1337 Jan 1
, Aquitaine

Edward had inherited the duchy of Aquitaine, and as Duke of Aquitaine he was a vassal to Philip VI of France. Edward initially accepted the succession of Philip, but the relationship between the two kings soured when Philip allied with Edward's enemy, King David II of Scotland. Edward in turn provided refuge to Robert III of Artois, a French fugitive. When Edward refused to obey Philip's demands for the expulsion of Robert from England, Philip confiscated the duchy of Aquitaine. This precipitated war, and soon, in 1340, Edward declared himself king of France. Edward III and his son Edward the Black Prince, led their armies on a largely successful campaign across France.

The levied archers of York on their way to join the main army for the French campaign.

War begins

1337 Apr 30
, France

Philip VI had assembled a large naval fleet off Marseilles as part of an ambitious plan for a crusade to the Holy Land. However, the plan was abandoned and the fleet, including elements of the Scottish navy, moved to the English Channel off Normandy in 1336, threatening England. To deal with this crisis, Edward proposed that the English raise two armies, one to deal with the Scots "at a suitable time", the other to proceed at once to Gascony. At the same time, ambassadors were to be sent to France with a proposed treaty for the French king.

At the end of April 1337, Philip of France was invited to meet the delegation from England but refused. The arrière-ban, literally a call to arms, was proclaimed throughout France starting on 30 April 1337. Then, in May 1337, Philip met with his Great Council in Paris. It was agreed that the Duchy of Aquitaine, effectively Gascony, should be taken back into the king's hands on the grounds that Edward III was in breach of his obligations as vassal and had sheltered the king's 'mortal enemy' Robert d'Artois. Edward responded to the confiscation of Aquitaine by challenging Philip's right to the French throne.

Battle of Cadzand | ©Osprey Publishing

Battle of Cadzand

1337 Nov 9
, Cadzand

For Edward, the war had not progressed as well as had been hoped at the start of the year as vacillation by allies in the Low Countries and Germany had prevented an invasion of France from progressing as intended and setbacks in the Gascon theatre had prevented any advance there either. Edward's fleet was unprepared for the crossing with the main body of his army and his finances were in a parlous state owing to his having been forced to pay large stipends to European forces. Thus he required some symbol of his intentions against the French and a demonstration of what his forces could achieve. To this end he ordered Sir Walter Manny, leader of his vanguard which was already stationed in Hainaut to take a small fleet and raid the island of Cadzand.

The Battle of Cadzand was an early skirmish of the Hundred Years' War fought in 1337. It consisted of a raid on the Flemish island of Cadzand, designed to provoke a reaction and battle from the local garrison and so improve morale in England and amongst King Edward III's continental allies by providing his army with an easy victory. On 9 November Sir Walter Manny, with the advance troops for Edward III's continental invasion, made an attempt to take the city of Sluys, but was driven off.

Naval Campaigns of 1338-1339

Naval Campaigns of 1338-1339

1338 Mar 24 - 1339 Oct
, Guernsey

At the beginning of February, King Philip VI appointed a new Admiral of France, one Nicholas Béhuchet, who had previously served as a treasury official and now was instructed to wage economic warfare against England. On 24 March 1338 he began his campaign, leading a large fleet of small coastal ships across the Channel from Calais and into the Solent where they landed and burnt the vitally important port-town of Portsmouth. The town was unwalled and undefended and the French were not suspected as they sailed towards the town with English flags flying. The result was a disaster for Edward, as the town's shipping and supplies were looted, the houses, stores, and docks burnt down, and those of the population unable to flee were killed or taken off as slaves. No English ships were available to contest their passage from Portsmouth and none of the militias intended to form in such an instance made an appearance.

The campaign at sea resumed in September 1338, when a large French and Italian fleet descended on the Channel Islands once again under Robert VIII Bertrand de Bricquebec, Marshal of France. The island of Sark, which had suffered a serious raid the year before, fell without a fight and Guernsey was captured after a brief campaign. The island was largely undefended, as most of the Channel Islands garrison was in Jersey to prevent another raid there, and the few that were sent to Guernsey and Sark were captured at sea. On Guernsey, the forts of Castle Cornet and Vale Castle were the only points to hold out. Neither fort lasted very long as both were undermanned and unprovisioned. The garrisons were put to death. A brief naval battle was fought between Channel Islanders in coastal and fishing vessels and Italian galleys, but despite two of the Italian ships being sunk the Islanders were defeated with heavy casualties.

The next target for Béhuchet and his lieutenant Hugh Quiéret were the supply lines between England and Flanders, and they gathered 48 large galleys at Harfleur and Dieppe. This fleet then attacked an English squadron at Walcheren on 23 September. The English vessels were unloading cargo and were surprised and overwhelmed after bitter fighting, resulting in the capture of five large and powerful English cogs, including Edward III's flagships the Cog Edward and the Christopher. The captured crews were executed and the ships added to the French fleet.

A few days later on 5 October, this force conducted its most damaging raid of all, landing several thousand French, Norman, Italian and Castilian sailors close to the major port of Southampton and assaulting it from both land and sea. The town's walls were old and crumbling and direct orders to repair it had been ignored. Most of the town's militia and citizens fled in panic into the countryside, with only the castle's garrison holding out until a force of Italians breached the defenses and the town fell. The scenes of Portsmouth were repeated as the entire town was razed to the ground, thousands of pounds worth of goods and shipping took back to France, and captives massacred or taken as slaves.

An early winter forced a pause in the Channel warfare, and 1339 saw a vastly different situation, as English towns had taken the initiative over the winter and prepared organised militias to drive off raiders more interested in plunder than set-piece battles. An English fleet had also been constituted over the winter and this was used in an effort to gain revenge on the French by attacking coastal shipping.

Morley took his fleet to the French coast, burning the towns of Ault and Le Tréport and foraging inland, ravaging several villages and provoking a panic to mirror that at Southampton the year before. He also surprised and destroyed a French fleet in Boulogne harbor. English and Flemish merchants rapidly fitted out raiding ships and soon coastal villages and shipping along the North and even the west coasts of France were under attack. The Flemish navy too was active, sending their fleet against the important port of Dieppe in September and burning it to the ground. These successes did much to rebuild morale in England and the Low Countries as well as repair England's battered trade. It did not however have anything like the financial impact of the earlier French raids as France's continental economy could survive depredations from the sea much better than the maritime English.

Siege of Cambrai

Siege of Cambrai

1339 Sep 26
, Cambrai

In 1339, Cambrai became the centre of a struggle between supporters of the Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor, and William II, Count of Hainaut, on the one hand, and those of king Philip VI of France on the other. Meanwhile, Edward III left Flanders in August 1339, where he had been on the continent since July 1338. Edward had asserted his rights to the throne of France, openly defying the authority of Philip VI. Wanting to satisfy his Bavarian allies, he decided to seize Cambrai. Edward asked the bishop of Cambrai, Guillaume d'Auxonne, a vassal of the Holy Roman Empire, to let him in, however the bishop also had instructions from Philip VI informing him to hold on for a few days until he arrived with a French army. Guillaume proclaimed his allegiance to France and prepared to resist a siege.

The defence of Cambrai was provided by the governor Étienne de la Baume, grand master of the crossbowmen of France. The French garrison had artillery comprising 10 guns, five of iron and five of other metals. This is one of the earliest instances to the use of cannon in siege warfare. Edward launched several attacks from 26 September, with Cambrai resisting every assault for five weeks. When Edward learned on the 6 October that Philip was approaching with a large army, he abandoned the siege on 8 October.

A miniature of the battle from Jean Froissart's Chronicles, 15th century

Battle of Sluys

1340 Jun 24
, Sluis

On 22 June 1340, Edward and his fleet sailed from England and the next day arrived off the Zwin estuary. The French fleet assumed a defensive formation off the port of Sluis. The English fleet deceived the French into believing they were withdrawing. When the wind turned in the late afternoon, the English attacked with the wind and sun behind them. The English fleet of 120–150 ships was led by Edward III of England and the 230-strong French fleet by the Breton knight Hugues Quiéret, Admiral of France, and Nicolas Béhuchet, Constable of France. The English were able to manoeuvre against the French and defeat them in detail, capturing most of their ships. The French lost 16,000–20,000 men. The battle gave the English fleet naval supremacy in the English Channel. However, they were unable to take strategic advantage of this, and their success barely interrupted French raids on English territories and shipping.

Miniature of the siege from The Chronicle of St. Albans by Thomas Walsingham.

Siege of Tournai

1340 Jul 23 - Sep 25
, Tournai

Edward's crushing naval victory at the Battle of Sluys allowed him to land his army and carry out his campaign in northern France. When Edward landed he would be joined by Jacob van Artevelde, Flanders' semi-dictatorial ruler who had gained control of the County in an insurrection. By 1340 the cost of the war had already drained the English treasuries and Edward arrived in Flanders penniless. Edward had attempted to pay for his campaign through a large tax on grain and wool, however, this tax raised only £15,000 of the £100,000 predicted.

Shortly after landing Edward split his army. 10,000 to 15,000 Flemings and 1,000 English longbowmen would launch a chevauchée under the command of Robert III of Artois and the remainder of the coalition forces under Edward would go on to besiege Tournai.

Edward and his forces reached Tournai on 23 July. Apart from the inhabitants, there was also a French garrison inside. The siege dragged on and Philip was drawing closer with an army, while Edward was running out of money. At the same time, Tournai was running out of food. Edward's mother-in-law, Jeanne of Valois, then visited him in his tent on 22 September and begged for peace. She had already made the same plea in front of Philip, who was her brother. A truce (known as the Truce of Espléchin) could then be made without anyone losing face and Tournai was relieved.

Battle of Saint-Omer | ©Graham Turner

Battle of Saint-Omer

1340 Jul 26
, Saint-Omer

King Edward III's summer campaign(initiated in the aftermath of the Battle of Sluys) against France launched from Flanders had begun badly. At Saint-Omer, in an unexpected turn of events, the heavily outnumbered French men-at-arms, tasked with defending the city and awaiting for reinforcements, defeated the Anglo-Flemish forces on their own. The Allies suffered heavy losses and the French captured their camp intact, taking many warhorses and carts, all the tents, huge quantities of stores and most of the Flemish standards.

War of the Breton Succession | ©Angus McBride

War of the Breton Succession

1341 Jan 1 - 1365 Apr 12
, Brittany

England dominated the English Channel for the rest of the war, preventing French invasions. At this point, Edward's funds ran out and the war probably would have ended were it not for the death of the Duke of Brittany in 1341 precipitating a succession dispute between the duke's half-brother John of Montfort and Charles of Blois, nephew of Philip VI.

In 1341, conflict over the succession to the Duchy of Brittany began the War of the Breton Succession, in which Edward backed John of Montfort (male heir) and Philip backed Charles of Blois (female heir) . Action for the next few years focused around a back-and-forth struggle in Brittany. The city of Vannes in Brittany changed hands several times, while further campaigns in Gascony met with mixed success for both sides. The English-backed Montfort finally succeeded in taking the duchy but not until 1364. The war formed an integral part of the early Hundred Years' War due to the proxy involvement of the French and English governments in the conflict.

Battle of Champtoceaux | ©Graham Turner

Battle of Champtoceaux

1341 Oct 14 - Oct 16
, Champtoceaux

The Battle of Champtoceaux, often called the Battle of l'Humeau, was the opening action of the 23-year-long War of the Breton Succession. By the end of September 1341, Charles of Blois had 5,000 French soldiers, 2,000 Genoese mercenaries, and an unknown but large number of Breton soldiers in his army. Charles laid siege to the fortified castle which guarded the Loire Valley at Champtoceaux. John of Montfort could only scrape together a handful of men from Nantes to join his forces to relief the siege. Eventually John conceded defeat at Champtoceaux and rode as fast as he could for Nantes. A series of sallies by the Montfortists followed in the coming days; the French army responded and began its assaults on outlying forts held by John's forces. John was forced to surrender by the irate city council on 2 November, and he was imprisoned in the Louvre in Paris.

Sieges of Vannes | ©Graham Turner

Sieges of Vannes

1342 Jan 1 - 1343 Jan
, Vannes

The sieges of Vannes of 1342 were a series of four sieges of the town of Vannes that occurred throughout 1342. Two rival claimants to the Duchy of Brittany, John of Montfort and Charles of Blois, competed for Vannes throughout this civil war from 1341 to 1365. The successive sieges ruined Vannes and its surrounding countryside. Vannes was eventually sold off in a truce between England and France, signed in January 1343 in Malestroit. Saved by an appeal of Pope Clement VI, Vannes remained in the hands of its own rulers, but ultimately resided under English control from September 1343 till the end of the war in 1365.

