The Hundred Years War

The Hundred Years War is known as one of the most pivotal events of European history. While it did not strictly last for a hundred years (it in fact lasted for one hundred and sixteen years

The right of succession to the House of Capet was disputed.
Philip IV of France had three sons, all of whom died without having produced male issues, aside from Louis whose son, John, lived for only five days. In feudal law, Philip IV’s daughter and sole remaining child Isabella of France (mother of Edward III of England) had a claim to the French throne and the seniority of the House of Capet. However, Philip VI of the House of Valois, a more distantly related Capetian cadet branch invoked Salic law which denied the right of any female to take the French throne, and was crowned King of France.

Philip confiscated the Duchy of Aquitaine from Edward for “disobedience” and Edward decided to follow up his claim to all of the Kingdom of France with force; thus began the Hundred Years War between the Plantagenets and Valois. The Hundred Years War took place over three periods in time. The first was the Edwardian War, 1337–1360, and was particularly successful for the Plantagenets winning battles at Crécy and Poitiers leading to the Treaty of Brétigny.

Edward had to deal with the Black Death during his reign but was able to make vital developments in legislature and government. In England, his reign developed a strong sense of national identity due partly to the ongoing wars. He founded the chivalric Order of the Garter which essentially saw nationalisation of the aristocracy. His later years were less successful in comparison with political problems at home and renewed problems with Valois. The death of Valois’ John II in English captivity during 1364 instigated the rise of Charles V of France who had capable allies.

The second period of the Hundred Years War, known as the Caroline War, broke out. The Plantagenets were led by Edward’s sons Edward, the Black Prince and John of Gaunt. The Black Prince died in 1376 of an illness that may have been cancer. Edward III himself died of a stroke the following year, following illness caused by an abscess.