The Hundred Years’ War, lasting from 1337 to 1453, was a series of conflicts between England and France, characterized by intermittent warfare and truces. This prolonged struggle was driven by territorial disputes, claims to the French throne, and economic tensions.
The war’s roots lay in the complex feudal ties between the two nations, with English monarchs holding French territories. The conflict escalated when Edward III of England claimed the French crown in 1337, challenging the Valois line of French kings. The war witnessed several key battles, such as Crécy, Poitiers, and Agincourt, where the English longbow played a decisive role in defeating numerically superior French forces.
The arrival of the Black Death around 1347 brought a significant pause in the conflict, profoundly impacting the social and economic structures of both countries. A notable turning point was the emergence of Joan of Arc, a French peasant girl claiming divine guidance, who played a crucial role in lifting the Siege of Orleans in 1429 and revitalizing French morale.
The war concluded with French victories, largely driving the English out of continental territories except for Calais. The conflict led to the decline of feudalism, the rise of national identities, and significant changes in warfare, including the decline of chivalry and the emergence of professional armies. It also accelerated technological advancements in warfare, such as the use of gunpowder and cannons, and influenced cultural developments, including national literature and shifts in art and architecture.
The Hundred Years’ War was a defining event in medieval European history, shaping the futures of England and France and leaving a profound impact on European society, politics, and warfare.