Hundred Years War
November 28, 2021
The Hundred Years War was a conflict between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of France which lasted, with various interruptions, one hundred and sixteen years, from 1337 to 1453; the causes that triggered it were various, but the official pretext was the dynastic question on the French crown claimed in 1336 by Edward III of England and Duke of Aquitaine as grandson of Philip IV of France. The war began favorably for the English who, under the leadership of Edward the Black Prince, inflicted heavy defeats on the French at Crécy (1346) and Poitiers (1356), where they even managed to capture King John II of France. With the Treaty of Brétigny of 1360 Edward III renounced his hereditary claim on France, however, guaranteeing the dominion of all Aquitaine and Calais. Eight years later the truce was broken by Charles V of France, who managed to regain much of the territory ceded to the English. Between 1407 and 1435 France was torn apart by a civil war between Armagnacchi and Burgundians which, following the alliance of John of Burgundy with Henry V of England, caused the conflict to resume. The battle of Azincourt (1415) marked one of the most serious French defeats: the British occupied the whole north-west and in 1420 even entered Paris; two years later Henry VI of England was appointed king of France. While the British were besieging Orléans, in 1429 the French revolt led by Joan of Arc began, who had received the command of an army from the dauphin Charles VII - in the meantime taking refuge in the south of the Loire. Giovanna managed to break the siege of Orleans, definitively reversing the fate of the war, and to enter Reims, where Charles was crowned king of France. Subsequently, the French were able to expel the British from all continental territories, except for the town of Calais which remained English until 1559. At the end of the hostilities, France had substantially reached the modern geopolitical order. Over the course of the century, new weapons and tactics were introduced that marked the end of armies organized on a feudal basis and centered on the shock force of heavy cavalry. On the battlefields of Western Europe, the professional armies, which have disappeared from the time of the Roman Empire, once again came to light. It was also the first conflict on the continent in which firearms were used in the open field. Despite the considerable duration of the conflict, it was characterized by a relatively small number of battles; nevertheless the French territory suffered enormous devastation from numerous incursions of armed men (called chevauchées, the famous one of the Black Prince of 1355), often occurred in periods of apparent truce, which contributed to the impoverishment of the population and the spread of the black plague. The extraordinary importance of the Hundred Years War, in the history of Europe as a whole, is highlighted by the fact that its end in 1453 is one of the dates conventionally set by modern historiography at the end of the European Middle Ages, also given the concomitant fall of Constantinople.