1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hundred Years' War
HUNDRED YEARS’ WAR. This name is given to the protracted conflict between France and England from 1337 to 1453, which continued through the reigns of the French kings Philip VI., John II., Charles V., Charles VI., Charles VII., and of the English kings Edward III., Richard II., Henry IV., Henry V. and Henry VI. The principal causes of the war, which broke out in Guienne in 1337, were the disputes arising in connexion with the French possessions of the English kings, in respect to which they were vassals of the kings of France; the pretensions of Edward III. to the French throne after the accession of Philip VI.; Philip’s intervention in the affairs of Flanders and Scotland; and, finally, the machinations of Robert of Artois.
During Philip VI.’s reign fortune favoured the English. The French fleet was destroyed at Sluys on the 24th of June 1340. After the siege of Tournai a truce was arranged on the 25th of September 1340; but the next year the armies of England and France were again at war in Brittany on account of the rival pretensions of Charles of Blois and John of Montfort to the succession of that duchy. In 1346, while the French were trying to invade Guienne, Edward III. landed in Normandy, ravaged that province, part of the Île de France and Picardy, defeated the French army at Créçy on the 26th of August 1346, and besieged Calais, which surrendered on the 3rd of August 1347. Hostilities were suspended for some years after this, in consequence of the truce of Calais concluded on the 28th of September 1347.
The principal feats of arms which mark the first years of John the Good’s reign were the taking of St Jean d’Angély by the French in 1351, the defeat of the English near St Omer in 1352, and the English victory near Guines in the same year. In 1355 Edward III. invaded Artois while the Black Prince was pillaging Languedoc. In 1356 the battle of Poitiers (September 19), in which John was taken prisoner, was the signal for conflicts in Paris between Stephen Marcel and the dauphin, and for the outbreak of the Jacquerie. The treaty of Brétigny, concluded on the 8th of May 1360, procured France several years’ repose.
Under Charles V. hostilities at first obtained only between French, Anglo-Navarrais (Du Guesclin’s victory at Cocherel, May 16, 1364) and Bretons. In 1369, on the pretext that Edward III. had failed to observe the terms of the treaty of Brétigny, the king of France declared war against him. Du Guesclin, having been appointed Constable, defeated the English at Pontvallain in 1370, at Chizé in 1373, and drove them from their possessions between the Loire and the Gironde, while the duke of Anjou retook part of Guienne. Edward III. thereupon concluded the truce of Bruges (June 27, 1375), which was prolonged until the 24th of June 1377. Upon the death of Edward III. (June 21, 1377) Charles V. recommenced war in Artois and Guienne and against Charles the Bad, but failed in his attempt to reunite Brittany and France. Du Guesclin, who had refused to march against his compatriots, died on the 13th of July 1380, and Charles V. on the 16th of the following September.
In the beginning of Charles VI.’s reign the struggle between the two countries seemed to slacken. An attempt at reconciliation even took place on the marriage of Richard II. with Isabella of France, daughter of Charles VI. (September 26, 1396). But Richard, having been dethroned by Henry of Lancaster (Henry IV.), hostilities were resumed, Henry profiting little by the internal discords of France. In 1415 his son, Henry V., landed in Normandy on the expiry of the truce of the 25th of September 1413, which had been extended in 1414 and 1415. He won the victory of Agincourt (October 25, 1415), and then seized Caen and part of Normandy, while France was exhausting herself in the feuds of Armagnacs and Burgundians. By the treaty of Troyes (May 21, 1415) he obtained the hand of Catherine, Charles VI.’s daughter, with the titles of regent and heir to the kingdom of France. Having taken Meaux on the 2nd of May 1429, and made his entry into Paris on the 30th of May, he died on the 31st of August in the Bois de Vincennes, leaving the throne to his son, Henry VI., with the duke of Bedford as regent in France. Charles VI. died shortly afterwards, on the 21st of October.
His son, who styled himself Charles VII., suffered a series of defeats in the beginning of his reign: Cravant on the Yonne (1423), Verneuil (1424), St James de Beuvron (1426) and Rouvray (1429). Orleans, the last bulwark of royalty, had been besieged since the 12th of October 1428, and was on the point of surrender when Joan of Arc appeared. She saved Orleans (May 8, 1429), defeated the English at Patay on the 16th of June, had Charles VII. crowned at Reims on the 17th of July, was taken at Compiègne on the 24th of May 1430, and was burned at Rouen on the 30th of May 1431 (see Joan of Arc). From this time on the English lost ground steadily, and the treaty of Arras (March 20, 1435), by which good relations were established between Charles VII. and Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, dealt them a final blow. Normandy rose against them, while the constable De Richemont drove them from Paris (1436) and retook Nemours, Montereau (1437) and Meaux (1439). The quickly repressed revolt of the Praguerie made no break in Charles VII.’s successes. In 1442 he relieved successively Saint Sever, Dax, Marmande, La Réole, and in 1444 Henry VI. had to conclude the truce of Tours. In 1448 the English were driven from Mans; and in 1449, while Richemont was capturing Cotentin and Fougères, Dunois conquered Lower Normandy and Charles VII. entered Rouen. The defeat of Sir Thomas Kyriel, one of Bedford’s veteran captains, at Formigny in 1450, and the taking of Cherbourg, completed the conquest of the province. During this time Dunois in Guienne was taking Bordeaux and Bayonne. Guienne revolted against France, whereupon Talbot returned there with an army of 5000 men, but was vanquished and killed at Castillon on the 17th of July 1453. Bordeaux capitulated on the 9th of October, and the Hundred Years’ War was terminated by the expulsion of the English, who were by this time so fully occupied with the Wars of the Roses as to be unable to take the offensive against France anew.
Authorities.—The chronicles of Jean le Bel, Adam Murimuth, Robert of Avesbury, Froissart and “Le Religieux de Saint Denis.” See Siméon Luce, Hist. de Bertrand du Guesclin (3rd ed., Paris, 1896); G. du Fresne de Beaucourt, Hist. de Charles VII (6 vols., Paris, 1881–1891); F. J. Snell, articles in the United Service Magazine (1906–1907). (J. V.*)
- Arthur, earl of Richmond, afterwards Arthur III., duke of Brittany.
Warning: Default sort key "Hundred Years' War" overrides earlier default sort key "Hundred Years' War".