mission to liberate France during the hundred years war. France had lost many battles to English armies during the Hundred years War and in 1429 the English had won a lot of French land. The rise of Joan of Arc from a peasant girl to a commander of French troops was nothing short of spectacular, she helped to inspire the French army and was successful in breaking the English dominance, it was on her guidance that the siege of all Orleans was broken in 1429 by the French army. Unfortunately for the French her leadership was short lived however and just over a year later Joan of Arc was captured by the English army, she was then accused of being a witch and burned at the stake.

End of the hundred years war

The hundred years war lasted approximately one hundred and sixteen years and there was many advances made by the English who at one point had captured vast amounts of French land, however they were constantly beaten back by French armies and at the end of the hundred years war were finally driven out France with nothing to show for the continual battles during this period. In 1453 the French finally captured the town of Bordeaux from English and this led to the eventual end of the hundred years war

Hundred years war interesting facts:

  • 1337 – The year that the hundred years war began
  • 1346 – English win the battle of Crecy
  • In the battle of Crecy the French had 30,000 Knights at their disposal
  • in the battle of Crecy the English had a combined force of 6000 Knights and archers
  • 1415 – Henry V defeat of the French in the battle of Agincourt
  • 1429 – Jeanne d’arc also known as Joan of Arc drives the English out of French town Orleans
  • A succession of English Kings claimed the French throne starting the hundred years war
  • English longbowmen destroy French knights and kill their horses in the battle of Agincourt & Crecy
  • The English army are dominant in the early battles of the hundred years war
  • Joan of Arc claimed she heard voices from God to liberate France
  • John of Arc inspired the French army and defeated the English in Bridgetown, New Orleans
  • Joan of Arc was eventually captured and burned at the stake by the English army
  • The French eventually reclaimed most of the land that had been won by the English army
  • In 1453 the Hundred years war came to an end when the French captured town of Bordeaux
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