Battle of Brest

Battle of Brest

1342 Aug 18
, Brest

The ships to transport the English army had finally gathered in Portsmouth in early August and the Earl of Northampton left port with just 1,350 men in 260 small coastal transports, some conscripted from as far away as Yarmouth for this duty. Just three days after leaving Portsmouth, Northampton's force arrived off Brest. The English fleet closed on the Genoese in the entrance to the Penfeld River where they were anchored in a vertical line. The Genoese panicked, three of the fourteen galleys fled from the crowd of diminutive opponents which were struggling to board the larger Genoese ships and reached the safety of the Elorn River estuary from where they could escape into the open sea. The remaining eleven were surrounded and drove ashore battling their opponents, where the crews abandoned them to the boarders and fired them as they left, at a stroke destroying French naval supremacy in Breton waters. Believing that the ships carried a prodigious English force of trained warriors, Charles broke the siege and made for Northern Brittany with the remaining Genoese whilst a substantial part of his army made up of Castilian and Genoese mercenary infantry retreated to Bourgneuf and took their ships back to Spain.

Battle of Morlaix | ©Angus McBride

Battle of Morlaix

1342 Sep 30
, Morlaix

From Brest, Northampton moved inland and he eventually he reached Morlaix, one of Charles de Blois’ strongholds. His initial attack on the town was unsuccessful and having been repulsed with slight losses he settled into a siege. Since Charles de Blois' forces had run from the siege in Brest they had been growing in numbers possibly reaching as many as 15,000. Informed that Northampton’s force was considerably smaller than his own Charles began to advance on Morlaix intending to lift Northampton’s siege. The battle was indecisive. De Blois’ force evidently relieved Morlaix and the besieging English, now trapped in the wood, themselves became the object of a siege for several days.

Truce of Malestroit

Truce of Malestroit

1343 Jan 19
, Malestroit

In late October 1342, Edward III arrived with his main army at Brest, and retook Vannes. He then moved east to besiege Rennes. A French army marched to engage him, but a major battle was averted when two cardinals arrived from Avignon in January 1343 and enforced a general truce, the Truce of Malestroit. Even with the truce in place, the war continued in Brittany until May 1345 when Edward eventually succeeded in taking control.

The official reason for such a long truce was to allow time for a peace conference and the negotiation of a lasting peace, but both countries also suffered from war exhaustion. In England the tax burden had been heavy and in addition the wool trade had been heavily manipulated. Edward III spent the next years slowly paying off his immense debt.

In France, Philip VI had financial difficulties of his own. France had no central institution with the authority to grant taxes for the whole country. Instead the Crown had to negotiate with the various provincial assemblies. In accordance with the ancient feudal customs, most of them refused to pay taxes while there was a truce. Instead Philip VI had to resort to manipulation of the coinage and he introduced two vastly unpopular taxes, first the 'fouage', or hearth tax, and then the 'gabelle', a tax on salt.

When there was a treaty or truce in place it left many a soldier unemployed, so rather than go back to a life of poverty they would band together in free companies or routiers. The routier companies consisted of men who principally came from Gascony but also from Brittany and other parts of France, Spain, Germany, and England. They would use their military training to live off the countryside robbing, looting, killing or torturing as they went to get supplies. With the Malestroit truce in force, bands of routiers became an increasing problem. They were well organised and would sometimes act as mercenaries for one or both sides. One tactic would be to seize a town or castle of local strategic importance. From this base they would plunder the surrounding areas until nothing of value remained, and then move on to places more ripe. Often they would hold towns to ransom who would pay them to go away. The routier problem was not solved until a system of taxation in the 15th century allowed for a regular army that employed the best of the routiers.

Gascon campaign

Gascon campaign

1345 Jan 2
, Bordeaux

Derby's force embarked at Southampton at the end of May 1345. Bad weather forced his fleet of 151 ships to shelter in Falmouth for several weeks en route, finally departing on 23 July. The Gascons, primed by Stafford to expect Derby's arrival in late May and sensing the French weakness, took the field without him. The Gascons captured the large, weakly garrisoned castles of Montravel and Monbreton on the Dordogne in early June; both were taken by surprise and their seizure broke the tenuous Truce of Malestroit. Stafford carried out a short march north to besiege Blaye. He left the Gascons to prosecute this and proceeded to Langon, south of Bordeaux, to set up a second siege. The French issued an urgent call to arms.

Meanwhile, small independent parties of Gascons raided across the region. Local French groups joined them, and several minor nobles threw in their lot with the Anglo-Gascons. They had some successes, but their main effect was to tie down most of the French garrisons in the region and to cause them to call for reinforcements – to no avail. The few French troops not garrisoning fortifications immobilised themselves with sieges of English-controlled fortifications: Casseneuil in the Agenais; Monchamp near Condom; and Montcuq, a strong but strategically insignificant castle south of Bergerac. Large areas were left effectively undefended.

On 9 August Derby arrived in Bordeaux with 500 men-at-arms, 1,500 English and Welsh archers, 500 of them mounted on ponies to increase their mobility,and ancillary and support troops, such as a team of 24 miners. The majority were veterans of earlier campaigns. After two weeks of further recruiting and consolidation of his forces Derby decided on a change of strategy. Rather than continue a war of sieges he determined to strike directly at the French before they could concentrate their forces. The French in the region were under the command of Bertrand de l'Isle-Jourdain, who was assembling his forces at the communications centre and strategically important town of Bergerac. This was 60 miles (97 kilometres) east of Bordeaux and controlled an important bridge over the Dordogne River.

Battle of Bergerac | ©Graham Turner

Battle of Bergerac

1345 Aug 20
, Bergerac

Henry of Grosmont, Earl of Derby arrived in Gascony in August, and breaking with the previous policy of cautious advance, struck directly at the largest French concentration, at Bergerac. He surprised and defeated the French forces, under Bertrand I of L'Isle-Jourdain and Henri de Montigny. The French suffered heavy casualties and the loss of the town, a significant strategic setback. The battle and subsequent capture of Bergerac were major victories; the plunder from the defeated French army and from sacking the town was immense. Strategically, the Anglo-Gascon army had secured an important base for further operations. Politically, local lords who had been undecided in their allegiance had been shown that the English were again a force to be reckoned with in Gascony.

Battle of Auberoche

Battle of Auberoche

1345 Oct 21
, Dordogne

Derby planned a three-pronged assault. The attack was launched as the French were having their evening meal, and complete surprise was achieved. While the French were confused and distracted by this attack from the west, Derby made a cavalry charge with his 400 men-at-arms from the south. The French defence collapsed and they routed. The battle resulted in a heavy defeat for the French, who suffered very high casualties, with their leaders killed or captured. The Duke of Normandy lost heart on hearing of the defeat. Despite outnumbering the Anglo-Gascon force eight to one he retreated to Angoulême and disbanded his army. The French also abandoned all of their ongoing sieges of other Anglo-Gascon garrisons. Derby was left almost completely unopposed for six months, during which he seized more towns. Local morale, and more importantly prestige in the border region, had decidedly swung England's way following this conflict, providing an influx of taxes and recruits for the English armies. Local lords of note declared for the English, bringing significant retinues with them. With this success, the English had established a regional dominance which would last over thirty years.
Siege of Aiguillon

Siege of Aiguillon

1346 Apr 1 - Aug 20
, Aiguillon

In 1345 Henry, Earl of Lancaster, was sent to Gascony in south west France with 2,000 men and large financial resources. In 1346 the French focused their effort on the south west and, early in the campaigning season, an army of 15,000–20,000 men marched down the valley of the Garonne. Aiguillon commands both the Rivers Garonne and Lot, and it was not possible to sustain an offensive further into Gascony unless the town was taken. Duke John, the son and heir apparent of Philip VI, laid siege to the town. The garrison, some 900 men, sortied repeatedly to interrupt the French operations, while Lancaster concentrated the main Anglo-Gascon force at La Réole, some 30 miles (48 km) away, as a threat. Duke John was never able to fully blockade the town, and found that his own supply lines were seriously harassed. On one occasion Lancaster used his main force to escort a large supply train into the town.

In July the main English army landed in northern France and moved towards Paris. Philip VI repeatedly ordered his son, Duke John, to break off the siege and bring his army north. Duke John, considering it a matter of honour, refused. By August, the French supply system had broken down, there was a dysentery epidemic in their camp, desertion was rife and Philip VI's orders were becoming imperious. On 20 August the French abandoned the siege and their camp and marched away. Six days later the main French army was decisively beaten in the Battle of Crécy with very heavy losses. Two weeks after this defeat, Duke John's army joined the French survivors.

Battle of St Pol de Léon | ©Graham Turner

Battle of St Pol de Léon

1346 Jun 9
, Saint-Pol-de-Léon

The commander of the Anglo-Breton faction was Sir Thomas Dagworth, a veteran professional soldier who had served with his overlord King Edward III for many years and was trusted to conduct the Breton war in an effective manner whilst Edward was raising funds in England and planning the invasion of Normandy for the following Year. Charles of Blois ambushed Dagworth and his 180-man bodyguard at the isolated village of Saint-Pol-de-Léon. Dagworth formed up his men and led them in a rapid withdrawal towards a nearby hill, where they dug trenches and prepared positions. Blois dismounted all of his soldiers and abandoned his horse himself and ordered his superior numbers to make a three-pronged assault on the Anglo-Breton lines. The assault and the others that followed it during the afternoon were all repulsed by accurate archery fire, which decimated the attackers' ranks, and some desperate last-ditch hand-to-hand fighting. The final assault came at last light with Charles himself in the vanguard, but even this failed to achieve victory, and the Franco-Breton forces were forced to abandon their attack and return to Eastern Brittany, leaving behind dozens of dead, wounded and captured soldiers on the hillside of the battlefield. Charles of Blois, who had a reputation as a fierce and intelligent commander, had again been defeated by an English commander, and one of common stock at that. Indeed, Charles failed to win a single one of the five significant battles he fought against the English between 1342 and 1364, although he proved more efficient at siegework and lengthy campaigns. The Breton nobility had now been given pause for thought in choosing their side in the ongoing war.

Edward III invades Normandy.

Edward III invades Normandy

1346 Jul 12
, Cotentin Peninsula

In March 1346 the French, numbering between 15,000 and 20,000 and including a large siege train and five cannon, enormously superior to any force the Anglo-Gascons could field, marched on Aiguillon and besieged it on 1 April. On 2 April the arrière-ban, the formal call to arms for all able-bodied males, was announced for the south of France. French financial, logistical and manpower efforts were focused on this offensive. Derby, now known as Lancaster after the death of his father,e 2 sent an urgent appeal for help to Edward. Edward was not only morally obliged to succour his vassal, but also contractually required to.

The campaign began on 11 July 1346 when Edward's fleet of more than 700 vessels, the largest ever assembled by the English to that date, departed the south of England and landed the next day at St. Vaast la Hogue, 20 miles (32 kilometres) from Cherbourg. The English army was estimated to be between 12,000 and 15,000 strong and consisted of English and Welsh soldiers as well as some German and Breton mercenaries and allies. It included several Norman barons who were unhappy with the rule of Philip VI. The English achieved complete strategic surprise and marched south.

Medieval battle.

Battle of Caen

1346 Jul 26
, Caen

After landing in Normandy, Edward's aim was to conduct a chevauchée, a large-scale raid, across French territory to reduce his opponent's morale and wealth. His soldiers razed every town in their path and looted whatever they could from the populace. The towns of Carentan, Saint-Lô and Torteval were destroyed as the army passed, along with many smaller places. The English fleet paralleled the army's route, devastating the country for up to 5 miles (8 kilometres) inland and taking vast amounts of loot; many ships deserted, their crews having filled their holds. They also captured or burnt more than a hundred ships; 61 of these had been converted into military vessels. Caen, the cultural, political, religious and financial centre of north west Normandy, was Edward's initial target; he hoped to recoup his expenditure on the expedition and put pressure on the French government by taking this important city and destroying it.

The English were virtually unopposed and devastated much of Normandy before assaulting Caen. Part of the English army, which consisted of 12,000–15,000, commanded by the Earls of Warwick and Northampton, prematurely attacked Caen. It was garrisoned by 1,000–1,500 soldiers, who were supplemented by an unknown, large number of armed townsmen, and commanded by Raoul, the Count of Eu, the Grand Constable of France. The town was captured in the first assault. More than 5,000 of the ordinary soldiers and townspeople were killed, and a few nobles were taken prisoner. The town was sacked for five days. The English army moved off on 1 August, southwards to the River Seine and then towards Paris.

Edward III Crossing the Somme by Benjamin West,

Battle of Blanchetaque

1346 Aug 24
, Abbeville

On 29 July, Philip proclaimed the arrière-ban for northern France, ordering every able-bodied male to assemble at Rouen on the 31st. On 16 August, Edward burnt down Poissy and marched north. The French had carried out a scorched earth policy, carrying away all stores of food and so forcing the English to spread out over a wide area to forage, which greatly slowed them. The English were now trapped in an area which had been stripped of food. The French moved out of Amiens and advanced westwards, towards the English. They were now willing to give battle, knowing that they would have the advantage of being able to stand on the defensive while the English were forced to try and fight their way past them.

