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Hundred Year War May 7, 2009

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Jessica Stein

Williams – 3

7 May 2009

 

The Hundred Years War

 

As famine strikes, the economy declines and the bubonic plague continues to spread across Europe. These events combined seemed to display the utmost nadir of the time. But of course if that was not yet enough there was more to come, which became to be an unforgettable long and destructive war. Fought between England and France, these sequences of battles became to be known as the Hundred Years’ War.

For centuries, English rulers constantly battled to clutch onto the French lands of their Norman ancestors. The French on the other hand were steering towards expanding their power in France. The French nation itself consisted of Paris alongside small surrounding territories. Although France stood as one of the smaller regions it was also by far the most advanced and strongest European nation. They were ready to acquire new lands, but of course with the assistance of a special young peasant lady and inanimate objects, since obviously their size could not match to those around it.

Being the son of princes Isabella, Edward III exclaimed that he had the right to claim the French throne. Although when France spoke as a whole they pushed towards Philip VI for king and decided to crown him in 1328.  Edward didn’t care much for an excuse of fighting France but in claiming the French crown in 1337, he caused a war to erupt anew between these rival countries. Once fighting took off, a growing sense of pride as well as economic rivalry made it difficult for either side to back out and give in.

It seemed as though in the beginning that England held onto an equal amount of land as France did, under King Henry II. Then right before everyone’s eyes the French were gradually and silently on a mission of expansion. They began to expand their territory and take over English lands. Those who pledged loyalty to England swiftly evacuated the area when their premise was confiscated. And as all this is taking place, alongside naval battles in the English Channel raids became more recurrent. Until finally one day in May the war broke between France and England in 1337.

In the start of this string of battles the English were victorious in many essential battles: in 1346 at Crecy, ten years later at Poitiers, as well as in 1415 at Agincourt. The grand victory at Crecy certainly did not reach the power Edward dearly wanted to obtain, but it certainly was a start. He eventually beset over the port of Calais before it actually became under his control. Calais remained part of England for about 200 years But back to the present: glory filled the air of the England nation as they pranced and praised over their success. On the other hand the nation of France felt humiliated at the fact that a foreign country ravaged their land.

Much of their success is due to the longbow actively employed by English archers. This new innovation of a weapon measures six feet in length and takes many years to master. Yet it can easily discharge three arrows in the equivalent time a French archer merely fires one with his crossbow. Not only that but it pierces all but the heaviest suit of armor. In 1346 this crucial battle won by the English, placed them a step ahead of the game but this was no where near as far as Edward sought after. The seemingly endless victories of the English were taking quite a strain on the people of France’s self-confidence. It began to appear as though the English were going to have all of the French under their control. But then somehow a miracle must have occurred because what was next to follow was only found in the most yearned for dreams of the French.

Partially this wondrous miracle of the French is due to the unfortunate event that struck England at most definitely the worst point in time. In 1348 the Bubonic Plague hit England, and it hit hard. This disastrous catastrophe led to the passing away of one third of the population and this is before it even ended. As this upheaval, which may also be known as The Black Plague reached its climax, Edward stirred up a plan and established the Order of Carter. This in return motivated and rewarded his faithful knights.

In addition to this unfavorable event the war also began to turn in France’s favor after Edward targeted Spain. This operation left quite a whole in the pockets of England’s resources and fortunately for France it gave them another ally in the south. Once Edward assumed the title of King of France again the fighting recommenced in 1369. The French had now a tactic to defend their neighboring friend and sent out a skillful general to press against them. The new general, Du Guesclin incorporated guerilla tactics in fighting against the English. At this point the King of France, Edward, had a dose of aging and became rather sick. Ultimately France regained all the land they had lost, right alongside when the ruler of France passed away in 1377. The only lands England could now acclaim to be theirs was Calais and a few coastal areas. Towards the end of the 14th century the war had slowly diminished down to a sequence of weak invasions and battles.

      Henry V stepped in and became the King of England. Moreover he saw continuous hostility with the French “as a way to channel the energies and fighting mood of his nobility” (Essortment). France itself at the time was ripped apart between the regions of Burgundy and Orleans. Coincidentally enough Charles VI, the French king, experiences bursts of madness: perfect timing for a renewed English assault. With a plan set in mind Henry brought his army to Normandy in 1415. While they marched on over to Calais, a huge French army stepped in out of nowhere and cut them off. Despite England’s small force they were victorious. The end result of the battle left many quite puzzled as to how a larger army lost to a smaller one. Simply since the French continued to rely on troops that serve on horseback and England’s archers demolished them. Approximately 7,000 French men died whereas England’s fighters lost no more than 500.

As Joan of Arc steps into the court of Charles VII, the uncrowned king of France, he has no idea what great fortune she will soon bring to the French. In 1429, this seventeen year old peasant lady tells Charles the VII that God himself has sent her on a journey to save France. Through reasoning Joan persuades the desperate king Charles into allowing her to direct his army against England. To the amazement of many, Joan inspires the melancholic and debilitated troops of France to battle yet again. This astonishing soon to be martyr led France to numerous victories and paved the way for future triumphs.

The incredible success she brought forth finalized in her death. Allies of the English, Burgundian troops took her captive and turned her over to her enemies for trial. The English aimed to defame her so they had her on trial for witchcraft. Shortly afterwards Joan of Arc was convicted as well as painfully burned at stake. The church ultimately declared her as a saint. This execution of such a respected young lady in France greatly angered the French who saw her as a martyr. Thus following her death they quickly took to the offensive. Grasping a powerful new weapon in hand the French prepared for an all out attack on the English. These cannons were a great help to the French in capturing the English-held castles and defeating the troops of England, especially the forces in Normandy.

By 1453, France had the English on a run. In a matter of time Charles VII seized and stormed out the remaining English refuges. And then once capturing Bordeaux, the French left England with only the port of Calais. Taking into consideration that the English were left with only one land in northwestern France, in their minds the Hundred Years War had encountered an end. In reality though, the formal treaty that had to be drawn up in order to end the war between these two rival countries was signed in 1475.

The Hundred Years War yielded numerous effects to the medieval world. The most obvious one being that it set both England and France on two completely different paths. A growing sense of national pride flourished in France which permitted French kings in expanding their power. English rulers repeatedly turned to Parliament during the war for funds in order to assist the body in defeating its enemy. Therefore in seeing their French lands slowly make way back to their original owners their dreams of a continental domain was shattered to pieces. They looked onward to an alternative though, English rulers began peering into new trading projects oversees.

Many alterations arose within the late medieval ages. The cannon as well as the long bow certainly gave soldiers in the battlefield a new meaning. These new innovations also undermined the value of knights in shining armor. Consequently, castles and knights were reaching their final days; they began to fade away since their defenses could be easily penetrated by the more deadly munitions. While knights and castles started to diminish, feudal society was additionally changing. Monarchs now were in need of not mere feudal vassals but larger armies to fight against their rivals.

Citations Page

Ellis, Elisabeth Gaynor. Pearson Education Inc. 2005, New Jersey. Book. 28 Apr. 2009

Gerry Berard. Essortment. 2002. Web. 31 Apr. 2009.

Hundred Years’ War 1337-1453. Invicta Media, 6 Nov. 2003. Web.1 May 2009.

 

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