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Hundred Years War

The War

The war may be dated from 1337, when Edward III of England assumed the title of king of France, a title held by Philip VI. Edward first invaded France from the Low Countries (1339–40), winning small success on land but defeating (1340) a French fleet at the battle of Sluis. In 1346 he won the battle of Crécy and besieged Calais, which surrendered in 1347. In 1356 the English won the battle of Poitiers, capturing King John II of France. After prolonged negotiations, the Treaty of Brétigny was signed (1360); England received Calais and practically all of Aquitaine, as well as a large ransom for the captive king.

The Gascon nobles, oppressively taxed by Edward the Black Prince, appealed (1369) to King Charles V. The war was renewed, and by 1373, Du Guesclin had won back most of the lost French territory. In 1415, Henry V of England renewed the English claims, took Harfleur, and defeated France's best knights at Agincourt. By 1419 he had subdued Normandy, with the connivance of John the Fearless, duke of Burgundy. Philip the Good, successor of John the Fearless, mediated between Henry V and Charles VI of France (see Troyes, Treaty of), and Charles recognized Henry as heir to the crown of France.

By 1429 the English and their Burgundian allies were masters of practically all France N of the Loire, but in that year Joan of Arc raised the siege of Orléans and saw Charles VII crowned king of France at Reims. Her capture by the Burgundians and her judicial murder after extradition to the British did not stop the renewal of French successes. In 1435, Charles obtained the alliance of Burgundy (see Arras, Treaty of). By 1450 the French reconquered Normandy, and by 1451 all Guienne but Bordeaux was taken. After the fall (1453) of Bordeaux, England retained only Calais, which was not conquered by France until 1558. England, torn by the Wars of the Roses, made no further attempt to conquer France.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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