Edward was determined to break the French blockade of the Somme and probed at several points, vainly attacking Hangest and Pont-Remy before moving west along the river. English supplies were running out and the army was ragged, starving and beginning to suffer from a drop in morale. During the night Edward was made aware, either by an Englishman living locally or by a French captive, that just 4 miles (6 km) away, near the village of Saigneville, was a ford named Blanchetaque. Edward immediately broke camp and moved his whole force toward the ford. Once the ebbing tide had lowered the water level, a force of English longbowmen marched partway across the ford and, standing in the water, engaged a force of mercenary crossbowmen, whose shooting they were able to suppress. A French cavalry force attempted to push back the longbowmen but were in turn attacked by English men-at-arms. After a mêlée in the river, the French were pushed back, more English troops were fed into the fight, and the French broke and fled. French casualties were reported as over half of their force, while English losses were light.

Battle of Crecy | ©Graham Turner

Battle of Crécy

1346 Aug 26
, Crécy-en-Ponthieu

Once the French withdrew, Edward marched the 9 miles (14 km) to Crécy-en-Ponthieu where he prepared a defensive position. The French had been so confident that the English could not breach the Somme line that they had not denuded the area, and the countryside was rich in food and loot. So the English were able to resupply, Noyelles-sur-Mer and Le Crotoy in particular yielding large stores of food, which were looted and the towns then burnt.

During a brief archery duel a large force of French mercenary crossbowmen was routed by Welsh and English longbowmen. The French then launched a series of cavalry charges by their mounted knights. By the time the French charges reached the English men-at-arms, who had dismounted for the battle, they had lost much of their impetus. The ensuing hand-to-hand combat was described as "murderous, without pity, cruel, and very horrible." The French charges continued late into the night, all with the same result: fierce fighting followed by a French repulse.

Siege of Calais | ©Graham Turner

Capture of Calais

1346 Sep 4 - 1347 Aug 3
, Calais

After the Battle of Crecy, the English rested for two days and buried the dead. The English, requiring supplies and reinforcements, marched north. They continued to devastate the land, and razed several towns, including Wissant, the normal port of disembarkation for English shipping to north-east France. Outside the burning town Edward held a council, which decided to capture Calais. The city was an ideal entrepôt from an English point of view, and close to the border of Flanders and Edward's Flemish allies. The English arrived outside the town on 4 September and besieged it.

Calais was strongly fortified: it boasted a double moat, substantial city walls, and its citadel in the north-west corner had its own moat and additional fortifications. It was surrounded by extensive marshes, some of them tidal, making it difficult to find stable platforms for trebuchets and other artillery, or to mine the walls. It was adequately garrisoned and provisioned, and was under the command of the experienced Jean de Vienne. It could be readily reinforced and supplied by sea. The day after the siege commenced, English ships arrived offshore and resupplied, re-equipped and reinforced the English army. The English settled down for a lengthy stay, establishing a thriving camp to the west, Nouville, or "New Town", with two market days each week. A major victualling operation drew on sources throughout England and Wales to supply the besiegers, as well as overland from nearby Flanders. A total of 853 ships, crewed by 24,000 sailors, were involved over the course of the siege; an unprecedented effort. Wearied by nine years of war, Parliament grudgingly agreed to fund the siege. Edward declared it a matter of honour and avowed his intent to remain until the town fell. Two cardinals acting as emissaries from Pope Clement VI, who had been unsuccessfully attempting to negotiate a halt to hostilities since July 1346, continued to travel between the armies, but neither king would speak to them.

On 17 July Philip led the French army north. Alerted to this, Edward called the Flemings to Calais. On 27 July the French came within view of the town, 6 miles (10 km) away. Their army was between 15,000 and 20,000 strong; a third of the size of the English and their allies, who had prepared earthworks and palisades across every approach. The English position was clearly unassailable. In an attempt to save face, Philip now admitted the Pope's emissaries to an audience. They in turn arranged talks, but after four days of wrangling these came to nothing. On 1 August the garrison of Calais, having observed the French army seemingly within reach for a week, signalled that they were on the verge of surrender. That night the French army withdrew. On 3 August 1347 Calais surrendered. The entire French population was expelled. A vast amount of booty was found within the town. Edward repopulated the town with English settlers.

Calais provided the English with an important strategic lodgement for the remainder of the Hundred Years' War and beyond. The port was not recaptured by the French until 1558.

Lancaster's chevauchée of 1346 | ©Graham Turner

Lancaster's chevauchée of 1346

1346 Sep 12 - Oct 31
, Poitiers

After the Battle of Crecy, the French defences in the southwest were left both weak and disorganised. Lancaster took advantage by launching offensives into Quercy and the Bazadais and himself leading a third force on a large-scale mounted raid (a chevauchée) between 12 September and 31 October 1346. All three offensives were successful, with Lancaster's chevauchée, of approximately 2,000 English and Gascon soldiers, meeting no effective resistance from the French, penetrating 160 miles (260 kilometres) north and storming the rich city of Poitiers. His force then burnt and looted large areas of Saintonge, Aunis and Poitou, capturing numerous towns, castles and smaller fortified places as they went. The offensives completely disrupted the French defences and shifted the focus of the fighting from the heart of Gascony to 50 miles (80 kilometres) or more beyond its borders. He returned to England in early 1347.

Battle of Neville's Cross | ©Graham Turner

Scotland invades northern England

1346 Oct 17
, Neville's Cross

The Auld Alliance between France and Scotland had been renewed in 1326 and was intended to deter England from attacking either country by the threat that in this case the other would invade English territory. King Philip VI of France called on the Scots to fulfil their obligation under the terms of the Auld Alliance and invade England. David II obliged. Once the Scottish army of 12,000 led by King David II invaded, an English army of approximately 6,000–7,000 men led by Ralph Neville, Lord Neville was quickly mobilised at Richmond in north Yorkshire under the supervision of William de la Zouche, the Archbishop of York, who was Lord Warden of the Marches. The Scottish army was defeated with heavy loss.

During the battle David II was twice shot in the face with arrows. Surgeons attempted to remove the arrows but the tip of one remained lodged in his face, rendering him prone to headaches for decades. Despite having fled without fighting, Robert Stewart was appointed Lord Guardian to act on David II's behalf in his absence. The Black Rood of Scotland, venerated as a piece of the True Cross, and previously belonging to the former queen of Scotland, Saint Margaret of Scotland, was taken from David II and donated to the shrine of Saint Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral.

Another version of Charles de Blois being taken prisoner

Battle of La Roche-Derrien

1347 Jun 20
, La Roche-Derrien

Approximately 4,000–5,000 French, Breton and Genoese mercenaries (the largest field army ever assembled by Charles of Blois) laid siege to the town of La Roche-Derrien in the hope of luring Sir Thomas Dagworth, the commander of the only standing English field army in Brittany at the time, into an open pitched battle. When Dagworth's relief army, less than one-fourth the size of the French force, arrived at La Roche-Derrien they attacked the eastern (main) encampment and fell into the trap laid by Charles. Dagworth's main force was assailed with crossbow bolts from front and rear and after a short time Dagworth himself was forced to surrender. Charles, thinking he had won the battle and that Brittany was effectively his, lowered his guard. However a sortie from the town, composed mainly of townsfolk armed with axes and farming implements, came from behind Charles's lines. The archers and men-at-arms who remained from the initial assault now rallied with the town's garrison to cut down Charles' forces. Charles was forced to surrender and was taken for ransom.

A medieval town under siege

Truce of Calais

1347 Sep 28
, Calais

The Truce of Calais was a truce agreed by King Edward III of England and King Philip VI of France on 28 September 1347, which was mediated by emissaries of Pope Clement VI. Both countries were financially and militarily exhausted and two cardinals acting for Pope Clement were able to broker a truce in a series of negotiations outside Calais. This was signed on 28 September to run until 7 July 1348.

Edward suggested extending the truce in May 1348, but Philip was keen to campaign. However, the effects of the Black Death, which spread to both kingdoms in 1348, caused the truce to be renewed in 1348, 1349 and 1350. While the truce was in effect neither country campaigned with a full field army, but it did not stop repeated naval clashes nor fighting in Gascony and Brittany. Philip died on 22 August 1350 and it was unclear whether the truce then lapsed, as it had been signed on his personal authority. His son and successor, John II, took to the field with a large army in south-west France. Once this campaign was successfully completed John authorised the renewal of the truce for one year to 10 September 1352. English adventurers seized the strategically located town of Guînes in January 1352, causing full-scale fighting to break out again, which went badly for the French.

Black Death

Black Death

1348 Jan 1 - 1350
, France

The Black Death (also known as the Pestilence, the Great Mortality or the Plague) was a bubonic plague pandemic occurring in Afro-Eurasia from 1346 to 1353. It is the most fatal pandemic recorded in human history, causing the death of 75–200 million people in Eurasia and North Africa, peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351.

Plague was reportedly first introduced to Europe via Genoese traders from their port city of Kaffa in the Crimea in 1347. As the disease took hold, Genoese traders fled across the Black Sea to Constantinople, where the disease first arrived in Europe in summer 1347. Carried by twelve Genoese galleys, plague arrived by ship in Sicily in October 1347. From Italy, the disease spread northwest across Europe, striking France, Spain (the epidemic began to wreak havoc first on the Crown of Aragon in the spring of 1348), Portugal and England by June 1348, then spread east and north through Germany, Scotland and Scandinavia from 1348 to 1350. In the next few years one-third of the French population would die, including Queen Joan.

Battle of Winchelsea

Battle of Winchelsea

1350 Aug 29
, Winchelsea. UK

In November 1349, Charles de la Cerda, a soldier of fortune, son of Luis de la Cerda, and member of a branch of the Castilian royal family, sailed from northern Spain, commissioned by the French, with an unknown number of ships. He intercepted and captured several English ships laden with wine from Bordeaux and murdered their crews. Later in the year de la Cerda led a Castilian fleet of 47 ships loaded with Spanish wool from Corunna to Sluys, in Flanders, where it wintered. On the way he captured several more English ships, again murdering the crews – by throwing them overboard.

On 10 August 1350, while Edward was at Rotherhithe, he announced his intention of confronting the Castilians. The English fleet was to rendezvous at Sandwich, Kent. Edward had good sources of intelligence in Flanders and knew the composition of De la Cerda's fleet and when it sailed. He determined to intercept it and sailed from Sandwich on 28 August with 50 ships, all smaller than the majority of the Castilian vessels and some much smaller. Edward and many of the highest nobility of England, including two of Edward's sons, sailed with the fleet, which was well provided with men-at-arms and archers.

The Battle of Winchelsea was a naval victory for an English fleet of 50 ships, commanded by King Edward III, over a Castilian fleet of 47 larger vessels, commanded by Charles de la Cerda. Between 14 and 26 Castilian ships were captured, and several were sunk. Only two English vessels are known to have been sunk, but there was a significant loss of life. Charles de la Cerda survived the battle and shortly after was made Constable of France. There was no pursuit of the surviving Castilian ships, which fled to French ports. Joined by French ships, they continued to harass English shipping for the rest of the autumn before withdrawing to Sluys again to winter. The following spring, the Channel was still effectively closed to English shipping unless strongly escorted. Trade with Gascony was less affected, but ships were forced to use ports in western England, often impractically far from their cargo's intended English markets. Others have suggested that the battle was just one of a number of significant and hard-fought naval encounters of the period, only recorded because of the prominent figures involved.

Penguilly l'Haridon: Le Combat des Trente

Combat of the Thirty

1351 Mar 26
, Guillac

The Combat of the Thirty was an episode in the Breton War of Succession fought to determine who would rule the Duchy of Brittany. It was an arranged fight between selected combatants from both sides of the conflict, fought at a site midway between the Breton castles of Josselin and Ploërmel among 30 champions, knights, and squires on each side. The challenge was issued by Jean de Beaumanoir, a captain of Charles of Blois supported by King Philip VI of France, to Robert Bemborough, a captain of Jean de Montfort supported by Edward III of England. After a hard-fought battle, the Franco-Breton Blois faction emerged victorious. The combat was later celebrated by medieval chroniclers and balladeers as a noble display of the ideals of chivalry. In the words of Jean Froissart, the warriors "held themselves as valiantly on both sides as if they had been all Rolands and Olivers".
Battle of Ardres

Battle of Ardres

1351 Jun 6
, Ardres

The new English commander of Calais John de Beauchamp had been leading a raid around the region surrounding Saint-Omer with a force of some 300 men-at-arms and 300 mounted archers, when he was discovered by a French force led by Édouard I de Beaujeu, Lord of Beaujeu, the French commander on the march of Calais, near Ardres. The French moved to surround the English, trapping them upon a bend on the river. Beaujeu made all of his men dismount before they attacked, after lessons were learned from the 1349 Battle of Lunalonge under similar conditions when they kept too many of their men mounted, dividing their forces too quickly, which caused the French to lose the battle. In the fighting Édouard I de Beaujeu was killed but with the help of reinforcements from the garrison of Saint-Omer the French defeated the English. John Beauchamp was one of many English captured.
Siege of Guines

Siege of Guines

1352 May 1 - Jul
, Guînes

The siege of Guînes took place in 1352 when a French army under Geoffrey de Charny unsuccessfully attempted to recapture the French castle at Guînes which had been seized by the English. The strongly fortified castle had been taken by the English during a period of nominal truce and the English king, Edward III, decided to keep it. Charny, leading 4,500 men, retook the town but was unable to retake or blockade the castle. After two months of fierce fighting a large English night attack on the French camp inflicted a heavy defeat and the French withdrew.

