The Hundred Years War (1337-1453) was a series of conflicts between England and France (and their various allies) for control over the French throne during the Late Middle Ages. The war started in 1337 as a dispute between Edward III of England (r. 1327-1377) and Philip VI of France (r. 1328-1350). The conflict is generally divided into three phases: the Edwardian War (1337-1360) from the start of the conflict to the Treaty of Brétigny (1360); the Caroline War (1369-1389) from Charles V of France’s (r. 1364-1380) declaration of war against England to the Truce of Leulinghem (1389) between Charles VI of France (r. 1380-1422) and Richard II of England (r. 1377-1399); and the Lancastrian War (1415-1453) from Henry V of England’s (r. 1413-1422) invasion of France (1415) to the French victory against England at the battle of Castillon (1453). England had much success in the first phase, and at the beginning of the third phase, controlling large parts of France. However, in the end, England lost control of all continental possessions, except Calais.
Traditionally, historians have focused on the English victories at the battles of Crécy (1346), Poitiers (1356), and Agincourt (1415), along with the story of Joan of Arc. Older studies include the dated Charles Oman, A History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages, Volume II: 1278-1485 (second edition, 1924), Édouard Perroy, The Hundred Years War (1945, English translation 1951) and Alfred Higgins Burnes’ two-volume military history of the Hundred Years War, The Crécy War (1955) and The Agincourt War (1956). Herbert J. Hewitt’s, The Black Prince’s Expedition of 1355-1357 (1958) and The Organization of War under Edward III, 1338-1362 (1966), Ernest F. Jacob’s, Henry V and the Invasion of France (1947), Christopher Hibbert’s Agincourt (1964), and Alice Buchan’s, Joan of Arc and the Recovery of France (1948) are of interest.
There are several valuable surveys of the conflict. These works include Kenneth Fowler’s The Age of Plantagenet and Valois (1967), Alan Lloyd’s The Hundred Years War (1977), Desmond Seward’s The Hundred Years War: The English in France, 1337-1453 (1978), Christopher Allmand’s The Hundred Years War: England and France at War, c.1300-c.1450 (1988), Robin Neillands’ The Hundred Years War (1990), Anne Curry’s The Hundred Years War (1993, second edition, 2003) and her title in Osprey’s Essential Histories series, The Hundred Years War, 1337-1453 (2002). Kenneth Fowler’s collection of edited essays in The Hundred Years War (1971) addresses several important issues.
Most biographies focus on the English monarchy. W. Mark Ormod has recently published a massive study on Edward III (2012). His son is examined in Richard W. Barber’s Edward, Prince of Wales and Aquitaine: A Biography of the Black Prince (1978) and David Green’s Edward The Black Prince: Power in Medieval Europe (2007). Richard W. Barber, The Life and Campaigns of the Black Prince (1979) examines the primary sources concerning the Black Prince’s military campaigns. Anthony Goodman, John of Gaunt: The Exercise of Princely Power in Fourteenth-Century Europe (1992), Nigel Saul, Richard II (1997), Christopher Allmand, Henry V (1992), Desmond Seward, Henry V as Warlord (1987), Bertram Wolffe, Henry VI (1981), and Ralph A. Griffiths, The Reign of Henry VI: The Exercise of Royal Authority, 1422-1461 (1981) are valuable. For France, one can consult Richard Vernier’s The Flower of Chivalry: Bertrand du Guesclin and the Hundred Years War (2003), Kelly DeVries’ Joan of Arc: A Military Leader (1999), and Malcolm Vale’s Charles VII (1974). The Dukes of Burgundy are covered in Malcolm Vale’s Philip the Bold: The Formation of the Burgundian State (1962), John the Fearless: The Growth of Burgundian Power (1966), and Philip the Good: The Apogee of Burgundy (1970).
