Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was fought between France and England during the late Middle Ages. It lasted 116 years from 1337 to 1453. The war started because Charles IV of France died in 1328 without a son. Edward III of England then believed he had the right to become the new king of France through his mother.
The French did not want a foreign king, so Philip VI of France said he ought to be king because by the Salic law women could not rule or transmit the right to rule to their sons. The two countries went to war because of this disagreement.
At the beginning of the war France was the stronger of the two countries. France had about 17 million people while England had only about 4 million people. France had an alliance with Scotland against England, and England tried to ally with parts of the Low Countries. The English won a great victory at sea in the Battle of Sluys in 1340 which prevented France from invading England. After that the war was fought almost totally in France. England won again at the Battle of Crécy in 1346: the English longbow was part of the reason for the victory.
From 1348 to 1356 there was very little fighting because of the Black Death. Then Edward, the Black Prince won the Battle of Poitiers for England. King John II of France was captured during the battle. The English invaded France again but were not able to take any more cities. A truce gave England about one quarter of France.
The new king Charles V of France was more successful, with Bertrand du Guesclin as his best knight. The Black Prince was busy at another war and Edward III was too old to lead an army again. So France allied with Castile against England and Portugal. France won back many French towns from the English during this time. A peace followed from 1389-1415.
Then the most famous part of the war began. Henry the V of England invaded France and won the Battle of Agincourt with many bowmen. King Charles VI of France was insane and unable to rule, and nearly all his sons died young. The queen of France Isabeau of Bavaria married one of her daughters to Henry the V and signed the Treaty of Troyes to make Henry V the next king of France. Both Henry V and Charles VI died at almost the same time. So the English believed Henry VI of England was the new king of France and many French people agreed. Charles VI's last son Charles VII of France said he ought to be the new king, but many people said he did not deserve to be king because somebody else had probably been his father.
The English continued to capture land in France until Joan of Arc led the army to success at the Siege of Orleans and the Battle of Patay in 1429. She regained many cities and brought Charles VII to his coronation, but she did not recover Paris. Her enemies captured and killed her. After her death the French continued to take back territory, although more slowly. France had a diplomatic win in 1435 with the Treaty of Arras. The war ended in 1453.
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