Henry's Wars and Shakespeare's Laws: Perspectives on the Law of War in the Later Middle Ages

By Theodor Meron | Go to book overview

3
The War of Rights: Just War -- Jus ad Bellum and Jus in Bello

The Hundred Years War was a war of rights.1 Although the conflict concerned Realpolitik aims of both England and France, and as in most wars 'rights and advantages, principle and interest were mingled . . . it remains that [in the Hundred Years War] it was in terms of right that the . . . arguments [of the adversaries] and their minds were cast'.2 The King of England claimed either the throne of France or his French inheritance to hold in full sovereignty.3 Under Henry V, legalism in negotiations, in propaganda, and in the councils of state, always self-serving and often hypocritical, reached its climax. Henry's war was not only about territory, marriage, and dowry, for through negotiations he could have gained a large measure of his territorial claims, the hand of Charles VI's daughter Catherine, and a very generous dowry. With considerable justification, the French Ambassador (the Archbishop of ) protested before Henry's Chancellor Beaufort that Thistoire ne fournit pas d'exemple d'une fille de roi ou d'empereur qui ait quitté le palais de son pére avec une

____________________
1
The principal causes, though certainly not the only causes of the Hundred Years War ( 1337- 1453) were disputes concerning the feudal relationship between the King of France and his vassal the Duke of Aquitaine (King of England) and the English kings' dynastic claims to the crown of France. In 1328, C harles IV of France died leaving no direct heir. His sister Isabel had married Edward II of England. Their son Edward III, who had ascended to the English throne in 1327, had therefore a claim to succeed his uncle Charles IV as king of France. The French nobility decided, however, to choose as king one of their own, Philip of Valois, rather than Edward. The Hundred Years War broke out in 1337 following abortive negotiations and Philip VI's declaration that because of Edward's disobedience the duchy of Aquitaine was confiscate to the French crown. Christopher Allmand, The Hundred Years War ( 1988), 9-11.
2
Peter S. Lewis, Later Medieval France ( 1968), 42.
3
Ibid. 42-3. For a discussion of the origins of the dynastic dispute, see W. M. Ormrod , The Reign of Edward III ( 1990), 8-10.

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