The Hundred Years War (1337-1453) continues to fascinate individuals interested in military history in the Late Middle Ages. The last couple of decades have seen the publication of important new studies on various aspects of the conflicts. Malcolm Vale, The Angevin Legacy and the Hundred Years War, 1250-1340 (1990) [later reprinted as The Origins of the Hundred Years War: The Angevin Legacy, 1250-1340 (1996)] addresses the origins of the conflict. Jonathan Sumption’s massive narrative of the Hundred Years War, starting with Trial by Battle (1991), Trial by Fire (1999), and Divided Houses (2009) provides much detail on the conflict from the reign of Edward III to Richard II. Recent military studies include the edited essays by Anne Curry and Michael Hughes, Arms, Armies and Fortifications of the Hundred Years War (1994). Clifford J. Rogers’ The Wars of Edward III: Sources and Interpretations (2000) and War Cruel and Sharp: English Strategy under Edward III, 1327-1360 (2000), Marilyn Livingstone and Morgen Witzel’s The Road to Crécy: The English Invasion of France, 1346 (2005), Andrew Ayton and Philip Preston’s The Battle of Crécy, 1346 (2005), Peter Hoskins’ In the Steps of the Black Prince: The Road to Poitiers, 1355-1356 (2011), David Green’s The Battle of Poitiers 1356 (2002), and Christian Teutsch’s Victory at Poitiers: The Black Prince and the Medieval Art of War (2010) have recent analysis of the wars of Edward III and the Black Prince. David Nicolle is the author of the Osprey Campaign series volumes Crécy 1346: Triumph of the Longbow (2000) and Poitiers 1356: The Capture of a King (2004). Graham Cushway’s Edward III and the War at Sea: The English Navy, 1327-1377 (2011) is an important new study dealing with naval affairs in the fourteenth century.
There are few studies focused on the Caroline War (1369-1389). One can gain much in Sumption’s history. Richard Vernier’s The Flower of Chivalry: Bertrand du Guesclin and the Hundred Years War (2003) and Anthony Goodman’s John of Gaunt: The Exercise of Princely Power in Fourteenth-Century Europe (1992) are notable. David Nicolle’s The Great Chevauchée: John of Gaunt’s Raid on France 1373 (2011) is a recent military study.
The Lancastrian War (1415-1453) still focuses on Henry V of England and the English success at the battle of Agincourt (1415). The Osprey volume Agincourt 1415: Triumph against the Odds (1991) is written by Matthew Bennett. Anne Curry provides Agincourt 1415: Henry V, Sir Thomas Erpingham and the Triumph of the English Archers (2000), The Battle of Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations (2000), and Agincourt: A New History (2005). Another recent take on the battle is Juliet Barker, Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle that Made England (2005). One can examine the demise of Lancastrian power in France in Anthony J. Pollard’s John Talbot and the War in France, 1427-1453 (1983), Juliet Barker’s Conquest: The English Kingdom of France, 1417-1450 (2012), Kelly DeVries’ Joan of Arc: A Military Leader (1999), as well as David Nicolle’s Orléans 1429: France Turns the Tide (2001) and The Fall of English France, 1449-53 (2012).
Historians have recently expanded their exploration of the Hundred Years War to include Spain, Italy, and the Low Countries. Current research on many aspects of the Hundred Years War is presented in two volumes of essays The Hundred Years War: A Wider Focus (2005) and The Hundred Years War: Different Vistas (2008), both edited by L.J. Andrew Villalon and Donald J. Kagay.
As for studies on the armies of the Hundred Years War, one can start with the Osprey Men-at-Arms series, including Christopher Rothero’s Armies of Crécy and Poitiers (1981) and The Armies of Agincourt (1981), David Nicolle’s, French Armies of the Hundred Years War, 1337-1453 (2000), and Paul Knight’s, Henry V and the Conquest of France, 1416-53 (1996). You can delve further into the subject by reading Adrian R. Bell, War and the Soldier in the Fourteenth Century (2004). There is a fine collection of essays in Adrian R. Bell and Anne Curry’s edited volume The Soldier Experience in the Fourteenth Century (2011). John Keegan’s classic study The Face of Battle (1976) examines the experience of the armies at the battle of Agincourt. John Hardy, The Medieval Archer (1985) and Andrew Ayton, Knights and Warhorses: Military Service and the English Aristocracy under Edward III (1994) address important aspects of the Hundred Years War.
Dr William Young
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota