The Hundred Years War was considered to be the last medieval war that played a significant role in English history.(Schwarz) The Hundred Years War was a series of wars fought between Great Britain and France with Burgundy playing a small role for the French. Although the conflict lasted over a century the war was broken intermittently by treaties and truces. (Goubert) There were more stalemates than actual battles. (Froissart) Actual fighting didn’t brake out until the mid 1300’s but the conflict stemmed way back to 1066. (Encarta) England held areas of France that the English used in exchange for service and loyalty to the king of France. These areas soon dwindled until very few were left under English control in 1307 when Edward I of England died. (Encarta) One of the remaining fiefs was Gascony. There were often small disputes over this region due to its valuable wine production. This conflict grew larger when Charles the IV of France died leaving no direct heirs to the French throne except Edward III of England who was the grandson of Philip IV. An assembly of French notables was brought together to form the first royal election since 987. Philip of Valois was chosen as King Philip VI. The French overlooked Edward the III for three reasons. One he was still a minor, two, his mother was said to have disgusting character and a scandalous life, and three the French declared, “It should never be seen or known that the kingdom of France should be subject to the government of the king of England.” At first Edward agreed to take an oath of homage to Philip VI, but after conflicts in Guyenne Edward III contested the validity of his declaration of homage towards the King of France since the declaration of Edward’s homage was made when he was still a minor. In 1337 Edward III sent Philip VI a declaration of war. (Goubert)
There were three major conflicts in the Hundred Years War. First was the Edwardian war, which was dominated by Edward III of England. The next war was the Caroline war, which was controlled mainly by Charles V of France. The third and final war was the Lancastrian war, which belonged to Henry V of England and his brother John, the duke of Bedford. (Encarta)
The Edwardian war started out disastrously for France and successfully for England. Although England was smaller and poorer than France, it was able to dominate the early stages of the war due to better-developed taxation processes. With a complicated, drawn-out process of gathering taxes the French frequently found themselves out of money. Although the English dominated the early stages of the war they still had to overcome many disadvantages. Since the English declared war and the disputes were over French territories, the battles were fought on French soil giving the English many expensive transportation charges. Since the English could only afford to send infantrymen and foot soldiers to France the development of the longbow was key to English victories. The longbow could fire an arrow quickly, accurately, and powerfully enabling English archers to destroy French cavalry charges. (Froissart) Philip VI invaded the English territory of Gascony on May 24, 1337. (Schwarz) In retaliation, Edward III reclaimed his right to the French throne and invaded France from the north. The English was a world superpower when it came to the sea, so the destruction of a French fleet at Sluis was not a surprise. This was a major reason for the fighting being on French soil. Since the French couldn’t cross the English Channel invasion of the English islands was impossible. (Encarta) The Battle of Crecy in 1346 was another victory for the English. Following the Battle of Crecy the English captured the French port of Calais in 1347. Edward III’s son initiated the next advancement of English soldiers on French soil. Edward the Black Prince of Wales started his raid in 1355 and marched his men northward until he was cornered by the new French king, John II, near Poitiers, in western France. John II was no competition for the Black Prince who annihilated the French cavalry and took John II and one of his sons hostage. England held John II for ransom. The first two propositions were seen as too