Battle of Mauron

Battle of Mauron

1352 Aug 14
, Mauron

In 1352 a French army, commanded by Marshal Guy II de Nesle, invaded Brittany, and after recapturing Rennes and territories to the south was advancing northwest, towards the town of Brest. Under orders from the French King Jean II of France to retake the castle of Ploërmel from the Anglo-Breton garrison who occupied it, de Nesle made his way towards Ploërmel. Faced with this threat, the English captain Walter Bentley and the Breton captain Tanguy du Chastel assembled troops to ride out and meet the Franco-Breton forces on 14 August 1352. The Anglo-Bretons were victorious. The battle was very violent and severe losses occurred on both sides: 800 of the Franco-Breton side and 600 on the Anglo-Breton. It was especially serious for the Breton aristocracy supporting the party of Charles de Blois. Guy II de Nesle and the hero of the Battle of the Thirty, Alain de Tinténiac, were slain. More than eighty knights of the recently formed chivalric Order of the Star also lost their lives, possibly partly because of the oath of the order never to retreat in battle.

Battle of Montmuran

Battle of Montmuran

1354 Apr 10
, Les Iffs

Following the defeat of Mauron during the Hundred Years' War, the Bretons, led by Bertrand Du Guesclin, took their revenge. In 1354, Calveley was captain of the English-held fortress of Bécherel. He planned a raid on the castle of Montmuran on 10 April, to capture Arnoul d'Audrehem, Marshal of France, who was a guest of the lady of Tinteniac. Bertrand du Guesclin, in one of the early highlights of his career, anticipated the attack, posting archers as sentries. When the sentries raised the alarm at Calveley's approach, du Guesclin and d'Audrehem hurried to intercept. In the ensuing fight, Calveley was unhorsed by a knight named Enguerrand d'Hesdin, captured, and later ransomed.
A town being sacked

Black Prince's chevauchée of 1355

1355 Oct 5 - Dec 2
, Bordeaux

A treaty to end the war was negotiated at Guînes and signed on 6 April 1354. However, the composition of the inner council of the French king, John II (r. 1350–1364), changed and sentiment turned against its terms. John decided not to ratify it, and it was clear that from the summer of 1355 that both sides would be committed to full-scale war. In April 1355 Edward III and his council, with the treasury in an unusually favourable financial position, decided to launch offensives that year in both northern France and Gascony. John attempted to strongly garrison his northern towns and fortifications against the expected descent by Edward III, at the same time as assembling a field army; he was unable to, largely because of a lack of money.

The Black Prince's chevauchée was a large-scale mounted raid carried out by an Anglo-Gascon force under the command of Edward, the Black Prince, between 5 October and 2 December, 1355. John, Count of Armagnac, who commanded the local French forces, avoided battle, and there was little fighting during the campaign. The Anglo-Gascon force of 4,000–6,000 men marched from Bordeaux in English-held Gascony 300 miles (480 km) to Narbonne and back to Gascony, devastating a wide swathe of French territory and sacking many French towns on the way. While no territory was captured, enormous economic damage was done to France; the modern historian Clifford Rogers concluded that "the importance of the economic attrition aspect of the chevauchée can hardly be exaggerated." The English component resumed the offensive after Christmas to great effect, and more than 50 French-held towns or fortifications were captured during the following four months.

Black Prince's chevauchée of 1356 | ©Graham Turner

Black Prince's chevauchée of 1356

1356 Aug 4 - Oct 2
, Bergerac

In 1356 the Black Prince intended to carry out a similar chevauchée, this time as part of a larger strategic operation intended to strike the French from several directions simultaneously. On 4 August 6,000 Anglo-Gascon soldiers headed north from Bergerac towards Bourges, devastating a wide swathe of French territory and sacking many French towns on the way. It was hoped to join up with two English forces in the vicinity of the River Loire, but by early September the Anglo-Gascons were facing the much larger French royal army on their own. The Black Prince withdrew towards Gascony; he was prepared to give battle, but only if he could fight on the tactical defensive on ground of his own choosing. John was determined to fight, preferably by cutting the Anglo-Gascons off from supply and forcing them to attack him in his prepared position. In the event the French succeeded in cutting off the Prince's army, but then decided to attack it in its prepared defensive position anyway, partly from fear it might slip away, but mostly as a question of honour. This was the Battle of Poitiers.

Battle of Poitiers | ©Eugène Delacroix

Battle of Poitiers

1356 Sep 19
, Poitiers

In early 1356, the Duke of Lancaster led an army through Normandy, while Edward led his army on a great chevauchée from Bordeaux on 8 August 1356. Edward's forces met little resistance, sacking numerous settlements, until they reached the Loire river at Tours. They were unable to take the castle or burn the town due to a heavy rainstorm. This delay allowed King John to attempt to pin down and destroy Edward's army. The two armies faced off, both ready for battle, near Poitiers. The French were heavily defeated; an English counter-attack captured King John, along with his youngest son, and much of the French nobility who were present. The demise of the French nobility at the battle, only ten years from the catastrophe at Crécy, threw the kingdom into chaos. The realm was left in the hands of the Dauphin Charles, who faced popular rebellion across the kingdom in the wake of the defeat.

Battle of Mello | ©Anonymous

Jacquerie Peasant Revolt

1358 Jun 10
, Mello

After the capture of the French king by the English during the Battle of Poitiers in September 1356, power in France devolved fruitlessly among the Estates-General and John's son, the Dauphin, later Charles V. The Estates-General was too divided to provide effective government and their alliance with King Charles II of Navarre, another claimant to the French throne, provoked disunity amongst the nobles. Consequently, the prestige of the French nobility sank to a new low. The century had begun poorly for the nobles at Courtrai (the "Battle of the Golden Spurs"), where they fled the field and left their infantry to be hacked to pieces; they were also accused of having given up their king at the Battle of Poitiers. The passage of a law that required the peasants to defend the châteaux that were emblems of their oppression was the immediate cause of the spontaneous uprising. This rebellion became known as "the Jacquerie" because the nobles derided peasants as "Jacques" or "Jacques Bonhomme" for their padded surplice, called a "jacque".

The peasant bands attacked surrounding noble houses, many of which were only occupied by women and children, the men being with the armies fighting the English. The occupants were frequently massacred, the houses looted and burnt in an orgy of violence which shocked France and ravaged this once prosperous region.

The nobles’ response was furious. Aristocracy from across France united together and formed an army in Normandy which was joined by English and foreign mercenaries, sensing payment and a chance to loot the defeated peasants. The Parisian forces fought hardest before breaking, but within minutes the entire army was nothing but a panicked rabble blocking every street away from the castle. Refugees from the Jacquerie army and Meaux spread out across the countryside where they were exterminated along with thousands of other peasants, many innocent of any involvement in the rebellion, by the vengeful nobles and their mercenary allies.

Siege of Rheims

Siege of Rheims

1359 Jul 1
, Rheims

Capitalising on the discontent in France, Edward assembled his army at Calais in the late summer of 1359. His first objective was to take the city of Rheims. However, the citizens of Reims built and reinforced the city's defences before Edward and his army arrived. Edward besieged Rheims for five weeks but the new fortifications held out. He lifted the siege and moved his army on to Paris in the Spring of 1360.
Edward III vows to end the wars.

Black Monday

1360 Apr 13
, Chartres

On Easter Monday 13 April Edward's army arrived at the gates of Chartres. The French defenders again refused battle, instead sheltering behind their fortifications, and a siege ensued. That night, the English army made camp outside Chartres in an open plain. A sudden storm materialized and lightning struck, killing several people. The temperature fell dramatically and huge hailstones along with freezing rain, began pelting the soldiers, scattering the horses. In a half-hour, the incitement and intense cold killed nearly 1,000 Englishmen and up to 6,000 horses. Among the injured English leaders was Sir Guy de Beauchamp II, the eldest son of Thomas de Beauchamp, the 11th Earl of Warwick; he would die of his injuries two weeks after. Edward was convinced the phenomenon was a sign from God against his endeavors. During the climax of the storm he is said to have dismounted from his horse and kneeled in the direction of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres. He recited a vow of peace and was convinced to negotiate with the French.

Treaty of Brétigny | ©Angus McBride

Treaty of Brétigny

1360 May 8
, Brétigny

King John II of France, taken as a prisoner of war at the Battle of Poitiers (19 September 1356), worked with King Edward III of England to write out the Treaty of London. The treaty was condemned by the French Estates-General, who advised the Dauphin Charles to reject it.

In response, Edward, who wished to yield few of the advantages claimed in the abortive Treaty of London the year before, besieged Rheims. The siege lasted until January and with supplies running low, Edward withdrew to Burgundy. After the English army attempted a futile siege of Paris, Edward marched to Chartres, and discussion of terms began in early April.

The Treaty of Brétigny was a treaty, drafted on 8 May 1360 and ratified on 24 October 1360, between Kings Edward III of England and John II of France. In retrospect, it is seen as having marked the end of the first phase of the Hundred Years' War (1337–1453) as well as the height of English power on the European continent. The terms were:

  • Edward III obtained, besides Guyenne and Gascony, Poitou, Saintonge and Aunis, Agenais, Périgord, Limousin, Quercy, Bigorre, the countship of Gauré, Angoumois, Rouergue, Montreuil-sur-Mer, Ponthieu, Calais, Sangatte, Ham and the countship of Guînes. The king of England was to hold these free and clear, without doing homage for them.
  • Furthermore, the treaty established that title to 'all the islands that the King of England now holds' would no longer be under the suzerainty of the King of France.
  • King Edward gave up the duchy of Touraine, the countships of Anjou and Maine, the suzerainty of Brittany and of Flanders.
  • The treaty did not lead to lasting peace, but procured nine years' respite from the Hundred Years' War.
  • He also renounced all claims to the French throne.
  • John II had to pay three million écus for his ransom, and would be released after he paid one million.
Caroline phase | ©Daniel Cabrera Peña

Caroline phase

1364 Jan 1
, Brittany

In the Treaty of Brétigny, Edward III renounced his claim to the French throne in exchange for the duchy of Aquitaine in full sovereignty. Between the nine years of formal peace between the two kingdoms, the English and French clashed in Brittany and Castile. In 1364, John II died in London, while still in honourable captivity. Charles V succeeded him as king of France.

In the War of the Breton Succession, the English backed the heir male, the House of Montfort (a cadet of the House of Dreux, itself a cadet of the Capetian dynasty) while the French backed the heir general, the House of Blois.

With peace in France, the mercenaries and soldiers lately employed in the war became unemployed, and turned to plundering. Charles V also had a score to settle with Pedro the Cruel, King of Castile, who married his sister-in-law, Blanche of Bourbon, and had her poisoned. Charles V ordered Du Guesclin to lead these bands to Castile to depose Pedro the Cruel. The Castilian Civil War ensued. Having been opposed by the French, Pedro appealed to the Black Prince for aid, promising rewards.

The Black Prince's intervention in the Castilian Civil War, and the failure of Pedro to reward his services, depleted the prince's treasury. He resolved to recover his losses by raising the taxes in Aquitaine. The Gascons, unaccustomed to such taxes, complained. Charles V summoned the Black Prince to answer the complaints of his vassals but Edward refused. The Caroline phase of the Hundred Years' War began.

Battle of Cocherel

Battle of Cocherel

1364 May 16
, Houlbec-Cocherel

The French crown had been at odds with Navarre (near southern Gascony) since 1354. In 1363 the Navarrese used the captivity of John II of France in London and the political weakness of the Dauphin to try to seize power. As England was supposed to be at peace with France the English military forces used to support Navarre were drawn from the mercenary routier companies, not the king of England's army, thus avoiding a breach of the peace treaty.

In the past when the opposing army had advanced then they would be cut to pieces by the archers, however in this battle, du Guesclin managed to break the defensive formation by attacking and then pretending to retreat, which tempted Sir John Jouel and his battalion from their hill in pursuit. Captal de Buch and his company followed. A flank attack by du Guesclin's reserve then won the day.

War of the Breton Succession ends

War of the Breton Succession ends

1364 Sep 29
, Auray

At the beginning of 1364, after the failure of the negotiations of Évran, Montfort, with the assistance of John Chandos, came to attack Auray, which had been in the hands of Franco-Bretons since 1342. He entered the town of Auray and besieged the castle, which was blockaded by sea by the ships of Nicolas Bouchart coming from Le Croisic.

