The Hundred Years War

Thanks to the Norman-French connection provided by William the Conqueror and his successors, the House of Plantagenet always held a loose claim on the throne of France.

In 1337 AD the Plantagenet King of England, Edward III, declared his rightful ownership of the French crown after some French ships scouted English coastal settlements.

Thus started the Hundred Years War between France and England, which would drag on until 1453 AD.

Though primarily a dynastic conflict, revolving around the throne of France and English territories in that country, the war triggered a wave of French and English patriotism.

(Above) The Battle of Agincourt, 1415 AD, a major victory for the English in the Hundred Years War. The Battles of Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt were won primarily by the Welsh longbow, which had a devastating effect and assured the English armies of superiority.

During the first stages of the war, the English achieved stunning victories at the Battle of Crecy in 1346 AD and at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356 AD, successfully utilising the Welsh longbow, after which the French made a comeback and regained much territory.

The war was punctuated by a series of brief periods of peace, after which war resumed.

(Above) In 1349 AD, the notorious bubonic plague struck England. Carried by rats, the disease managed to exterminate around a third of the entire population.

The final major portion of the war occurred after 1415 AD, when the English king won a major victory at the Battle of Agincourt in that year, again utilising the Welsh longbow.

The war almost ended in an English victory, but the French, inspired by the amazing feats of a peasant girl, Joan of Arc, fought back and finally pushed the last English army back to Calais.

The effect of the Hundred Years War on England was dire.

When there emerged a problem with the succession to the English throne, a serious rebellion broke out.

In 1381, some 100,000 peasants marched on London to protest at high war taxes and the efforts of the English lords to reduce them to a state of virtual serfdom.

The rebellion became famous as the Peasants’ Revolt, or Wat Tyler’s Rebellion.

(Above) The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 AD, where 100,000 oppressed and overtaxed peasants, led by Wat Tyler, staged an ill fated rebellion against the king.

The mob besieged the king of the time, the young Richard II, who met them outside his castle and agreed to meet their demands.

The war bankrupted the English crown, and the loss of French possessions combined with general disillusionment led to a terrible civil war, the War of the Roses, which started in 1455 AD and lasted until 1485 AD.

The War of the Roses was fought between two different branches of the royal family, the houses of Lancaster and York.

The war gained its name due to the badges associated with the two warring houses, both different coloured roses.

After a devastating civil war, the powerful Earl of Warwick switched sides, and the House of Lancaster emerged victorious.

Henry VI was installed as king.

The House of York, however, staged a comeback and overthrew Henry VI, with the throne switching hands several times before Henry Tudor, asserting a weak House of Lancaster claim, finally ended the War of the Roses at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 AD.

Henry Tudor became Henry VII and founded the Tudor Dynasty.

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