The Hundred Years War was a long, complicated war

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The Hundred Years War was a long, complicated war with
it’s roots in political struggles, the want of Kings and the people of
their nations to expand territory, and to take territory that they believe
is theirs. This war lasted more than a century, from 1337-1453, and
was a actually a series of wars broken only temporarily by treaties
doomed to fail.

The English king controlled much of France, particularly in
the fertile South. These lands had come under control of the English
when Eleanor of Aquitaine, heiress to the region, married King Henry

II of England in the mid-12th century. There was constant bickering
along the French-English frontier, and the French kings always had to
fear an English invasion from the South. Between Flanders in the North
and the English in the South, they were caught in between the two

English colonies.

The French responded by doing the same to the English.

They allied with the Scots in an arrangement that persisted well into the

18th century. Thus the English faced the French from the south and the

Scots from the north.

The French trap would only work if the French could invade

England across the English Channel. Besides, England could support
their Flemish allies only if they could send aid across the North Sea,
and, moreover, English trade was dependent upon the free flow of
naval traffic through the Channel. Consequently, the French continually
tried to gain the upper hand at sea, and the English constantly resisted
them. Both sides commissioned what would have been pirates if they
had not been operating with royal permission to prey upon each other's
shipping, and there were frequent naval clashes in those constricted

The last son of King Philip IV, the fair, died in 1328, and the
direct male line of the Capetians finally ended after almost 350 years.

Philip had had a daughter, however. This daughter, Isabelle, had
married King Edward II of England, but her and a group of barons had
murdered him, because they thought he was incompetent. So, Edward

III their son was declared king of England. He was therefore Philip's
grandson and successor in a direct line through Philip's daughter. The

French could not tolerate the idea that Edward might become King of

France, and French lawyers brought up some old Salic Laws, which
stated that property, including the throne, could not descend through a
female. The French then gave the crown to Philip of Valois, a nephew
of Philip IV. Nevertheless, Edward III had a valid claim to the throne
of France if he wished to pursue it.

Although France was the most populous country in Western

Europe and also the wealthiest, England had a strong central
government, many veterans of hard fighting on England's Welsh and

Scottish borders, as well as in Ireland, a thriving economy, and a
popular king. Edward was disposed to fight France, and his subjects
were more than ready to support their young king who was only 18
years old at the time . Also many went to "loot and pillage the fair and
plenteous land of France."1

The war truly started in 1340. The French had assembled a
great fleet to support an army with which they intended to crush all
resistance in Flanders. When the ships had anchored in a dense pack at

Sluys in modern Netherlands, the English attacked and destroyed it
with fire ships and victory in a battle fought across the anchored ships,
almost like a land battle on a wooden battlefield. The English now had
control of the Channel and North Sea. They were safe from French
invasion, could attack France at will, and could expect that the war
would be fought on French soil and thus at French expense. "A three
year truce was signed by England and France in 1343, but in 1345

Edward again invaded northern France1." The Black Death had
arrived, and his army was weakened by sickness. As the English force
tried to make its way safely to fortified Channel port, the French
attempted to force them into a battle. The English were finally pinned
against the coast by a much superior French army at a place called

Crecy. Edward's army was a combined force: archers, pikemen, light
infantry, and cavalry; the French, by contrast, clung to their
old-fashioned feudal cavalry and used the powerful, but slow firing
crossbow. The English had archers using the longbow, a weapon with
great penetrating power that could sometimes kill armored knights, and
often the horses on which they rode. Also, the longbow could fire three
of its arrows to the crossbow’s one

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