The battle began with a short skirmish between the French arbalesters and the English archers. Each Anglo-Breton corps was attacked head on, one after the other, but the reserves restored the situation. The right wing of the Franco-Breton position was then counterattacked and driven back and since it was not being supported by its own reserves, it was folded up towards the centre. The left wing then folded in turn, the Count of Auxerre was captured, and the troops of Charles of Blois broke and fled. Charles, having been struck down by a lance, was finished off by an English soldier, obeying orders to show no quarter. Du Guesclin, having broken all his weapons, was obliged to surrender to the English commander Chandos. Du Guesclin was taken into custody and ransomed by Charles V for 100,000 francs.

This victory put an end to the war of succession. One Year later, in 1365, under the first Treaty of Guérande, the king of France recognized John IV, the son of John of Montfort as duke of Brittany.

Castilian Civil War

Castilian Civil War

1366 Jan 1 - 1369
, Madrid

The Castilian Civil War was a war of succession over the Crown of Castile that lasted from 1351 to 1369. The conflict started after the death of king Alfonso XI of Castile in March 1350. It became part of the larger conflict then raging between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of France: the Hundred Years' War. It was fought primarily in Castile and its coastal waters between the local and allied forces of the reigning king, Peter, and his illegitimate brother Henry of Trastámara over the right to the crown.

In 1366 the civil war of succession in Castile opened a new chapter. The forces of the ruler Peter of Castile were pitched against those of his half-brother Henry of Trastámara. The English crown supported Peter; the French supported Henry. French forces were led by Bertrand du Guesclin, a Breton, who rose from relatively humble beginnings to prominence as one of France's war leaders. Charles V provided a force of 12,000, with du Guesclin at their head, to support Trastámara in his invasion of Castile. Peter appealed to England and Aquitaine's Black Prince for help, but none was forthcoming, forcing Peter into exile in Aquitaine. The Black Prince had previously agreed to support Peter's claims but concerns over the terms of the treaty of Brétigny led him to assist Peter as a representative of Aquitaine, rather than England. He then led an Anglo-Gascon army into Castile.

Battle of Nájera

Battle of Nájera

1367 Apr 3
, Nájera

Castilian naval power, far superior to that of France or England, encouraged the two polities to take sides in the civil war, to gain control over the Castilian fleet. King Peter of Castile was supported by England, Aquitaine, Majorca, Navarra and the best European mercenaries hired by the Black Prince. His rival, Count Henry, was aided by a majority of the nobility and the Christian military organizations in Castile. While neither the Kingdom of France nor the Crown of Aragon gave him official assistance, he had on his side many Aragonese Soldiers and the French free companies loyal to his lieutenant the Breton knight and French commander Bertrand du Guesclin. Although the battle ended with a resounding defeat for Henry, it had disastrous consequences for King Peter, the Prince of Wales and England.

After the Battle of Najera, Peter I did not give the Black Prince the territories that had been agreed in Bayonne nor did he pay for the expense of the campaign. Consequently, relations between King Peter I of Castile and the Prince of Wales came to an end, and Castile and England broke their alliance so that Peter I would no longer count on England's support. This resulted in a political and economic disaster and astronomical losses for the Black Prince after a campaign full of hardships.

Battle of Montiel | ©Jose Daniel Cabrera Peña

Battle of Montiel

1369 Mar 14
, Montiel

The Battle of Montiel was a battle fought on 14 March 1369 between the Franco-Castilian forces supporting Henry of Trastámara and the Granadian-Castilian forces supporting the reigning Peter of Castile. The Franco-Castilians were victorious largely thanks to the enveloping tactics of du Guesclin.

After the battle, Peter fled to the castle of Montiel, where he became trapped. In an attempt to bribe Bertrand du Guesclin, Peter was lured into a trap outside his castle refuge. In the confrontation his half-brother Henry stabbed Peter multiple times. His death on 23 March 1369 marked the end of the Castilian Civil War. His victorious half-brother was crowned Henry II of Castille.

Henry made du Guesclin Duke of Molina and formed an alliance with the French King Charles V. Between 1370 and 1376, the Castilian fleet provided naval support to French campaigns against Aquitaine and the English coast while du Guesclin recaptured Poitou and Normandy from the English.

Siege of Limoges

Siege of Limoges

1370 Sep 19
, Limoges

The town of Limoges had been under English control but in August 1370 it surrendered to the French, opening its gates to the Duke of Berry. The Siege of Limoges was laid by the English army led by Edward the Black Prince in the second week in September. On 19 September, the town was taken by storm, followed by much destruction and the deaths of numerous civilians. The sack effectively ended the Limoges enamel industry, which had been famous across Europe, for around a century.

The Battle of Pontvallain, from an illuminated manuscript of Froissart's Chronicles

Charles V declares war

1370 Dec 4
, Pontvallain

In 1369, on the pretext that Edward had failed to observe the terms of the treaty, Charles V declared war once again. In August a French offensive attempted to recapture castles in Normandy. Men who had fought in earlier English campaigns, and had already won fortune and fame, were summoned from their retirements, and new, younger men were given commands. When Charles V resumed the war, the balance had shifted in his favour; France remained the largest and most powerful state in Western Europe and England had lost its most capable military leaders. Edward III was too old, the Black Prince an invalid, while in December 1370, John Chandos, the vastly experienced seneschal of Poitou, was killed in a skirmish near Lussac-les-Châteaux. On the advice of Bertrand du Guesclin, appointed Constable of France in November 1370, the French adopted an attritional strategy. The French made territorial gains in the west, re-occupying the strategic provincial capital of Poitiers and capturing many castles.

The English had plundered and burnt their way across northern France from Calais to Paris. With winter coming, the English commanders fell out and divided their army into four. The battle consisted of two separate engagements: one at Pontvallain where, after a forced march, which continued overnight, Guesclin, the newly appointed constable of France, surprised a major part of the English force, and wiped it out. In a coordinated attack, Guesclin's subordinate, Louis de Sancerre, caught a smaller English force the same day, at the nearby town of Vaas, also wiping it out. The two are sometimes named as separate battles. The French numbered 5,200 men, and the English force was approximately the same size.

England continued losing territory in Aquitaine until 1374, and as they lost land, they lost the allegiance of the local lords. Pontvallain ended King Edward's short-lived strategy of promoting an alliance with Charles, King of Navarre. It also marked the last use of great companies – large forces of mercenaries – by England in France; most of their original leaders had been killed. Mercenaries were still considered useful, but they were increasingly absorbed into the main armies of both sides.

The Naval Battle of La Rochelle, Chronicle of Jean Froissart, 15th Century.

England's naval supremacy ends

1372 Jun 22 - Jun 23
, La Rochelle

In 1372 the English monarch Edward III planned an important campaign in Aquitaine under the new lieutenant of the Duchy, the Earl of Pembroke. The English rule in Aquitaine was by then under threat. Since 1370 large parts of the region had fallen under French rule. In 1372, Bertrand du Guesclin lay siege at La Rochelle. To respond to the demands of the Franco-Castilian alliance of 1368, the king of Castile, Henry II of Trastámara, dispatched a fleet to Aquitaine under Ambrosio Boccanegra.

John Hastings, 2nd Earl of Pembroke had been dispatched to the town with a small retinue of 160 soldiers, £12,000 and instructions to use the money to recruit an army of 3,000 soldiers around Aquitaine for at least four months. The English fleet probably consisted of 32 ships and 17 small barges of about 50 tons.

The Castilian victory was complete and the entire convoy was captured. This defeat undermined English seaborne trade and supplies and threatened their Gascon possessions. The battle of La Rochelle was the first important English naval defeat of the Hundred Years' War. The English needed a Year to rebuild their fleet through the efforts of fourteen towns.

Battle of Chiset

Battle of Chiset

1373 Mar 21
, Chizé

The French had laid siege to the town and the English sent a relief force. The French, led by Bertrand du Guesclin, met the relief force and defeated it. It was the last major battle in the Valois campaign to recover the county of Poitou, which had been ceded to the English by the Treaty of Brétigny in 1360. The French victory put an end to English domination in the area.

Coronation of Richard II aged ten in 1377, from the Recueil des croniques of Jean de Wavrin. British Library, London.

Richard II of England

1377 Jun 22
, Westminster Abbey

The Black Prince died in 1376; in April 1377, Edward III sent his Lord Chancellor, Adam Houghton, to negotiate with Charles, who returned home when Edward himself died June 21. He was succeeded by his ten year old grandson, Richard II, succeeded to the throne of England.

It was usual to appoint a regent in the case of a child monarch but no regent was appointed for Richard II, who nominally exercised the power of kingship from the date of his accession in 1377. Between 1377 and 1380, actual power was in the hands of a series of councils. The political community preferred this to a regency led by the king's uncle, John of Gaunt, although Gaunt remained highly influential.

Richard faced many challenges during his reign, including the Peasants' Revolt led by Wat Tyler in 1381 and an Anglo-Scottish war in 1384–1385. His attempts to raise taxes to pay for his Scottish adventure and for the protection of Calais against the French made him increasingly unpopular.

A 14th-century miniature symbolizing the schism

Western Schism

1378 Jan 1 - 1417
, Avignon

The Western Schism, also called Papal Schism, The Vatican Standoff, Great Occidental Schism and Schism of 1378, was a split within the Catholic Church lasting from 1378 to 1417 in which bishops residing in Rome and Avignon both claimed to be the true pope, joined by a third line of Pisan popes in 1409. The schism was driven by personalities and political allegiances, with the Avignon papacy being closely associated with the French monarchy. These rival claims to the papal throne damaged the prestige of the office.

Britanny Campaign

Britanny Campaign

1380 Jul 1 - 1381 Jan
, Nantes

Earl of Buckingham commanded an expedition to France to aid England's ally the Duke of Brittany. As Woodstock marched his 5,200 men east of Paris, they were confronted by the army of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, at Troyes, but the French had learned from the Battle of Crécy in 1346 and the Battle of Poitiers in 1356 not to offer a pitched battle to the English so Buckingham forces continued a chevauchée and laid siege to Nantes and its vital bridge over the Loire towards Aquitaine. By January, though, it had become apparent that the Duke of Brittany was reconciled to the new French king Charles VI, and with the alliance collapsing and dysentery ravaging his men, Woodstock abandoned the siege.

Death of Bertrand du Guesclin, by Jean Fouquet

Charles V and du Guesclin dies

1380 Sep 16
, Toulouse

Charles V died on 16 September 1380 and Du Guesclin died of illness at Châteauneuf-de-Randon while on a military expedition in Languedoc. France lost its main leadership and overall momentum in the war. Charles VI succeeded his father as king of France at the age of 11, and he was thus put under a regency led by his uncles, who managed to maintain an effective grip on government affairs until about 1388, well after Charles had achieved royal majority.

With France facing widespread destruction, plague, and economic recession, high taxation put a heavy burden on the French peasantry and urban communities. The war effort against England largely depended on royal taxation, but the population was increasingly unwilling to pay for it, as would be demonstrated at the Harelle and Maillotin revolts in 1382. Charles V had abolished many of these taxes on his deathbed, but subsequent attempts to reinstate them stirred up hostility between the French government and populace.

Late 14th-century depiction of William Walworth killing Wat Tyler; the King is represented twice, watching events unfold (left) and addressing the crowd (right). British Library, London.

Wat Tyler's Rebellion

1381 May 30 - Nov
, Tower of London

The Peasants' Revolt, also named Wat Tyler's Rebellion or the Great Rising, was a major uprising across large parts of England in 1381. The revolt had various causes, including the socio-economic and political tensions generated by the Black Death in the 1340s, the high taxes resulting from the conflict with France during the Hundred Years' War, and instability within the local leadership of London. The revolt heavily influenced the course of the Hundred Years' War, by deterring later Parliaments from raising additional taxes to pay for military campaigns in France.

Dead body of Philip van Artevelde at the Battle of Roosebeke. Illustration from 1885.

Battle of Roosebeke

1382 Nov 27
, Westrozebeke

Philip the Bold had ruled the council of regents from 1380 till 1388, and ruled France during the childhood years of Charles VI, who was Philip's nephew. He deployed the French army in Westrozebeke to suppress a Flemish rebellion led by Philip van Artevelde, who intended to dispose of Louis II of Flanders. Philip II was married to Margaret of Flanders, Louis' daughter. The Battle of Roosebeke took place between a Flemish army under Philip van Artevelde and a French army under Louis II of Flanders who had called upon the help of the French king Charles VI after he had suffered a defeat during the Battle of Beverhoutsveld. The Flemish army was defeated, Philip van Artevelde was slain and his corpse was put on display.

Despenser's Crusade

Despenser's Crusade

1382 Dec 1 - 1383 Sep
, Ghent

Despenser's Crusade (or the Bishop of Norwich's Crusade, sometimes just Norwich Crusade) was a military expedition led by the English bishop Henry le Despenser in 1383 that aimed to assist the city of Ghent in its struggle against the supporters of Antipope Clement VII. It took place during the great Papal schism and the Hundred Years' War between England and France. While France supported Clement, whose court was based in Avignon, the English supported Pope Urban VI in Rome.

