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The Hundred Years War:English & French Kings “Tremble and despair!” / History News


The Hundred Years War between England and France established a hereditary enmity, whose traces are still visible today.

The war began as a classic medieval feud between two dynasties to feudal law claims. When he came to an end more than a hundred years later, he had become a national concern, a milestone in the early development of modern central governments in Western Europe.

He established a hereditary enmity between England and France, which was overcome only in the 20th century with the “Entente cordiale” and after the two world wars, but still continues in political distrust and notorious taunts between “Rosbifs” and “Froggies”, roast beef lovers and frog leg eaters, which differ by lifestyle, mentality and national character.

This Hundred Years’ War, of 1337 dated by historians for reasons of expediency to 1453, although the disputes dating back to the 12th century, changed the map of Western Europe. The English lost after many setbacks and successes their tendency to establish themselves on the continent, and devoted themselves to the development of its own political identity, in which the Crown and the nation symbolically fused together. The French, who repeatedly stood on the edge of the abyss, laid the foundation for the formation of a single, undivided kingdom

that henceforth sought safety in the expansion up to its “natural” geographical boundaries.

It all began as a duel between the Plantagenets with the Capetians. Even the English King Henry II., Who reigned from 1154 to 1189, dominated by inheritance, marriage and purchases most of France and urged the French crown under Philip II. Further and further behind. The tried to dodge to the north and to expand his lands at the expense of the Count of Flanders.

Since the Flemish cloth industry was the most important market of the English wool, England saw endangered his elementary economic interests. In order to protect the vital trade, claimed the London legal and de facto sovereignty over the English Channel. At stake was ultimately the survival of the French royal family.

The Hundred Years War:Edward III. laid claim to the French throne

English King Edward III. ( Longshanks )
English King Edward III. ( Longshanks )

This structural conflict where it was about much more than personal rivalries, could well be decided only by force of arms. The occasion was provided by the French King Philip VI. of Valois. In May 1337 he confiscated Aquitaine in the southwest, a fief of the English king, and let it occupy partly military. In London, Edward III responded. a move that escalated the dispute over land and feudal duties abruptly: He got himself claims to the French throne. For by his mother Isabella, he was a grandson of Philip the Fair, while his opponent Philip Valois was only his nephew.

Legally, of heirs seemed shaky, since Eduard not descended from the male line of the Capetian. Nevertheless, he put the title “Rex Angliae et Franciae” and left to Philip of Valois propaganda to defame a man, “who claims to be king of France”. This could initially localized conflict in the long run in a national war of two monarchs to the French crown, turn into a not only feudal struggle between countries and peoples. Put simply: England France threatened to swallow and to build an empire on this side and beyond the sea.

In retrospect, the gradual increase of feudal conflict to the national war as an evil omen of the future slaughter could also be interpreted that should haunt Europe until very recently – even though the monarchs were anxious before the French Revolution, as a rule, their hostilities to lead in the form of controllable “cabinet wars”, limited in time, space and resources. With all due caution with historical comparisons of the Hundred Years’ War could thus appear as an early harbinger of modern war – an existential fight to the death between nation-states, the struggle for supremacy and self-assertion.

The Hundred Years War: Key pick up with the citizens of Calais


The first major battle took place in the summer of 1346, after King Edward was personally invaded with an invading army of about 12,000 men in the Normandy and Caen had taken. At Crécy north of Abbeville, the two armies clashed on 26 August. The French king, who was greatly outnumbered, let his knights frontal attack. Edward’s troops had taken up a defensive position. His longbowmen mowing down the onrushing waves in several French knights from both sides down with a devastating hail of bullets. The arrows pierced the armor; weapons technology superiority and tactical skills of the English led within a few hours to a complete defeat of the French army.

At the end of the day lay dead over 1500 French knights on the battlefield, including the king’s brother, the Count of Flanders and allied with the French blind King John of Bohemia from the House of Luxembourg, father of the Roman-German king Charles IV. the submerged his senseless heroism in the legend. King Philip VI. himself escaped wounded.

Eduard now moved up north and besieged Calais to win a major for the replenishment and the wool export bridgehead. The city fell only a year later, in August 1347 Key collection by the famous “Burghers of Calais” the sculptor Auguste Rodin immortalized artistic in its impressive sculpture. England remained over two hundred years in the possession of this important strategic outpost.

The Hundred Years War: The shock-founded the rivalry between the two nations


Crécy, where the flower of the French nobility fell, and the consequential surrender of Calais are buried as traumatic shock in the collective memory of the French. However, it was only the first in a chain of disastrous setbacks that almost destroyed the French monarchy, the country planted them the sting of a persistent inferiority complex and established an indelible rivalry between the two nations. She was still after France’s collapse in 1940 strained relationship between Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle felt; old nations have a long memory.

King Edward’s eldest son, called “Black Prince” because of his black armor, devastated the southwest of France. In September 1356, the Battle of Crécy pattern repeated in the near Poitiers; again destroyed the English archers, the French knight squad. John the Good, who was his father Philip succeeded as king, was taken prisoner and was taken as a hostage to England.

France plunged into a serious crisis. A peasant uprising, a revolt of the merchants of Paris and increasing domestic tensions forced the king to a embarrassing for him peace, who brought the British considerable territorial gains. John the Good died on 8 April 1364 in London.

