The Hundred Years' War

   The Hundred Years' War was a series of wars between England and France, extending through rather more than a hundred years (1338-1453). The wars began in the reign of Edward III. Ever since William the Conqueror, who was a French vassal, had seized the throne, the English monarchs had been vassals of France, owing the French monarch allegiance for Normandy and other large fiefs. The French monarchs had no desire for vassals so powerful, and lost no opportunity to transfer these holdings to French noblemen. John, the unworthy king, and Henry III lost heavily on the Loire; and, while the Edwards, father and son, were trying unsuccessfully to make Scotland a fief of the English crown, the French monarch took advantage of them and they lost Aquitaine, the last fief held under the French crown. Edward III of England set up a claim not to the lost fiefs, but to the French crown, and added "King of France" to his title. A series of invasions of France followed. Hostilities were carried on in French territory. The English won at Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt. The fairest provinces of France were held by English garrisons. Enormous booty was carried home to England. In 1415 Henry V so far subdued the French that his infant son, nine months' old, was proclaimed "King of France" in Paris. As the civil wars of England, known as the Wars of the Roses, drew on, the French succeeded in driving the English from all their holdings but Calais. The English claim to the throne of France was relinquished formally in 1802.