Why & How Did England Lose the 100 Years War

In: Historical Events

Submitted By Aenias
Words 2709
Pages 11
The Treaty of Troyes (1420) looked to have all but secured English victory in the Hundred Years War. England was undefeated in open battle and decisive victories at Crecy (1346), Poitiers (1356) and Agincourt (1415) further reinforced their apparent invincibility in the field. Furthermore the victorious King Henry V had become both the heir and regent of France, a kingdom ruled by a crazed king and crippled by civil war. Yet ultimately the English were defeated and this essay shall explore how the emergence of Joan of Arc, fiscal crises in England and the defection of Burgundy contributed to such a dramatic change of fortunes within the Hundred Years War.

From the outset of the war it was political turmoil within France which drove English success. King Edward III compensated for England’s comparatively small army by capitalising on ‘provincial grievances and provincial separatism’ to acquire the support of key nobles within both Brittany and Normandy by 1354. Faced with the superior military technology and tactics of the English, and occupied on too many fronts by both the English and her own subjects, France simply could not sustain the war effort. Consequently France was forced into ratifying the Treaty of Brétigny (1360) which saw provinces such as Ponthieu and Aquitaine ceded to England in full sovereignty.

Within fifty years history was repeating itself, as the bouts of madness suffered by King Charles VI meant that the French government was all but completely controlled by the French princes of the blood, and in particular the Dukes of Orléans and Burgundy. When Duke John of Burgundy had Duke Louis of Orléans assassinated in 1407, France was ‘plunged into fully-fledged civil war’ as the Armagnacs (Louis’ supporters) battled the Burgundians. Burgundy responded by tentatively allying itself with England as Henry V, like Edward III before him, capitalised…...

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