The Hundred Years War: Henry V brought the Normandy firmly in British hands
A English longbow archer in Battle of Agincourt
A English longbow archer in Battle of Agincourt

The next major confrontation on the battlefield was followed on 25 October 1415 at Agincourt. In England there was now Henry V, in France the mentally benighted Charles VI, for a regency council had to be determined -. A source other domestic quarrel. Military had learned nothing nobles of France. They ran, although three times as strong as the English, again in a terrible bloodbath. In the end, the British had massacred 10,000 French and lost itself in the poetically transfigured memory only 29 man. The chroniclers reported the bodies were located in such a bunch that could no longer climb across it. Shakespeare has this great victory of English history celebrated in his play “King Henry the Fifth”: “. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers”

The English victory at Agincourt offset the entire Western world in amazement. The homecoming king Henry was received in London in triumph, he had become the hero of the nation. The success gave the English tremendous self-confidence. The French language, which had until then dominated at court, was ousted. Hatred and distrust of the “foreign” promoted an island mentality, in which the rising national feeling thickened for loyalty to the crown.

The Map of the hundreds year war era
The Map of the hundreds year war era

Enthusiasm for the cause of the king, defamation of his enemies were patriotic bid. The germ of the later English “jingoism”, a British variant of jingoism was placed. Henry brought the Normandy firmly in British hands. With the Treaty of Troyes (1420), although he recognized the king Charles VI. for its lifetime as French ruler to. But he married the daughter of the French king, Catherine, and should succeed in the kingdom after Charles’ death.

Henry V and Charles VI. died 1422 in quick succession, so that the one-year son Henry was from his marriage to Catherine not only King of England (as Henry VI.), but after the Treaty of Troyes also King of France.

The Hundred Years War: Jeanne d’Arc: with white armor and banner lilies to the top

But the real Dauphin, the son of Charles VI., Which should be excluded under the contract forever from the throne, built in Bourges a counter-government, from where its influence on large areas of central France and the provinces south of the Loire (with the exception of English Gascony) covered. During the British planned improved their military position under the Duke of Bedford, was the Dauphin, the. Now claimed the French crown when Charles VII, surprisingly passive, as if he had resigned. A miracle saved him.

A peasant girl from the village of Domremy in Lorraine, Jeanne d’Arc, barely 19 years old, was released in late February 1429 at the court of the Dauphin in Chinon, to proclaim a message that heavenly voices had told her.

Joan of Arc burning
Joan of Arc burning

With great conviction she wore before her vision, a commission of theologians confirmed their credibility. In white armor and banner with a lily she succeeded at the head of a small band to support the besieged by the English city of Orléans on the Loire. The unsettled Englishman went away eventually, and the forces of the Dauphin made ​​his continued their way to the ancient coronation town of Reims, as Johanna desired and had prophesied. On 18 July 1429, Charles VII. Was crowned and anointed in the presence of Joan in the Cathedral of Reims.

This was an act of substantial political importance: The French in the occupied north could no longer ignore that they again had a national king. The myth of Joan of Arc was born, France had its patron saint. Her faith in the divine mission to throw the British out of the country, affected the whole nation. The liberation of the country was no longer just a matter of rival nobles, the special object of the moved together in mystical union under the spell of a divine messengers of a whole people.

The Hundred Years War: Hopes for a national savior from times of crisis

The beleaguered British tried to defend itself by also sought supernatural forces. After all, God, as they thought, till then been on their side. Joan a saint? A witch! When she came before Compiègne in captivity in May 1430 made ​​it her in Rouen the process. Judges and referees you chose French collaborators, even before protocol forgeries did not shrink one. At the end of the ideas of that time, even after legally highly problematic “Inquisition proceedings” Joan was burned alive on 30 May 1431 the marketplace of Rouen – a political show trial and a crime, like every French schoolchild is inculcated today.

So the right-wing National Front pivots, the promises of France resurgence to past greatness, his Paniere today in memory of Jeanne d’Arc. That put so many French voters always hopes for a national savior from times of crisis, it was Philippe Pétain at Verdun in 1916 or Charles de Gaulle in 1944, or its current would-be imitators, baffled Englishman always anew.

The invaders of the island had lost the military and diplomatic initiative by Jeanne d’Arc show. With the capture of Bordeaux by the French in the Hundred Years War in 1453 came to a virtual end, even if not an official peace treaty was signed. The British had left their possessions on the mainland, their ambitions to an Anglo-French Doppelkönigtum had failed.

The Hundred Years War: Together in mutual fascination and foul discord

A bizarre reverberation sounded again in France debacle of 1940, when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill Paris offered a Franco-British Union.

Paris and London remain united in mutual fascination and bilious discord. Jean Froissart, the chronicler of the Hundred Years War, stated: “There is no more dangerous people under the sun than the English.” Conversely reviled the anonymous author of “invective against France,” the French as effeminate and pharisaical; they were compared with lynx, foxes, snakes and – symbols of falsehood. Even the naval hero Lord Nelson exhorted his compatriots in the 18th century: “You must hate the French as the devil.” Emperor Napoleon made ​​the word “perfidious Albion L'” then for fixed term throughout Europe: “Tremble and despair, perfidious Albion!”

In the middle of the signed on April 8, 1904 Entente cordiale, the “cordial agreement” between Britain and France, was Georges Clemenceau, France’s “Tiger” in the First World War: “England, which is a French colony that has fallen on the wrong track . ”
And President Charles de Gaulle based his rejection of the British application for membership to the European Community in 1963 as: “. Britain is an island nation, focused on the lake”

It almost seems these days back so far that England withdraws from the continent and from the EU. After all, the German chancellor is struggling, with London and Paris to form a triangle of reason – of the enmity over the Entente Cordiale to the Triple Entente.

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