Hundred Years' War

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    Year 78

    (The) war was called the Hundred Years' War, because the troops signed on for a hundred years or the duration.
    W. C. Sellar & R. J. Yeatman: "1066 and All That"

    The Hundred Years War (in French, La Guerre de Cent Ans) was a 116-year period of conflict (of which 79 were active periods of war) between The House of Plantagenet who ruled England, Ireland, Wales and much of French territory, and France's House of Valois, who owned what was the remainder of the lands. Traditionally set between 1337 and 1453, although the peace was really acknowledged with the Treaty of Picquigny (1475).

    The conflict was a large-scale Succession Crisis, which came about after the death of the last French Capetian king, Charles IV the Fair. Contrary to common belief, Edward III and his successors didn't want to rule France; they were willing to set aside their claims at any time if the French kings acknowledged their overlordship in Aquitaine (their main source of salt and Bordeaux wine).

    The war was split into multiple periods and offshoots, and saw knights from both sides make a name for themselves, including England's Prince Edward, aka The Black Prince, and later France's Jeanne d'Arc, as well as many major battles, including Sluys, Agincourt, Orleans and Castillon. The conflict also saw multiple Crowning Moments of Awesome (some usually involving the aforementioned Black Prince or Jeanne d'Arc).

    The war ended with the majority of the English being forced out of France. However, 100 years of war, pillaging, epidemics and famine had reduced France to a third of its pre-war population. England became an island nation again since before the Norman Invasion, which affected its outlook and development for the rest of the millennium. But first, it had to deal with the Wars of the Roses.


    Tropes concerning the Period include:
    • Action Girl: Jeanne d'Arc.
    • Badass: It's to be expected. Quickly: the Black Prince, Henry V, Bertrand du Guesclin, Jeanne d'Arc, the Bastard of Orléans (Count of Dunois), La Hire (Étienne de Vignolles). John Talbot, nicknamed the "English Achilles", deserves a mention: he was still fighting at age 69. John of Bohemia also fought at the Battle of Crécy at fifty years old, while blind in one eye.
    • BFG Jean Bureau's siege artillery.
    • Bling of War: Heraldry, in general, which was not only bling but also had function of distinguishing between friends and enemies. Also the English Order of the Garter, its French imitation, the Order of the Star, and the Burgundian Order of the Golden Fleece were instituted during this war.
    • Briefer Than They Think: Jeanne d'Arc first saw King Charles VII in February 1429 and was captured by the Burgundians in May 1430, so her active involvement in the war lasted little over a year.
    • A Child Shall Lead Them: Richard II (aged 4) and Henry VI (9 months) of England; Charles VI the Mad (aged 11) of France.
    • Civil War: 1407-1435, the Armagnac-Burgundian Civil War (Guerre des Armagnacs et Bourguignons) for France (and no, it's not between brandy-lovers fighting wine connoisseurs). It originates in the assassination of Louis d'Orléans, the younger brother of the king Charles VI, on behalf of Duke of Burgundy John the Fearless.
      • Also Etienne Marcel's rising in Paris after Poitiers, the Peasants' Revolt in England and the Praguerie.
      • Given that the Plantagenets were a French family, the entire war could be viewed as a French Civil War that one side was able to rope England into.
    • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Charles VII of France was a spindly neurotic whose own mother claimed he was a bastard, and had a deathly fear of wooden floors after the floor of an overcrowded inn collapsed on him, and bridges after he saw John the Fearless murdered on one. Despised by virtually everyone, for much of his early reign he was taken advantage of by a succession of "favorites" who would use the borrowed authority to acquire wealth and power. Thing is, they would also centralize power in France--thinking they'd be the ones to enjoy it--then get killed by the next "favorite", allowing Charles to gradually increase his power while everyone was busy despising him. The end result--by the time the English collapsed into civil war, Charles was the ruler of a powerful, fairly united France, with a large, loyal army. And that resulted in Charles winding up with the nickname "Charles the Victorious". It wasn't exactly Obfuscating Stupidity, as he really was a neurotic mess, but he was a lot smarter than people realized. And his son, Louis XI was even more badass.
    • Les Collaborateurs: Some French people worked for the English. The most infamous is probably Pierre Cauchon, the bishop of Beauvais, who presided over Jeanne d'Arc's unfair trial.
      • To be fair, a lot of them might not have thought of themselves as "French" at the time, but as subjects of their Feudal Overlord. Most European nations had not taken a cohesive form then.
      • Similarly, the "English" kings were largely linguistically and culturally French.
      • Also, many parts of modern day France, such as the Bordeaux region, had been English for over 150 years (see Henry II's father and wife).
    • Cool Sword: The longsword. Knightly longsword could be used single-handedly when fighting on horseback, or two-handed when fighting on foot.
    • Crowning Moment of Awesome: In 1380, the garrison of Châteauneuf-de-Randon promised to surrender the place in two weeks to Bertrand du Guesclin if help did not arrive within that time. In the meantime Bertrand died, but at the appointed time the garrison marched out and the governor deposited the keys of the place on his bier.
      • The Battle of Agincourt is generally considered one for Henry V and the English longbowmen.
    • Curb Stomp Battle: Three of them, Crécy (1346), Poitiers (1356), and Agincourt (1415). French knights charge outnumbered English longbowmen; English fire lots of arrows; French knights die; English rout the French army. But in spite of winning these battles, the English still lost the war.
      • Also Patay (1429), where for once the French knights caught the archers with their pants down and all senior English commanders but one were captured (including the aforementioned John Talbot), and Formigny (1450; the English lost 3774 dead, the French a handful).
    • Darkest Hour: In two parts, for France: crippling defeat at Agincourt (1415), leading to treaty of Troyes (1420). One can argue it became to get better for French when Henry V died before Charles VI the Mad.
    • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Only it was 116 years long war.
    • Faux Action Girl / Technical Pacifist: Jeanne d'Arc claimed at her trial that she never actually killed anybody. She had stated at some point that she "loved [her] banner one hundred times more than her sword" and held her banner in both hands so as to not actually fight.
    • Fisher King: Played with. French king Charles VI became insane and it affected badly his country, leading to a Civil War.
    • Frivolous Lawsuit: A lot of the arguments used by lawyers and theologians to justify their party qualify. For instance, the French rejected Edward III's claim to the French throne by invoking the ancient Salic Law (which however only dealt with the inheritance of property, not royal succession), as well as a court decision from 1316 (which only prevented a woman from actually being France's ruler, not from transmitting the title). A French theologian retroactively declared the murder of the Duke of Orléans justifiable tyrannicide.
      • Fun fact: In the Breton War of Succession, England and France took the exact opposite positions to the ones they took in the main war re male and female succession.
