Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Hundred Years War (the 117 Years War just doesn't sound right)

For more than a century (circa 1336-1453) England and France fought a ruinous series of conflicts (it was never one constant war-nor was there any true periods of total peace) over control of the land of France and the French crown.

Throughout the period the English and Welsh longbowmen were one of the key weapons in the English arsenal. With a range of up to 400 yards and the ability to fire up to six aimed shots a minute, the longbow was a fearsome weapon for the French to face.

In several battles (Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt being the most famous) the smaller English army was able to overcome greater French numbers through superior tactics and the massive firepower of the longbow.

English King Henry V of the House of Plantagenet (1413-1422) was the most successful of the English kings in the war.  Through the Treaty of Troyes, he was even able to force French King Charles VI of the House Valois (1380-1422) to proclaim Henry the rightful heir to the throne (upon the death of Charles).  Unfortunately for the English, Henry died first (of dysentery) and the French voided the treaty.

In 1429, the teenage Maid of Oreans, Jeanne d'Arc (burned as a witch by the English in 1431), rallied the French Army and broke the English siege of Orleans. The Victory revised French spirits at a time when the English were politically divided.  The final phase of the war had now begun.
The final battles were more and more dominated by the latest in warfare weapons, gunpowder fire arms and cannons. The days of heavily armored warriors were numbered as was English control of France. In the end, the two countries remained independent of each other, but the animosity of a century of war lead to more than a dozen major other wars between the two over the next four centuries, with the Seven Years, American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars among the most important.

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