Readings in the Military History of The Hundred Years War (1337-1453)

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

About William Young

Dr William Young is a retired historian with more than 30 years of experience in teaching and research. He has 18 years of teaching experience at the University of North Dakota and Valley City State University. Moreover, he was a historian in the United States Air Force History Program for 15 years. He possesses a doctoral degree in international and military history and master’s degrees in history and international relations. Young is the author of German Diplomatic Relations, 1871-1945 (2006), International Politics and Warfare in the Age of Louis XIV and Peter the Great (2004), and European War and Diplomacy, 1337-1815 (2003). He has also written 42 official Air Force unit histories, two monographs, and other studies. Young is the recipient of many history awards, including three U.S. Air Force Historian of the Year Awards and a U.S. Air Force History Program of the Year Award. He has studied and worked for 13 years overseas in the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Germany, and Saudi Arabia. He has traveled extensively in Europe and the Middle East. His hobbies include collecting and reading history books and attending college ice hockey games.
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6 Responses to Readings in the Military History of The Hundred Years War (1337-1453)

  1. William Young says:

    Reblogged this on Military History.

  2. Dr. Young, this is a superb bibliography on the war and I cannot think of anything to add.

    For folks looking for a second validation on any of these, I can attest that Clifford J. Rogers’ _War Cruel and Sharp_ is more than superb in terms of military analysis. Rogers is grounded in military history and theory, and his analysis of Edward III’s strategy and campaigns is exhaustive from that perspective. Frankly, it is one of the better campaign histories I have read on any period. Couple that book with his _Sources and Interpretations_, and an undergrad or graduate student has the beginnings of a superb work.

    DeVries’ Joan of Arc book was the first of its kind and if you keep digging, you will realize that he is only scratching the surface. Still, while more books on the military Joan have come out since then and I believe we will see many more, DeVries’ book is the best of this focus.

    • Joe Borsato says:

      The only thing I would add would be a more meaty list of articles. I mean, this is a great bibliography but it’s dominated by books. Although books are great, I am a huge fan of the academic article, I think historians can make great points in the more concise essays rather than in long, drawn-out books.

      • William Young says:

        Check out my bibliography lists, including tons of articles, at the top of my main page. I’ve cited books from the Late Middle Ages to and including the Seventeenth Century. The Eighteenth Century will soon be posted as soon as get around to proofreading what I’ve got.

  3. Joseph Bulins says:

    Dr. Young,

    As Scott has already mentioned-this is without a doubt one of the most complete bibliographies of books regarding the Hundred Years War that I have ever seen. Bravo sir!

    If I may, I would also like to add to the list several other sources and narratives that I myself have found to be incredibly helpful with regards to the study of Crecy (1346), Poitiers (1356) and Agincourt/Azincourt (1415).

    Francis Hermia Durham wrote an English history illustrated from original sources 1399-1485 (A. and C. Black, 1902) detailing within in it-primary source descriptions from events within the later period of the Hundred Years War. The Siege of Harfleur (1415) is succinctly described (though the language used is often difficult to comprehend) as well as a detailed account of the Battle of Azincourt (1415).

    Another vital source (though like many primary sources must be cross referenced for accuracy) are the The Chronicles of Enguerrand de Monstrelet which has been translated and published numerous times since the period and until the early 19th century. Monstrelet (b.1400-d.1453) was a French chronicler who wrote to great extent about the events at Agincourt and later about Joan of Arc. Though he was not actually present for the Battle of Agincourt, he did interview numerous eye witnesses and chronicled the tale. Later he wrote a detailed account of Joan of Arc’s interview with Phillip the Good, Duke of Burgundy following her capture. A fantastic source for certain.

    Again Dr. Young, wonderful job on your bibliographic compilation!

    -Joseph Bullins

  4. nick says:

    Clifford Roger’s works are exceptional and I hope that future historians will opt with the military notion of Edward iii’s battle seeking policy

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