    • Handicapped Badass: King John of Bohemia. Despite he was blind for a decade, he still fought at the frontlines in the Battle of Crécy on the side of the French. It's said that his last words were "Let it never be the case that a Bohemian king runs from a fight."
    • Historical Villain Upgrade: In France: Charles VI the Mad's queen Isabeau of Bavaria for her part in the Treaty of Troyes (1420).
    • Honor Before Reason: Two Johns: King John the Blind of Bohemia fought at Crécy on the French side and was unsurprisingly killed. King John II the Good of was captured at Poitiers (the French call it Maupertuis) and released when in the treaty of Brétigny (1360), he ceded large parts of France and promised a huge ransom, leaving his son, the duke of Anjou, in England as a hostage. When the duke managed to escape before the ransom was fully paid, John II felt duty-bound to return to London himself in 1364, where he died the same year.
      • King John II was only captured at Poitiers because, as a member of the Order of the Star (which he himself had created), he was not allowed to retreat more than four steps in battle.
      • The charge of John II, King of Bohemia, in the battle of Crécy. He was killed along with fifteen knights who escorted him.
    • Jack of All Stats : The English archers. Besides having the legendary longbows, many archers often were well armoured (mail shirt, gambeson or brigandine; some even had plate leg armour) and carried two-handed swords to be used in melee when having exhausted their arrows.
    • Jeanne D'Archetype : The Trope Maker / Trope Namer / Trope Codifier
    • Leeroy Jenkins: The French knights. The Brits used it for their great advantage.
    • Lightning Bruiser : Knights, whether on horseback or on foot
    • Long Runners: Well, duh.
    • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: King Charles the Bad of Navarre, who in the mid-1300s was the third claimant to the French throne (if you allow female succession, he had a better claim than Edward III). Note that it's the people of his own country who nicknamed him so (Carlos el Malo).
      • Etienne de Vignolles, nicknamed "La Hire", which is said to come from English soldiers calling him "la Hire-Dieu" (God's anger).
      • Also the Merciless Parliament (1388) in England.
      • The Black Prince - Edward Plantagenet, Prince of Wales
    • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Knights on both sides were part of the old warrior nobility of Europe, but the English longbowmen beat them both, having been training weekly with one of the most powerful but difficult-to-master weapons in history for at least a century before the war began. It's actually possible to identify the skeletons of longbow archers from their bone spurs and oversized left arms.
    • Pyrrhic Victory: France technically wins by forcing out the English and concluding the conflict with slightly more territory than at the start, but in the process they lost very nearly their entire population.
      • The Great Black Plague (1348) didn't help.
      • Oddly inverted for the English: it was the need to appeal to their common soldiers and unite them against the French that led to their Norman rulers first calling themselves English and speaking English rather than French. If the "English" had won, "England" wouldn't be very English now.
    • Rain of Arrows: The main tactic of the English
    • Right Makes Might: How the Valois liked to interpret Charles VII's transformation from puny "King of Bourges" to mighty "Charles the Victorious". Some historians see the spreading of a kind of "royal theology", that the Valois legitimately were God's chosen etc., as an important factor in their ultimate victory. From that perspective, Jeanne d'Arc was the ultimate embodiment of the success of the spreading this theory.
    • Royally Screwed-Up: The French almost lost when their king, Charles VI, became insane. Later, the English did lose when their king, Henry VI, became insane. Henry VI was Charles VI's grandson. Coincidence? I think not.
      • Averted by Charles' son, Charles VII and his other grandson, Louis XI aka "The Great Spider".
    • Sequel: The Wars of the Roses (1455-1487), which doubles as a spin-off.
      • Some historians classify the global conflicts between France and England from 1688 to 1815 as the "Second Hundred Years' War."
    • Spin-Off: There were five spin-offs: the Breton War of Succession in Brittany, the Castilian Civil War in Spain, the War of the Two Peters (again in Spain), the Crisis of 1383-1385 in Portugal.
    • Succession Crisis: The war began due to the French one, but then the deposition and (probable) murder of Richard II caused one in England as well, which was ultimately settled only at the end of the Wars of the Roses.
    • Tomboy: Jeanne d'Arc.
    • Tragic Mistake: The killing of John the Fearless of Burgundy in 1419. It will likely never be clear if it was a murder ordered by the future Charles VII or an unpremeditated act of his followers (who wanted to avenge the murder of the Duke of Orléans), but the consequences for Charles were disastrous as it drove the Burgundians into the arms of the English. Talleyrand's "It was worse than a crime, it was a blunder" eminently applies.
    • War Is Hell : When you have 100 years of rape, pillage and looting, it is to be expected.
    • The Woobie: Jeanne d'Arc again.

    Works about the Hundred Years War include:

    Film[edit | hide | hide all]

    Literature[edit | hide]

    • La Pucelle ("The Maid") by Voltaire: A burlesque on Joan of Arc.
    • Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, by the Sieur Louis de Conte by Mark Twain: In which the French are the good guys, but just barely. Twain's favorite of his own works.

    Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

    Theatre[edit | hide]

    Video Games[edit | hide]

    Western Animation[edit | hide]

    • An episode of The Simpsons had Lisa as Joan of Arc. The Hundred Years' War was originally called "Operation Speedy Resolution."