The Hundred Years War

This essay has a total of 1996 words and 8 pages.


The Hundred Years War





The Hundred Years’ War was a war between England and France in which France
defended its’ crown against British rule. This war had many effects on the people of each
country.
The origin of the war goes back to the conquest of William for England. In 1066
William, the Duke of Normandy, led an army into England. He won this battle and
became the king of England. This was possible under feudalism. Feudalism is a form of
social classification in which the members of an upper class are granted fifes, or pieces
of land, by higher ranking noblemen return for their military service. The vassal, the
person receiving the land, had to go through ceremony in which they would say that they
would be faithful to their overlord and fight for them if needed. In return the overlord
would protect the vassal (Lace 12).
Many years later Isabella, the wife of King Edward II of England, plotted to kill
Edward II making her son Edward III king (Lace 12). Because Edward III was very
young she would be able to rule the country through him. Edward II sent his son and
Isabella to pay homage to Charles IV in 1325 for French land that Edward II owned.
Isabella took her lover, Roger de Mortimer, with them and while there they began to
make their plans. After homage is paid to Charles IV the three went to Hainault. While
there Isabella and Mortimer convinced the Count of Hainault, William, to help them
overthrow the king. In 1327, with the help of William’s troops, Isabella and Mortimer
successfully overthrew Edward II and made Edward III king. During their overthrow,
King Charles IV of France, Isabella’s brother, died. When he died he had no children to
leave the throne to, but his wife Jeanne was pregnant. When she gave birth though she
had a stillborn daughter. This enabled Charles’ cousin, Philip of Valois, king. Some of
the people objected. Some thought that since Isabella was his sister she was closer to the
throne than Philip and that she should be queen. Others thought that since Edward was
his nephew he should be king, but the majority of the French were against Edward
becoming their king (14). Philip was favored for many reasons: He was older: Philip was
35 and Edward was 15, Edward was under the control of his mother and Mortimer;
Edward was a well known warrior, and Edward was considered a foreigner (14). Edward
then decided that he was tired of being controlled. On October 19, 1330, Edward
gathered a small army together and burst into Isabella and Mortimer’s bedroom. He
seized Mortimer and hung him the next morning. He left Mortimer’s body hanging for 2
days and nights. Isabella was treated more carefully. She was imprisoned and confined to
several castles for life (16). In 1337 Edward III would return to France to claim what he
felt what was rightfully his. (Time Life 17).
On October 19, 1337, Edward III drafted a document to Philip of Valois that said
that Edward was the rightful king of France and that Edward would no longer pay
homage to Philip of the French lands that he owned. This letter was given to him by
Henry Burghersh, the bishop of England. Philip just sat back and smiled and prepared for
war (Time Life 17). Edward drafted this document because he disagreed with the way
that Philip was ruling the land that he owned. There were dukes and lords appointed by
Philip to rule over the lands of Edward III. Edward wanted to rule them himself. The two
tried to work out their differences, but failed. This situation was made more awkward
because of other economic problems between the 2 countries. England and France
depended on each other. France was England’s main supplier of salt and France
depended on England for wool. English also held the port at Bordeaux in France enabling
them to control transportation along the English Channel. Philip of Valois wanted to
control the sea traffic so he began to form links with Scotland, England’s hostile
neighbor. England and Scotland were not on good terms with one another and had been
fighting since the 1290’s (19).
In 1314 the English, under Edward II lost to the Scottish at Bannockburn. Edward
III made a treaty with the Scottish in 1328 but intervened in 1329 when their leader
Robert Bruce, died. The English then deposed David II, Bruce’s son and the new king.
To help form a bond with the Scottish the Philip gave David shelter in France (Lace 18).
Edward III got his revenge on the Scottish in 1332. He got a small group of
Scottish rebels together and after winning a series of major battles named Edward Baliol
their leader. Baliol acknowledged Edward III as his overlord. The Scottish chased Baliol
over the Scottish border in December. Edward marched north and surrounded them at
Berwick. The Scottish sent an army, but Edward defeated them at Halidon Hill in
July,1334 (Lace 18).
Philip of Valois then moved some of his ships from Mediterranean ports to a
harbor at Normandy. Edward III saw these ships and thought that this was an attempted
attack on him. He challenged Philip to a battle in 1337, but Philip declined (Time Life
20).
As the war began both sides had distinct advantages and disadvantages. The
French were backed by plentiful material resources such as a broad fertile kingdom, 21
million people, and many mountains as well as plains (Lace 21). The English were
backed by the loyalty of Edward’s nobles and he was also able to get parliament to raise
taxes to fund the war. France was plagued by the lack of political and financial support
accompanied by the inability to raise taxes. Philip was afraid that the people of Ypres,
Ghent, and Bruges would declare Edward their king because they depended on English
wool to keep their economy running. The English’s problems were that they were much
poorer than France and that with a population 1/4 the size of France they would have a
much smaller army.Farmland was also a problem because it was only good in the east
(Time Life 21).
The two social classes of the two countries were very similar with just one
distinct difference which Edward opposed. Both had a large rural peasantry with free
tenants and serfs. The tenants and serfs lived on the farmland that they farmed which was
owned by nobels. In the towns there were many artisans merchants and clerks on the
streets. These were considered the middle class people. The nobles were separated into
two classes. The first class was made up of lesser lords who owned small estates and had
local powers. The higher aristocracy was made up of the small elite. These were dukes,
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