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The Hundred Year’s War

This map is part of a series of 8 animated maps showing the history of Middle Ages.

In the early 14th century, relations between the powerful kingdoms of France and England were strained due to decades of tensions over Guyenne. This fief of the King of England was part of the kingdom of France, putting the English sovereign in the uncomfortable position of being both king and vassal of the French king. In 1328, the accession to the French throne by Philip VI, nephew of Philip IV the Fair, further soured relations. Edward III of England, grandson of Philip the Fair though his mother, also claimed the French crown, but the French aristocracy invoked Salic law to rule out the possibility of inheritance through the female line.

These tensions eventually led to a declaration of war in 1337. At first, the English won repeated victories: the battles of Sluys, Crécy and Poitiers especially were crushing defeats for the French fleet and army of knights.

In 1360, under the Treaty of Brétigny, the French king John II the Good was forced to hand vast territories over to his rival.

Four years later, Charles V ascended the French throne. The new king took the time to consolidate his authority, reorganise an army and forge an alliance with Castile. Then, in 1368, he broke the peace treaty and undertook a long and patient campaign of reconquest. By 1380, the English had only a few strongholds left, including Calais, Brest and Bordeaux, and were even attacked on their coastline by Franco-Castilian raids.

In the following decades, the madness of King Charles VI and the civil war between Armagnacs and Burgundians plunged the kingdom of France into crisis. The Burgundians eventually allied with the English and after an overwhelming victory at Azincourt, King Henry V of England took control of Paris and northern France. The Treaty of Troyes in 1420 made Henry V regent of France and heir to the throne.

The Treaty of Troyes was resented by much of the population. Joan of Arc crystallised this opposition: she had the Dauphin Charles crowned in Reims in 1429 before leading several victorious campaigns against the English.

After Joan of Arc’s death, Charles VII managed to make peace with the Duke of Burgundy. He thoroughly reorganised the army, straightened out the kingdom’s finances and focussed his efforts on beating the English: he recaptured Normandy in 1450 and Guyenne in 1453 after the victory at Castillon.

The war did not officially end until 1475, with the Treaty of Picquigny. Calais remained an English possession until 1558.