The Hundred Years' War, was a conflict between England and France, was not actually a single war that lasted a hundred years; instead it was a series of wars interspersed with periods of peace that began in May 1337 and ended in October 1453. The three main conflicts were the Edwardian War won by English king Edward III; the Caroline War won by French king Charles V; and the Lancastrian War won by French king Charles VII. The Hundred Years' War was the outcome of disputes between the ruling families of the two countries, the Plantagenets in England and the Capetians in France. Since 1066 the English had controlled rich agricultural areas of France, and the two countries had often fought over these territories. In the 1300s marriages between English and French nobles meant that both English and French kings had a claim to the French throne.
During the Edwardian War the English took control of large areas of southwestern France and the northern coastal city of Calais. Although England was smaller than France, it was able to muster a large army. Equipped with longbows and arrows that could pierce French armor, the English defeated the French cavalry. During the Caroline War, the French regained much of the territory lost during the Edwardian War. This success was due to able military leaders and the development of a full-time, professional army and a taxation system to support it. During the Lancastrian War, the English allied with Philip the Good, duke of Bourgogne to conquer most of northern and western France. The tide changed, however, when Philip changed his alliance to the French. It was during the Lancastrian War that the heroic efforts of Joan of Arc, who fought the English, allowed uncrowned French king Charles VII to be officially crowned. The use of newly invented cannons also significantly aided the French war effort. Although the English maintained control of Calais until 1558, they were never again a serious threat to French sovereignty rule.
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