The Hundred Years' War: The Edwardian Phase

Updated on August 1, 2018
Asher Bruce profile image

Asher is a young homeschooled teen writer who loves to write about history, especially wars.

War is never a lasting solution for any problem.

— A. P. J. Abdul Kalum

The Beginning of the Hundred Years' War

The Hundred Years' War is one of the longest wars in the history of earth, so I will only focus on one phase: the Edwardian phase. This phase lasted for about a third of the war and started when France decided that they didn't want England to have land on their border, Guyenne, look at the image below for reference, because that was England's main stepping stone in the continent of Europe.

Then Edward III, the King of England in 1337, which is when this war begins, claimed to be the king of France, because by doing that brought up a ~5 year old squabble about the king of France, in which he did not get the monarchy and Philip VI did. So Edward immediately sent a large army through the English channel to invade France and to guard Guyenne. He left an army on the Scotland border since France and Scotland were allied.

Guyenne has been a pain in the neck for France ever since England first captured it
Guyenne has been a pain in the neck for France ever since England first captured it

Recap!

Causes of the war:

1. France wanted Guyenne

2. Edward III claimed that he was king of France and crowned himself

The Battle of Sluys

England sent ~150 ships to invade France and to defend Guyenne, but on the way they came across the swifter and more advanced French navy. So the English acted like they were retreating, and then attacked with the wind and sun behind them.

Edward sent his various ships at the French in sets of three. One ship of infantry-men flanked by archers. The archers would rain fire on the french ships, while the infantry climbed aboard. The English longbows were highly superior to the crossbows in almost every way, and, despite being outnumbered, the English took all of the French ships and killed most of the soldiers on them.

The victory of this battle allowed Edward III to land his army in France, but had very little effect on the rest of the war. The French had many more resources than the English and were able to easily rebuild the fleet and raid most of the convoys trying to bring the English supplies. This victory was celebrated by making coins with the image of Edward seated on a ship printed on the back, representing the victory at Sluys.

The coin commemorates the victory at Sluys
The coin commemorates the victory at Sluys
The Battle of Sluys as shown in Jean Froisssart's Chornicles
The Battle of Sluys as shown in Jean Froisssart's Chornicles

The Start of a New War, the Battle of Crecy, and the Capture of Calias

Now, after this spectacular victory, letting Edward invade France, England ran out of money. The war would've ended there, if not for an argument about the Duchy of Brittanna. This argument started a whole new war while the Hundred Years' War continued, but not at full force.

Eventually, after approximately 5 years, Edward had enough funds and launched a full-scale invasion on France for the second time. Edward and his army landed in Normandy which caught the French off of their guard. He then marched North towards the Low Countries, raiding anything he could find and generally causing havoc.

Coming to the river Sienne, Edward found that the French had destroyed all of the crossings. He headed towards Paris hoping to find a crossing. He found a crossing on the river Somme. By now, Philip VI, the king of France, had gathered an army and was chasing the English force. Unable to out-maneuver the French army, Edward prepared for battle.

Then ensued the battle of Crecy. It was a disaster for the French. They attacked too early, and were mowed down by the longbowmen. They lost most of their army and Edward was free to wreak havoc, but the French had one last card to play. They pled with Scotland to create a diversionary invasion.

Scotland sent an army to England, but England was ready for them. The army that they left at home quickly found, and decimated the Scottish army, leaving France on their own. Edward then proceeded North to Calias, a city on the French coast. Eventually, Edward captured the city. The city was a good place to store troops in France, and would be hard to take when fortified properly.

Quiz!

1. Who is the English King?

2. Who won the battle at Crecey?

3. What helped the English win the Battle of Sluys?

Comment Below!

The Black Death & The Battle of Poitiers

After the English took Calias in 1347, the Black Death struck. It destroyed a good portion of Western Europe as well as killing the king of France. This brought most of the war efforts to a halt. John II was coronated as king of France after the plague had finished its extermination. Then, in 1355, Edward III sent his oldest son Edward IV, or the Black Prince, on a campaign to Bordeaux in Aquatine, one of the provinces in France. After he landed, the Black Prince went on a march through the southern part of France to Carcassone. Since Carcassone was too heavily fortified, the Black Prince was forced to retreat to Bordeaux.

But one year later, the Duke of Lancaster went on a raid through Normandy, so Edward IV ransacked Southern France, destroying everything in his path. He had great success and destroyed many villages and settlements. Eventually, he reached Loire River at Tours, but could not burn the castle because there was a heavy rainstorm. King John II, taking advantage of this oppurtunity, left two-thirds of his less experienced soldiers to have the speed to catch the fleeing army, and raced in front of the retreating English.

Learning of this, the Black Prince suddenly changed direction, trying to avoid combat with the much larger army. Cunningly, the King had guessed his movements, so there was a confrontation. After the Black Prince refused the offer of surrender, the battle began. The English moved there baggage train off the field of war, baiting an attack. French took this as a time of retreat and charged. Swiftly, the Black Prince sent a unit of cavalry to flank the incoming army while the longbows fired.

Not expecting this attack, the French panicked and tried to run away, but they couldn't get out until most of them had been killed and captured, including the King. This massive victory sent the peasants into revolt as the ransom for the King was gigantic, at 3 million crowns.

The Battle of Poitiers
The Battle of Poitiers

The Third Invasion & The End of Fighting for Nine Years

Hoping to capitalize on the chaos in France Edward III launched a campaign to Riems hoping to force a coronation since that was the tradition. Unfortunately, Riems had prepared fortifications, and it was impossible to take the city. Edward tried to force his way into Paris next, but after a few unsuccessful skirmishes on the outskirts of the capital, he moved on to Chartes.

After his army had camped around the city, a freak hailstorm struck, killing over one thousand of Edward's men. Edward was then forced to make a peace treaty with the French by his men. He had to give up most of the land he had gained during the war, reduce the amount for the French King's ransom by one million crowns, and give up his claim to the throne. This is the end of the Edwardian Phase of the Hundred Years' War. After this treaty there are nine years of peace before war breaks out again.

Invasions by The English

Major Invasions
French Losses
English Losses
Invasion That Lead To the Battle of Sluys
Large, All of their Navy but not much impact on the war in general
Minimal, Moral-boosting victory
Invasion That Lead To the Battle of Crecy
Large, let the English roam the country and take Calias, a major asset in the rest of the war
Minimal, Gave the English the opportunity to take Calais
Invasion of the Black Prince That Led to the Battle of Poitiers
Large, Most of their army was captured and killed, along with their King and many nobles
Minimal
Invasion That Lead to the Battles at Reims, Paris, and Chartes
Minimal
Large, Decimated a large portion of the English army and led to the peace treaty that ended this phase of the war and lost most of the land that they had won in the war
No invasions were attempted by the French

© 2018 Asher Bruce

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