The Course of the War

The Course of the War

The Outbreak of the War

  • The war, originally named the Hundred Years’ War, began in 1337 due to disputes over the French throne and territories.
  • King Edward III of England claimed the throne of France as he was the grandson of King Philip IV of France.
  • The French rejected his claim and chose Philip of Valois, hence initiating the conflict.

Main Battles and Events

  • The war consisted of a series of battles, skirmishes, and naval engagements with periods of peace in between.
  • The Battle of Sluys (1340) was a significant naval victory for the English and gave them control over the English Channel.
  • The Battle of Crécy (1346), where English longbowman played a crucial role, marked another substantial victory for Edward III.
  • The Treaty of Brétigny (1360) ended the first phase of the war, and Edward renounced his claim to the French throne in return for recognised control over parts of France.

Political and Economic Impact

  • The war had a significant economic impact. It drained the treasury and necessitated heavy taxation, leading to widespread social discontent.
  • Military failure, coupled with poverty and taxes, led to political upheaval and the Peasants’ Revolt.
  • Another significant implication of the war was the shift in military tactics. The success of disciplined longbowmen over chivalric knights at Crécy changed the face of warfare.

The End of the First Phase

  • Even though the first phase of the war ended with the Treaty of Brétigny, hostilities did not truly cease. Skirmishes and haphazard fighting continued, paving the way for a second phase.
  • Edward III’s successor, Richard II, struggled to maintain control over the French territories won by his grandfather.
  • The period also saw challenges to the king’s authority within England (the Good Parliament of 1376), further illustrating the political instability and turmoil caused by the war.