England in the 14th Century
Section 1: The Start of the 14th Century in England
- Before the outbreak of The Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453), there was relative stability within England’s borders.
- King Edward III was on the throne, following his father Edward II’s deposition in 1327.
- Edward III was initially led by regents, but he recovered control in a coup in 1330.
- Renaissance and chivalric ideals were prevalent in Edward III’s court.
- The crown held a significant degree of authority, but also required the assent of nobles and clergy.
- Despite outbreaks of famine and disease, the country was reasonably prosperous, with wool being critical to the economy.
Section 2: The Hundred Years’ War Era
- Initiated in 1337, the Hundred Years’ War was effectively a series of intermittent conflicts between English and French royalty and their respective supporters.
- Edward III claimed the French crown, leading to disputes against French King Philip VI.
- The war affected trade, causing significant financial strain on both England and France.
- The Battle of Crécy (1346) and the Battle of Poitiers (1356) were key victories for England. However, these did not end the war.
- The Black Death (1348-1350) struck England during this era, drastically decreasing the population and causing extensive social and economic turmoil.
Section 3: Effects of War, Plague, and Domestic Upheavals
- The war and the plague had a profound effect on England’s economy, leading to a shortage of labour, high wages and increased taxation.
- Peasant unrest culminated in the Peasants’ Revolt (1381), incited by tax demands and dissatisfaction over serfdom and feudal services.
- The revolt saw Wat Tyler and John Ball leading thousands against authorities in protest, reaching as far as London.
- The revolt was suppressed, but it forced authorities to reconsider their policies, leading to a scaling back of serfdom.
Section 4: End of the Century and King Richard II
- Edward III’s grandson Richard II succeeded the throne after Edward’s death in 1377.
- Richard II’s rule was marked by political conflict with the nobles and hostility from the commons.
- Richard II faced rebellion but quashed it, leading to his controversial reign and eventual deposition by Henry IV, causing a transfer of power from the Plantagenets to the House of Lancaster.
It is important to understand the broader historical context while studying England in the 14th century, the conflicts, societal changes, domestic upheavals and their far-reaching implications help one analyse the tumultuous century. This study lays the groundwork for further study of England’s history in the following centuries.