English invasion of Scotland

English invasion of Scotland

1385 Jul 1
, Scotland

In July 1385 Richard II, king of England, led an English army into Scotland. The invasion was, in part, retaliation for Scottish border raids, but was most provoked by the arrival of a French army into Scotland the previous summer. England and France were engaged in the Hundred Years' War, and France and Scotland had a treaty to support each other. The English King had only recently come of age, and it was expected that he would play a martial role just as his father, Edward the Black Prince, and grandfather Edward III had done. There was some disagreement amongst the English leadership whether to invade France or Scotland; the King's uncle, John of Gaunt, favoured invading France, to gain him a tactical advantage in Castile, where he himself was technically king through his wife but had trouble asserting his claim. The King's friends among the nobility – who were also Gaunt's enemies – preferred an invasion of Scotland. A parliament the year before had granted funds for a continental campaign and it was deemed unwise to flout the House of Commons. The Crown could barely afford a big campaign. Richard summoned the feudal levy, which had not been called for many years; this was the last occasion on which it was to be summoned. Richard promulgated ordinances to maintain discipline in his invasion force, but the campaign was beset by problems from the start.

Battle of Margate

Battle of Margate

1387 Mar 24 - Mar 25
, Margate

In October 1386, Richard II’s so-called Wonderful Parliament approved a commission which began gathering men and ships for a descent (amphibious assault) on Flanders. This was aimed at provoking an insurrection that would replace the government of Philip the Bold with a pro-English regime.

On 16 March, Richard, Earl of Arundel arrived at Sandwich, where he took command of a fleet of sixty ships. On 24 March 1387 Arundel's fleet sighted part of a French fleet of around 250–360 vessels commanded by Sir Jean de Bucq. As the English attacked, a number of Flemish vessels deserted the fleet and from there a series of battles commenced from Margate into the channel towards the Flemish coast. The first engagement, off Margate itself, was the largest action and forced the allied fleet to flee with the loss of many ships.

Margate was the last major naval battle of the Caroline War phase of the Hundred Years' War. It destroyed France's chance of an invasion of England for at least the next decade.

Truce of Leulinghem

Truce of Leulinghem

1389 Jul 18
, Calais

The Truce of Leulinghem was a truce agreed to by Richard II's Kingdom of England and its allies, and Charles VI's Kingdom of France and its allies, on 18 July 1389, ending the second phase of the Hundred Years' War. England was on the edge of financial collapse and suffering from internal political divisions. On the other side, Charles VI was suffering from a mental illness that handicapped the furthering of the war by the French government. Neither side was willing to concede on the primary cause of the war, the legal status of the Duchy of Aquitaine and the King of England's homage to the King of France through his possession of the duchy. However, both sides faced major internal issues that could badly damage their kingdoms if the war continued. The truce was originally negotiated by representatives of the kings to last three years, but the two kings met in person at Leulinghem, near the English fortress of Calais, and agreed to extend the truce to a twenty-seven years' period.

Key Findings:

  • Joint crusade against the Turks
  • English support of French plan to end the Papal schism
  • Marriage alliance between England and France
  • Peace to the Iberian peninsula
  • English evacuated all their holdings in northern France except Calais.
The assassination of Louis I, Duke of Orléans in Paris in November 1407

Armagnac–Burgundian Civil War

1407 Nov 23 - 1435 Sep 21
, France

On 23 November 1407, Louis, Duke of Orléans, brother of king Charles VI, was murdered by masked assassins in the service of John the Fearless at the Hôtel Barbette on the Rue Vieille-du-Temple, in Paris.

The Armagnac–Burgundian Civil War was a conflict between two cadet branches of the French royal family — the House of Orléans (Armagnac faction) and the House of Burgundy (Burgundian faction) from 1407 to 1435. It began during a lull in the Hundred Years' War against the English and overlapped with the Western Schism of the papacy. The French civil war begins.

The war's causes were rooted in the reign of Charles VI of France (Charles V's eldest son and successor) and a confrontation between two different economic, social and religious systems. On the one hand was France, very strong in agriculture, with a strong feudal and religious system, and on the other was England, a country whose rainy climate favoured pasture and sheep farming and where artisans, the middle classes and cities were important. The Burgundians were in favour of the English model (the more so since the County of Flanders, whose cloth merchants were the main market for English wool, belonged to the Duke of Burgundy), while the Armagnacs defended the French model. In the same way, the Western Schism induced the election of an Armagnac-backed antipope based at Avignon, Pope Clement VII, opposed by the English-backed pope of Rome, Pope Urban VI.

Lancastrian War | ©Darren Tan

Lancastrian War

1415 Jan 1 - 1453
, France

The Lancastrian War was the third and final phase of the Anglo-French Hundred Years' War. It lasted from 1415, when King Henry V of England invaded Normandy, to 1453, when the English lost Bordeaux. It followed a long period of peace from the end of the Caroline War in 1389. The phase was named after the House of Lancaster, the ruling house of the Kingdom of England, to which Henry V belonged.

Henry V of England asserted a claim of inheritance through the female line, with female agency and inheritance recognised in English law but prohibited in France by the Salic law of the Salian Franks. The first half of this phase of the war was dominated by the Kingdom of England. Initial English successes, notably at the famous Battle of Agincourt, coupled with divisions among the French ruling class, allowed the English to gain control of large parts of France.

The second half of this phase of the war was dominated by the Kingdom of France. French forces counterattacked, inspired by Joan of Arc, La Hire and the Count of Dunois, and aided by the English loss of its main allies, the Dukes of Burgundy and Brittany.

Siege of Harfleur | ©Graham Turner

Siege of Harfleur

1415 Aug 18 - Sep 22
, Harfleur

Henry V of England invaded France following the failure of negotiations with the French. He claimed the title of King of France through his great-grandfather Edward III, although in practice the English kings were generally prepared to renounce this claim if the French would acknowledge the English claim on Aquitaine and other French lands (the terms of the Treaty of Brétigny). By 1415 negotiations had ground to a halt, with the English claiming that the French had mocked their claims and ridiculed Henry himself. In December 1414, the English Parliament was persuaded to grant Henry a "double subsidy", a tax at twice the traditional rate, to recover his inheritance from the French. On 19 April 1415, Henry again asked the great council to sanction war with France, and this time they agreed.

On Tuesday 13 August 1415, Henry landed at Chef-en-Caux in the Seine estuary. Then he attacked Harfleur with at least 2,300 men-at-arms and 9,000 bowmen. The defenders of Harfleur surrendered to the English on terms and were treated as prisoners of war. The English army was considerably reduced by casualties and an outbreak of dysentery during the siege but marched towards Calais, leaving a garrison behind at the port.

Battle of Agincourt

Battle of Agincourt

1415 Oct 25
, Azincourt

After taking Harfleur, Henry V marched to the north, the French moved to block them along the River Somme. They were successful for a time, forcing Henry to move south, away from Calais, to find a ford. The English finally crossed the Somme south of Péronne, at Béthencourt and Voyennes and resumed marching north. By 24 October, both armies faced each other for battle, but the French declined, hoping for the arrival of more troops. The two armies spent the night of 24 October on open ground. The next day the French initiated negotiations as a delaying tactic, but Henry ordered his army to advance and to start a battle that, given the state of his army, he would have preferred to avoid, or to fight defensively. King Henry V of England led his troops into battle and participated in hand-to-hand fighting. King Charles VI of France did not command the French army as he suffered from psychotic illnesses and associated mental incapacity. The French were commanded by Constable Charles d'Albret and various prominent French noblemen of the Armagnac party. Although the victory had been militarily decisive, its impact was complex. It did not lead to further English conquests immediately as Henry's priority was to return to England, which he did on 16 November, to be received in triumph in London on the 23rd. Very quickly after the battle, the fragile truce between the Armagnac and Burgundian factions broke down.

Battle of Valmont | ©Graham Turner

Battle of Valmont

1416 Mar 9 - Mar 11
, Valmont

A raiding force under Thomas Beaufort, Earl of Dorset, was confronted by a larger French army under Bernard VII, Count of Armagnac at Valmont. The initial action went against the English, who lost their horses and baggage. They managed to rally and withdraw in good order to Harfleur, only to find the French had cut them off. A second action now took place, during which the French army was defeated with the aid of a sally from the English garrison of Harfleur.

The initial action near Valmont

Dorset marched out on his raid on 9 March. He looted and burnt several villages, reaching as far as Cany-Barville. The English then turned for home. They were intercepted near Valmont by the French. The English had time to form a fighting line, placing their horses and baggage to the rear, before the French launched a mounted attack. The French cavalry broke through the thin English line but, instead of turning to finish the English, charged on to loot the baggage and steal horses. This allowed Dorset, who had been wounded, to rally his men and lead them to a small hedged garden nearby, which they defended till nightfall. The French withdrew to Valmont for the night, rather than stay in the field, and this allowed Dorset to lead his men off under the cover of darkness to take shelter in woods at Les Loges. English casualties at this stage of the battle were estimated at 160 killed.

The second action near Harfleur

The following day, the English struck out for the coast. They moved down onto the beach and began the long march across the shingle to Harfleur. However, as they neared Harfleur, they saw that a French force was awaiting them on the cliffs above. The English deployed in line and the French attacked down the steep slope. The French were disordered by the descent and were defeated, leaving many dead. As the English looted the corpses, the main French army came up. This force did not attack, instead forming up on the high ground, forcing the English to attack. This they successfully did, forcing the French back. The retreating French then found themselves attacked in the flank by the sallying garrison of Harfleur and retreat turned to rout. The French are said to have lost 200 men killed and 800 captured in this action. D'Armagnac later had a further 50 hanged for fleeing from the battle.

Siege of Caen

Siege of Caen

1417 Aug 14 - Sep 20
, Caen

Following his victory at Agincourt in 1415, Henry had returned to England and led a second invasion force across the English Channel. Caen was a large city in the Duchy of Normandy, a historic English territory. Following a large-scale bombardment Henry's initial assault was repulsed, but his brother Thomas, Duke of Clarence was able to force a breach and overrun the city. The castle held out until 20 September before surrendering.

In the course of the siege, an English knight, Sir Edward Sprenghose, managed to scale the walls, only to be burned alive by the city's defenders. Thomas Walsingham wrote that this was one of the factors in the violence with which the captured town was sacked by the English. During the sack on orders of Henry V all 1800 men in the captured city were killed but priests and women were not to be harmed.

Caen remained in English hands until 1450 when it was taken back during the French reconquest of Normandy in the closing stages of the war.

Siege of Rouen | ©Graham Turner

Siege of Rouen

1418 Jul 29 - 1419 Jan 19
, Rouen

When the English reached Rouen, the walls were defended with 60 towers, each containing three cannons and 6 gates protected by barbicans. The garrison of Rouen had been reinforced by 4,000 men and there were some 16,000 civilians willing to endure a siege. The defence was lined by an army of crossbow men under the command of Alain Blanchard, commander of the crossbows (arbalétriers), and second in command to Guy le Bouteiller, a Burgundian captain and the overall commander. To besiege the city, Henry decided to set up four fortified camps and barricade the River Seine with iron chains, completely surrounding the city, with the English intending to starve out the defenders. The duke of Burgundy, John the Fearless, had captured Paris but did not make an attempt to save Rouen and advised citizens to look after themselves. By December, the inhabitants were eating cats, dogs, horses, and even mice. The streets were filled with starving citizens. Despite several sorties led by the French garrison, this state of affairs continued. The French surrendered on 19 January. Henry went on to take all of Normandy, apart from Mont-Saint-Michel, which withstood blockade. Rouen became the main English base in northern France, allowing Henry to launch campaigns on Paris and further south into the country.

Miniature showing John the Fearless's assassination on the bridge at Montereau, painted by the Master of the Prayer Books

Duke of Burgundy murdered

1419 Sep 10
, Montereau-Fault-Yonne

Because of the shattering defeat at Agincourt, John the Fearless's troops set about the task of capturing Paris. On 30 May 1418, he did capture the city, but not before the new Dauphin, the future Charles VII of France, had escaped. John then installed himself in Paris and made himself protector of the King. Although not an open ally of the English, John did nothing to prevent the surrender of Rouen in 1419. With the whole of northern France in English hands and Paris occupied by Burgundy, the Dauphin tried to bring about a reconciliation with John. They met in July and swore peace on the bridge of Pouilly, near Melun. On the grounds that peace was not sufficiently assured by the meeting at Pouilly, a fresh interview was proposed by the Dauphin to take place on 10 September 1419 on the bridge at Montereau. John of Burgundy was present with his escort for what he considered a diplomatic meeting. He was, however, assassinated by the Dauphin's companions. He was later buried in Dijon. Following this, his son and successor Philip the Good formed an alliance with the English, which would prolong the Hundred Years' War for decades and cause incalculable damage to France and its subjects.

