The Hundred Years War

.. he two countries were very similar with just one distinct difference which Edward opposed. Both had a large rural peasantry with free tenants and serfs. The tenants and serfs lived on the farmland that they farmed which was owned by nobels. In the towns there were many artisans merchants and clerks on the streets.

These were considered the middle class people. The nobles were separated into two classes. The first class was made up of lesser lords who owned small estates and had local powers. The higher aristocracy was made up of the small elite. These were dukes, earls, counts, and princes of lands.

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The difference began here. In England there was a single government that was involved in governing the whole land. In France the government was divided and counts or dukes were assigned to rule over certain areas of the land (Lace 24). In 1339 Edward began battle. He sent a small army to Flanders to try to provoke Philips troops.

He then went south and began a siege slaughtering livestock, burning crops and villages, and killing people. He also began the use of a chevauchee which literally means, run through on horesback. These were intended to make people sick of war and weaken the local government. The French marched north and met the English near St. Quentin.

Edward challenged Philip there and Philip agreed, but only if Edward could find a battleground without trees in the way. Philip later changed his mind though and backed down. This made Edward mad because it was a waste of time and money (Lace 30). On June 24, 1340, the English sailed toward France. They turned around, but the French chased them. Because the harbor was so narrow the two fleets ran into each other.

The English strategy was to crash into the French boats and attach themselves using grappling hooks and then swarm aboard. The English used arrows against the French and were the first to kill off a large number of people. This battle, at Sluys, was the Englishs first major victory. After this the English were out of money and signed a truce (Lace 33). During this truce civil war was taking place in Brittany over its countship.

King Philips niece Jeanne of Blois, and John of Montfort both claimed the countship. John fled to England and acknowledged Edward as the king of France in exchange for his support. In 1342 Edward began a chevauchee with 12,000 men, but Pope Benedict intervened in 1343 and persuaded Philip and Edward to sign a truce. The countship still stood unresolved though and in 1345 Edward resumed the war catching the French by surprise. Edward had Philips son, John, lead an army against Jeanne and won (Lace 34).

The next major battle was fought at Crecy on August 26, 1346. The French outnumbered the English and fought on horseback. They also wore armor and used lances and hired Genoese crossbowmen to fight for them. The English army was made up mostly of Yeomen on foot that fought with longbows. Crecy also became the first battle to use gunpowder (Miller 305).

Edward strategically placed his army on a hill between a forrest and a river forcing Philip to approach him from only one direction. Philip chased after him but was tired and decided to rest. Late in the afternoon Philip realized this was his chance and ordered an attack. He ordered the hired Genoese crossbowmen to proceed in front of the army. They did, but the English began to fire back.

The crossbowman attempted to retreat and ran back toward the Frenchmen. Philip ordered his army to shoot them and the French then charged the English army. Many were killed by the English men at arms who were on foot and armed with axes and swords. The French ended up charging the English 16 times before Philip realized that only 60 of his troops remained. He then retreated to his castle (Lace 37). The English did not realize the extent of their victory until the next morning.

When the count was taken the English had lost fewer than 100 men, but the French had lost more than 10,000 common soldiers and more than 1,500 knights and nobles including King John of Bohemia, the Duke of Lorraine, the Duke of Alencon, and the Count of Flanders (38). The next major battle was at Calais on August 3,1347 (Miller 1). Edward tried to siege calais, but Jeanne de Vienne, the citys commander, held out in hopes that Edward would retreat to England in the winter. Edward did not. Instead Edward built log huts to live in outside the city walls.

To support his troops financially he set up a market and sold supplies to local farmers. While in France Edward heard about an attempted invasion by King David of Scotland. It was unsuccesful and David was captured at Nevilles Cross. Calais was begining to run out of food because the city was surrounded (Lace 39). In early 1347 Vienne sent out 500 people because he was no longer able to feed them.

The English would not let them through though. Philip eventually showed up to defend Calais in July. Philip sent Edward a challenge, but edward refused because he felt he had the city secured. Philip then left the town to its own fate. The next day Jeanne de Vienne rode out of town giving up his sword and the keys to the city (Lace 40).

Between the years of 1348 and 1350 the Balck death invaded Europe. This horrible disease was spread by infected rats and fleas and killed 1/4 to 1/3 of the population of Europe. Although the disease was most commonly found among the poor in over populated cities Edward IIIs daughterJoan died from it in Bordeaux. This caused a huge deficit in soldiers and caused the war to come to a stand still for five years (Lace 41). In 1349 a plot to retake Calais was discovered.

The force was quickly put down by a small English army. In 1350 Edward led an English fleet against the spanish from Castille and won. This would be edwards last victory and major battle. He turned over his powers to his son Edward the Black Prince just two weeks before Philip of Valois died (Lace 42). Book Reports.