The History of Medieval Europe

By Lynn Thorndike; James T. Shotwell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVII
THE HUNDRED YEARS WAR

IN the present chapter we continue to follow the history of France and England, considering them together in connection with the so-called "Hundred Years War" between them, and comparing the development of the royal power and national assemblies in the two countries. There is also a certain convenient coincidence in the dates and duration of reigns in the two lands at this time. During the fifty-year reign of Edward III of England there were three French kings, Philip VI, John II, and Charles V. Then the situation was reversed, and during the long reign of Charles VI in France there were three English monarchs, Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V. Finally, the reigns of Charles VII of France and Henry VI of England, which close the Hundred Years War, covered exactly the same years, 1422 to 1461.1 In considering the time of the Hundred Years War, we pass beyond the prime of medieval civilization and enter the later Middle Ages. "We pass, as it were, out of the light and truth of the thirteenth century, that wonderful, if troublous, seedtime of principles and realities, into the gorgeous, chivalrous, unreal, selfish, oppressive, and unprincipled fourteenth."

The period of the Hundred Years War

The Hundred Years War itself, however, is a rather misleading phrase. War between the kings of France and England had been chronic since the Norman conquest, and this so-called Hundred Years War made no important change in the relations between the two lands until its close, when England lost its possessions on the Continent and turned subsequently to the upbuilding of a sea power. We might, therefore, better speak of a four hundred years war from the Norman conquest to the close of the Middle Ages.

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1
The reigns of the next two kings, Louis XI and Edward IV ( 1461-1483) also coincide, but do not come within the scope of the present chapter.

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