Treaty of Troyes

Treaty of Troyes

1420 May 21
, Troyes

The Treaty of Troyes was an agreement that King Henry V of England and his heirs would inherit the French throne upon the death of King Charles VI of France. It was formally signed in the French city of Troyes on 21 May 1420 in the aftermath of Henry's successful military campaign in France. In the same Year, Henry marries Catherine of Valois, daughter of Charles VI, and their heir would inherit both kingdoms. The Dauphin, Charles VII is declared illegitimate.

Battle of Baugé | ©Graham Turner

Battle of Baugé

1421 Mar 22
, Baugé

A Scottish army was assembled under the leadership of John, Earl of Buchan, and Archibald, Earl of Wigtown, and from late 1419 to 1421 the Scottish army became the mainstay of the Dauphin’s defence of the lower Loire valley. When Henry returned to England in 1421, he left his heir presumptive, Thomas, Duke of Clarence, in charge of the remaining army. Following the King's instructions, Clarence led 4000 men in raids through the provinces of Anjou and Maine. This chevauchée met with little resistance, and by Good Friday, 21 March, the English army had made camp near the little town of Vieil-Baugé. The Franco-Scots army of about 5000 also arrived in the Vieil-Baugé area to block the English army's progress. There are several accounts of the Battle of Baugé; they may vary in the detail; however, most agree that principal factor in the Franco-Scottish victory was the rashness of the Duke of Clarence. It seems that Clarence did not realise how big the Franco-Scottish army was as he decided to rely on the element of surprise and attack immediately. The battle ended in a major defeat for the English.

Siege of Meaux | ©Graham Turner

Siege of Meaux

1421 Oct 6 - 1422 May 10
, Meaux

It was while Henry was in the north of England he was informed of the disaster at Baugé and the death of his brother. He is said, by contemporaries, to have borne the news manfully. Henry returned to France with an army of 4000–5000 men. He arrived in Calais on 10 June 1421 and he set off immediately to relieve the Duke of Exeter at Paris. The capital was threatened by French forces, based at Dreux, Meaux, and Joigny. The King besieged and captured Dreux quite easily, and then he went south, capturing Vendôme and Beaugency before marching on Orleans. He did not have sufficient supplies to besiege such a large and well-defended city, so after three days he went north to capture Villeneuve-le-Roy.

This accomplished, Henry marched on Meaux with an army of more than 20,000 men.The town's defense was led by the Bastard of Vaurus, by all accounts cruel and evil, but a brave commander all the same. The siege commenced on 6 October 1421, mining and bombardment soon brought down the walls. Casualties began to mount in the English army. As the siege continued, Henry himself grew sick, although he refused to leave until the siege was finished. On 9 May 1422, the town of Meaux surrendered, although the garrison held out. Under continued bombardment, the garrison gave in as well on 10 May, following a siege of seven months.

Death of Henry V

Death of Henry V

1422 Aug 31
, Château de Vincennes

Henry V died on 31 August 1422, at the Château de Vincennes. He had been weakened by dysentery, contracted during the siege of Meaux, and had to be carried in a litter towards the end of his journey. A possible contributory factor is heatstroke; the last day he was active he had been riding in full armour in blistering heat. He was 35 years old and had reigned for nine years. Shortly before his death, Henry V named his brother, John, Duke of Bedford, regent of France in the name of his son, Henry VI of England, then only a few months old. Henry V did not live to be crowned King of France himself, as he might confidently have expected after the Treaty of Troyes, because Charles VI, to whom he had been named heir, survived him by two months.

Battle of Cravant

Battle of Cravant

1423 Jul 31
, Cravant

In the early summer of 1423, the French Dauphin Charles assembled an army at Bourges intending to invade Burgundian territory. This French army contained a large number of Scots under Sir John Stewart of Darnley, who was commanding the entire mixed force, as well as Spanish and Lombard mercenaries. This army besieged the town of Cravant. The garrison of Cravant requested help from the Dowager Duchess of Burgundy, who raised troops and in turn sought support from Burgundy's English allies, which was forthcoming. The two allied armies, one English, one Burgundian, rendezvoused at Auxerre on 29 July.

Approaching the town from across the river, the allies saw that the French army had changed position and was now waiting for them on the other bank. For three hours the forces watched each other, neither willing to attempt an opposed river crossing. Eventually, the Scots archers began shooting into the allied ranks. The allied artillery replied, supported by their own archers and crossbowmen.

Seeing the Dauphinists were suffering casualties and becoming disordered, Salisbury took the initiative and his army began to cross the waist-high river, some 50 metres wide, under a covering barrage of arrows from the English archers. The French began to withdraw, but the Scots refused to flee and fought on, to be cut down by the hundreds. Perhaps 1,200–3,000 of them fell at the bridgehead or along the riverbanks, and over 2,000 prisoners were taken. The Dauphin's forces retreated to the Loire.

Battle of La Brossinière

Battle of La Brossinière

1423 Sep 26
, Bourgon

In September 1423, John de la Pole left Normandy with 2000 soldiers and 800 archers to go raiding in Maine and Anjou. He seized Segré, and there mustered a huge collection of loot and a herd of 1,200 bulls and cows, before setting off to return to Normandy, taking hostages as he went.

During the battle, the English, with a long baggage train but marching in good order, emplaced great stakes, behind which they could retire in case of cavalry attack. The infantry moved to the front and the convoy of carts and troops closed the route to the rear. Trémigon, Loré and Coulonges wanted to make an attempt on the defences, but they were too strong; they turned and attacked the English in the flank, who were broken and cornered against a large ditch, losing their order. The foot soldiers then advanced and fought hand-to-hand. The English were unable to withstand attack for long.

The result was a butchery in which 1,200 to 1,400 men of the English forces perished on the field, with 2-300 killed in the pursuit.

Duke of Gloucester invades Holland | ©Osprey Publishing

Duke of Gloucester invades Holland

1424 Jan 1
, Netherlands

One of Henry VI's regents, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, marries Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut, and invades Holland to regain her former dominions, bringing him into direct conflict with Philip III, Duke of Burgundy.

In 1424, Jaqueline and Humphrey had landed with English forces and quickly overrun Hainaut. The death of John of Bavaria in January 1425 led to short campaign by Burgundian forces in pursuit of Philip's claim and the English were ousted. Jaqueline had ended the war in the custody of Philip but in September 1425 escaped to Gouda, where she again asserted her rights. As leader of the Hooks, she drew most of her support from the petty nobility and small towns. Her opponents, the Cods, were drawn largely from the burghers of the cities, including Rotterdam and Dordrecht.

Battle of Verneuil | ©Anonymous

Battle of Verneuil

1424 Aug 17
, Verneuil-sur-Avre

In August, the new Franco-Scottish army made ready to march into action to relieve the fortress of Ivry, which had been under siege by the Duke of Bedford.

On 15 August, Bedford received news that Verneuil was in French hands and made his way there as quickly as he could. As he neared the town two days later, the Scots persuaded their French comrades to make a stand.

The battle started with a short archery exchange between English longbowmen and Scottish archers, after which a force of 2,000 Milanese heavy cavalry on the French side mounted a cavalry charge that brushed aside the ineffective English arrow barrage and wooden archer's stakes, penetrated the formation of English men-at-arms and dispersed one wing of their longbowmen. Fighting on foot, the well-armoured Anglo-Norman and Franco-Scottish men-at-arms clashed in the open in a ferocious hand-to-hand melee that went on for about 45 minutes. The English longbowmen reformed and joined the struggle. The French men-at-arms broke in the end and were slaughtered, with the Scots in particular receiving no quarter from the English.

The result of the battle was to virtually destroy the Dauphin's field army. After Verneuil, the English were able to consolidate their position in Normandy. The Army of Scotland as a distinct unit ceased to play a significant part in the Hundred Years' War, although many Scots remained in French service.

Battle of Brouwershaven

Battle of Brouwershaven

1426 Jan 13
, Brouwershaven

Jaqueline requested support from her husband Humphrey, who was in England, and he set about raising a force of 1500 English troops to reinforce her, led by Walter FitzWalter, 7th Baron FitzWalter. In the meantime, Jaqueline's army had defeated a Burgundian force of city militia at the Battle of Alphen on 22 October 1425. Duke Philip had plenty of notice of the assembly of the English force and raised a fleet to intercept them at sea. Although he did succeed in catching a small part of the English force, consisting of 300 men, most of the English force made landfall at the port of Brouwershaven, where they rendezvoused with their Zeeland allies.

The Zeelander forces allowed their opponents to land unopposed from boats, perhaps hoping for an Agincourt-like triumph with the aid of their English allies.

However, when the Burgundians were still disembarking, the English led an attack, advancing in good order, giving a great shout and blowing trumpets. The English troops were bombarded with a cannonade and a volley of arbalest bolts from the militia. The well-disciplined English longbowmen held firm and then shot back with their longbows, quickly scattering the crossbowmen in disarray. The well-armored and equally disciplined Burgundian knights then advanced and came to grips with the English men-at-arms. Unable to withstand the fierce attack of the knights, the English men-at-arms and archers were driven onto a dike and were virtually wiped out. The loss was devastating to Jacqueline's cause.

Battle of St James

Battle of St James

1426 Feb 27 - Mar 6
, Saint-James

In late 1425, Jean, Duke of Brittany, had switched his allegiance from the English to Charles the dauphin. In retaliation, Sir Thomas Rempston invaded the duchy with a small army in January 1426, penetrating to the capital, Rennes, before falling back to St. James-de-Beuvron on the Norman frontier. The duke of Brittany's brother, Arthur de Richemont, newly made constable of France, rushed to his brother's aid. Richemont hastily levied an army across Brittany in February and gathered his forces in Antrain. The newly assembled Breton force first captured Pontorson, executing all the surviving English defenders and entirely destroying the wall after seizing the city. By the end of February, Richemont's army then marched on St. James. Rempston was heavily outnumbered, with 600 men to Richemont's feudal horde of 16,000.

Richemont was reluctant to launch a full assault with troops of such poor quality. After holding a council of war with his officers, he decided to assault the walls through the two breaches. On the 6th of March the French attacked in force. All day Rempston's troops held the breaches, but there was no let-up in the constable's assault. The English defenders capitalized on a panic that ensued among the largely ill-trained Breton militia to inflict heavy losses on the fleeing Breton troops. During the chaotic retreat, hundreds of men drowned crossing the nearby river while many others fell to the deadly bolts of the defenders' crossbows.

Siege of Orléans

Siege of Orléans

1428 Oct 12 - 1429 May 8
, Orléans

By 1428, the English were laying siege to Orléans, one of the most heavily defended cities in Europe, with more cannons than the French. However one of the French cannons managed to kill the English commander, the Earl of Salisbury. The English force maintained several small fortresses around the city, concentrated in areas where the French could move supplies into the city.

Charles VII met Joan for the first time at the Royal Court in Chinon in late February or early March 1429, when she was seventeen and he was twenty-six. She told him that she had come to raise the siege of Orléans and to lead him to Reims for his coronation. The dauphin commissioned plate armor for her. She designed her own banner and had a sword brought to her from under the altar in the church at Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois.

Before Joan's arrival at Chinon, the Armagnac strategic situation was bad but not hopeless. The Armagnac forces were prepared to endure a prolonged siege at Orléans, the Burgundians had recently withdrawn from the siege due to disagreements about territory, and the English were debating whether to continue. Nonetheless, after almost a century of war, the Armagnacs were demoralized. Once Joan joined the Dauphin's cause, her personality began to raise their spirits inspiring devotion and the hope of divine assistance and they attacked the English redoubts, forcing the English to lift the siege.

Battle of the Herrings | ©Darren Tan

Battle of the Herrings

1429 Feb 12
, Rouvray-Saint-Denis

The immediate cause of the battle was an attempt by French and Scottish forces, led by Charles of Bourbon and Sir John Stewart of Darnley, to intercept a supply convoy headed for the English army at Orléans. The English had been laying siege to the city since the previous October. This supply convoy was escorted by an English force under Sir John Fastolf and had been outfitted in Paris, whence it had departed some time earlier. The battle was decisively won by the English.

Loire Campaign | ©Graham Turner

Loire Campaign

1429 Jun 11 - Jun 12
, Jargeau

The Loire Campaign was a campaign launched by Joan of Arc during the Hundred Years' War. The Loire was cleared of all English and Burgundian troops.

Joan and John II, Duke of Alençon marched to capture Jargeau from the Earl of Suffolk. The English had 700 troops to face 1,200 French troops. Then, a battle began with a French assault on the suburbs. English defenders left the city walls and the French fell back. Joan of Arc used her standard to begin a French rally. The English retreated to the city walls and the French lodged in the suburbs for the night.

Joan of Arc initiated an assault on the town walls, surviving a stone projectile that split in two against her helmet as she climbed a scaling ladder. The English suffered heavy losses. Most estimates place the number at 300–400 of some 700 combatants. Suffolk became a prisoner.

Battle of Meung-sur-Loire

Battle of Meung-sur-Loire

1429 Jun 15
, Meung-sur-Loire

After the Battle of Jargeau, Joan moved her army to Meung-sur-Loire. There, she decided to launch an assault. English defenses at Meung-sur-Loire consisted of three components: the walled town, the fortification at the bridge, and a large walled castle just outside the town. The castle served as headquarters to the English command of John, Lord Talbot and Thomas, Lord Scales.

Joan of Arc and Duke John II of Alençon controlled a force that included captains Jean d'Orléans, Gilles de Rais, Jean Poton de Xaintrailles, and La Hire. Estimates of numerical strength vary with the Journal du Siège d'Orléans citing 6000 - 7000 for the French. A number that large probably counts noncombatants. The English force's numbers remain uncertain, but are lower than the French. They were led by Lord Talbot and Lord Scales. Bypassing the city and the castle, they staged a frontal assault on the bridge fortifications, conquered it in one day, and installed a garrison. This hampered English movement south of the Loire.

Battle of Beaugency | ©Graham Turner

Battle of Beaugency

1429 Jun 16 - Jun 17
, Beaugency

Joan launched an attack on Beaugency. Joan of Arc and Duke John II of Alençon controlled a force that included captains Jean d'Orléans, Gilles de Rais, Jean Poton de Xaintrailles, and La Hire. John Talbot led the English defense. Breaking with siege warfare custom, the French army followed the 15 June capture of the bridge at Meung-sur-Loire not with an attack on that town or its castle but with an assault on neighboring Beaugency the next day.

Unlike Meung-sur-Loire, the main stronghold at Beaugency was inside the city walls. During the first day of fighting the English abandoned the town and retreated into the castle. The French bombarded the castle with artillery fire. That evening de Richemont and his force arrived.

Hearing news of an English relief force approaching from Paris under Sir John Fastolf, d'Alençon negotiated the English surrender and granted them safe conduct out of Beaugency.

Battle of Patay | ©Graham Turner

Battle of Patay

1429 Jun 18
, Patay

An English reinforcement army under Sir John Fastolf departed from Paris following the defeat at Orléans. The French had moved swiftly, capturing three bridges and accepting the English surrender at Beaugency the day before Fastolf's army arrived. The French, in the belief that they could not overcome a fully prepared English army in open battle, scoured the area in hopes of finding the English unprepared and vulnerable.

The English excelled at open battles; they took up a position whose exact location is unknown but traditionally believed to be near the tiny village of Patay. Fastolf, John Talbot and Sir Thomas de Scales commanded the English.

On hearing the news of the English position, about 1,500 men under captains La Hire and Jean Poton de Xaintrailles, composing the heavily armed and armoured cavalry vanguard of the French army, attacked the English. The battle swiftly turned into a rout, with every Englishman on a horse fleeing while the infantry, mostly composed of longbowmen, were cut down in droves. Longbowmen were never intended to fight armoured knights unsupported except from prepared positions where the knights could not charge them, and they were massacred. For once the French tactic of a large frontal cavalry assault had succeeded, with decisive results.

In the Loire campaign, Joan had won a great victory over the English at all of the battles and drove them out of the Loire river, and routed Fastolf back to Paris where he had departed from.

Joan captured by the Burgundians at Compiègne. | ©Osprey Publishing

Joan of Arc captured and executed

1430 May 23
, Compiègne

Joan traveled to Compiègne the following May to help defend the city against an English and Burgundian siege. On 23 May 1430 she was with a force that attempted to attack the Burgundian camp at Margny north of Compiègne, but was ambushed and captured.

Joan was imprisoned by the Burgundians at Beaurevoir Castle. She made several escape attempts. The English negotiated with their Burgundian allies to transfer her to their custody. The English moved Joan to the city of Rouen, which served as their main headquarters in France. The Armagnacs attempted to rescue her several times by launching military campaigns toward Rouen while she was held there.

She was executed by burning on 30 May 1431.

Battle of Gerberoy | ©Graham Turner

Battle of Gerberoy

1435 May 9
, Gerberoy

During the Year 1434 the French king Charles VII increased control over the territories north of Paris, including Soissons, Compiègne, Senlis and Beauvais. Due to its position Gerberoy appeared as a good outpost to threaten the English occupied Normandy and even stronger to protect the nearby Beauvais of a possible reconquest.

The Earl of Arundel appeared on 9 May before Gerberoy along with a vanguard that probably consisted of a few knights and withdrew after a brief observation of the valley, waiting for the arrival of the main English force.

A column of French cavalry under La Hire left the town, and bypassed the position of the English vanguard to launch a surprise attack on the English, as they were marching along the road to Gournay. The French cavalry arrived undetected in a place called Les Epinettes, near Laudecourt, a hamlet near Gournay, and then attacked the English main force. After it was La Hire and his horsemen attacked the English on the streets of Gournai, and heavy fighting between the two sides ensued with many English soldiers and French cavalry being killed. When the French reinforcements appeared, the remaining English soldiers realised their situation was now hopeless and retreated to Gerberoy. During the retreat, the French were able to kill a large number of English soldiers.

Small illustration from Vigiles de Charles VII (circa 1484) depicting the congress.

Burgundy switches sides

1435 Sep 20
, Arras

Bedford was the only person that kept Burgundy in the English alliance. Burgundy was not on good terms with Bedford's younger brother, Gloucester. At Bedford's death in 1435, Burgundy deemed himself excused from the English alliance, and signed the Treaty of Arras, restoring Paris to Charles VII of France. His allegiance remained fickle, but the Burgundian focus on expanding their domains into the Low Countries left them little energy to intervene in France. Philip the Good was personally exempted from rendering homage to Charles VII (for having been complicit in his father's murder).

Charles VII of France. | ©Jean Fouquet

French Resurgence

1437 Jan 1
, France

Henry, who was by nature shy, pious, and averse to deceit and bloodshed, immediately allowed his court to be dominated by a few noble favourites who clashed on the matter of the French war when he assumed the reins of government in 1437. After the death of King Henry V, England had lost momentum in the Hundred Years' War, whereas the House of Valois had gained ground beginning with Joan of Arc's military victories in the Year 1429. The young King Henry VI came to favour a policy of peace in France and thus favoured the faction around Cardinal Beaufort and William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, who thought likewise; the Duke of Gloucester and Richard, Duke of York, who argued for a continuation of the war, were ignored. The allegiance of Burgundy remained fickle, but the English focus on expanding their domains in the Low Countries left them little energy to intervene in the rest of France. The long truces that marked the war gave Charles time to centralise the French state and reorganise his army and government, replacing his feudal levies with a more modern professional army that could put its superior numbers to good use. A castle that once could only be captured after a prolonged siege would now fall after a few days from cannon bombardment. The French artillery developed a reputation as the best in the world.

Treaty of Tours

Treaty of Tours

1444 May 28 - 1449 Jul 31
, Château de Plessis-lez-Tours

The Treaty of Tours was an attempted peace agreement between Henry VI of England and Charles VII of France, concluded by their envoys on 28 May 1444 in the closing years of the Hundred Years' War. The terms stipulated the marriage of Charles VII's niece, Margaret of Anjou, to Henry VI, and the creation of a truce of two years – later extended – between the kingdoms of England and France. In exchange for the marriage, Charles wanted the English-held area of Maine in northern France, just south of Normandy.

The treaty was seen as a major failure for England as the bride secured for Henry VI was a poor match, being Charles VII's niece only through marriage, and was otherwise related to him by blood only distantly. Her marriage also came without a dowry, as Margaret was the daughter of the impoverished Duke René of Anjou, and Henry was also expected to pay for the wedding. Henry believed the treaty was a first step towards a lasting peace, while Charles intended to use it purely for military advantage. The truce collapsed in 1449 and England quickly lost what remained of its French lands, bringing the Hundred Years' War to an end.

The French held the initiative, and, by 1444, English rule in France was limited to Normandy in the north and a strip of land in Gascony in the southwest, while Charles VII ruled over Paris and the rest of France with the support of most of the French regional nobility.

Battle of Formigny | ©Jean Chartier

Battle of Formigny

1450 Apr 15
, Formigny

The French, under Charles VII, had taken the time offered by the Treaty of Tours in 1444 to reorganize and reinvigorate their armies. The English, without clear leadership from the weak Henry VI, were scattered and dangerously weak. When the French broke the truce in June 1449 they were in a much improved position.

The English had gathered a small army during the winter of 1449. Numbering around 3,400 men, it was dispatched from Portsmouth to Cherbourg under the command of Sir Thomas Kyriell. Upon landing on 15 March 1450, Kyriell's army was reinforced by with forces drawn from Norman garrisons.

At. Formigny, the French opened the engagement with a failed assault on the English position with their dismounted men-at-arms. French cavalry charges on the English flanks were also defeated. Clermont then deployed two culverins to open fire on the English defenders. Unable to withstand the fire, the English attacked and captured the guns. The French army was now in disarray.

At this moment the Breton cavalry force under Richemont arrived from the south, having crossed the Aure and approached the English force from the flank. As his men were carrying off the French guns, Kyriell shifted forces to the left to face the new threat. Clermont responded by attacking again. Having abandoned their prepared position, the English force was charged upon by Richemont's Breton cavalry and massacred. Kyriell was captured and his army destroyed. A small force under Sir Matthew Gough was able to escape.

Kyriell's army had ceased to exist. With no other significant English forces in Normandy, the whole region quickly fell to the victorious French. Caen was captured on 12 June and Cherbourg, the last English-held fortress in Normandy, fell on 12 August.

English retake Bordeaux

English retake Bordeaux

1452 Oct 23
, Bordeaux

After the 1451 French capture of Bordeaux by the armies of Charles VII, the Hundred Years' War appeared to be at an end. The English primarily focused on reinforcing their only remaining possession, Calais, and watching over the seas. The citizens of Bordeaux considered themselves subjects of the English monarch and sent messengers to Henry VI of England demanding that he recapture the province. On 17 October 1452, John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury landed near Bordeaux with a force of 3,000 men. With the cooperation of the townspeople, Talbot easily took the city on 23 October. The English subsequently took control over most of Western Gascony by the end of the Year. The French knew an expedition was coming, but had expected it to come through Normandy. After this surprise, Charles VII prepared his forces over the winter, and by early 1453 he was ready to counter-attack.

Battle of Castillon | ©Graham Turner

Battle of Castillon

1453 Jul 17
, Castillon-la-Bataille

Charles invaded Guyenne with three separate armies, all headed for Bordeaux. Talbot received 3,000 additional men, reinforcements led by his fourth and favourite son, John, the Viscount Lisle. The French laid siege to Castillon (approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) east of Bordeaux) on 8 July. Talbot acceded to the pleas of the town leaders, abandoning his original plan to wait at Bordeaux for more reinforcements, and set out to relieve the garrison.

The French army was commanded by committee; Charles VII's ordnance officer Jean Bureau laid out the camp to maximize French artillery strength. In a defensive setup, Bureau's forces built an artillery park out of range from Castillon's guns. According to Desmond Seward, the park "consisted of a deep trench with a wall of earth behind it which was strengthened by tree-trunks; its most remarkable feature was the irregular, wavy line of the ditch and earthwork, which enabled the guns to enfilade any attackers". The park included up to 300 guns of various sizes, and was protected by a ditch and palisade on three sides and a steep bank of the River Lidoire on the fourth.

Talbot left Bordeaux on 16 July. He outdistanced a majority of his forces, arriving at Libourne by sunset with only 500 men-at-arms and 800 mounted archers. The following day, this force defeated a small French detachment of archers stationed at a priory near Castillon. Along with the morale boost of victory at the priory, Talbot also pushed forward because of reports that the French were retreating. However, the cloud of dust leaving the camp which the townsmen indicated as a retreat was in fact created by camp followers departing before the battle.

The English advanced but soon ran into the full force of the French army. Despite being outnumbered and in a vulnerable position, Talbot ordered his men to continue fighting. The battle ended in an English rout, and both Talbot and his son were killed. There is some debate over the circumstances of Talbot's death, but it appears that his horse was killed by a cannon shot, and its mass pinning him down, a French archer in turn killed him with an axe. With Talbot's death, English authority in Gascony eroded and the French retook Bordeaux on 19 October. It was not apparent to either side that the period of conflict was over. In hindsight, the battle marks a decisive turning point in history, and is cited as the endpoint of the period known as the Hundred Years' War.



1453 Dec 1
, France

Henry VI of England lost his mental capacity in late 1453, which led to the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses in England. Some have speculated that learning of the defeat at Castillon led to his mental collapse. The English Crown lost all its continental possessions except for the Pale of Calais, which was the last English possession in mainland France, and the Channel Islands, historically part of the Duchy of Normandy and thus of the Kingdom of France. Calais was lost in 1558.

The Treaty of Picquigny(1475) formally ended the Hundred Years' War with Edward renouncing his claim to the throne of France. Louis XI was to pay Edward IV 75,000 crowns upfront, essentially a bribe to return to England and not take up arms to pursue his claim to the French throne. He would then receive a yearly pension thereafter of 50,000 crowns. Also the King of France was to ransom the deposed English queen, Margaret of Anjou, who was in Edward's custody, with 50,000 crowns. It also included pensions to many of Edward's lords.


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