a) Which historians have specialised in the Hundred Years War ? How have their views developed ? What controversy exists between them ?
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b) What are the main contemporary sources for the history of the War ?
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c) Analyze the primary causes of the war ? Were they (a) feudal (b) dynastic ¸ economic ?
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d) How was the war financed ? What effect did the war have upon the English constitution, particularly Parliament ?
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e) How were the troops raised and organised ? What is meant by 'indentured retinues' ? What was the role of the mercenary soldier ? What problems did this kind of army create ? What is the significance of the Free Companies ?
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f) How was the war fought ? What changes took place in strategy and tactics ? What was the significance of the chevauche and the siege ? Why did the war go on for so long?
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g) What were the war aims of Edward III ? How far were they realised by the terms of the Treaty of Bretigny and the Treaty of Calais 1360 ? Are we justified in thinking that Edward lost the peace ?
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h) How did the conduct of the war change after 1360 ? What effect did this have on English prospects ?
Tracy Kortright ----
During the peace Edward the III had sunk into senile pleasures, and had a greedy mistress. He had also fallen ill with dropsy, as a result he was no longer the war hero he had been at the beginning of the war. In contrast Charles Vth had come to the throne in France. Though Charles was of weak constitution, and was often ill with ulcers, poor circulation and unexplained fevers, he understood the strengths of the English army, and weaknesses of his own. As a result during the peace he along with Du Guesclin (constable of France) implemented five restructuring policies.
  • he paid local lords to defend their regions by creating a militia to fight the free companies. If they failed to do this they were forfeit their lands. 
  • Systematic fortifications. The local towns were fortified, so when the English army approached everyone went inside, and the surrounding land was burnt. The English army therefore had nothing to live on during a siege. 
  • Charles also improved taxes. He streamlined them, and placed a tax on salt 
  • He created a royal professional army, which was directly under his control 
  • He made Generals and Admiral based on their past performance on the field and not because of social rank. 
Charles also built an arsenal, so the towns could be equipped with cannons. This was an advantage the French had over the English, since they could not easily drag Cannons cross the countryside. The French navy was also equipped with them, and was placed under the control of Jean de Vienne (Admiral of the fleet)

When the war resumed the English continued the chevaucher tactics, but with little success since the French army had been forbidden to engage the British in a pitch battle. Also since the French were using guerrilla tactics on the English baggage trains, and a scorched earth policy, it was difficult for the English to live off the land.

The only major battle fought was at sea, in 1372 at La Rochelle, and since the French had use of the whole Castilian fleet the French were victorious.

The English when war resumed was in debt, and the siege tactics that the French were employing was a huge drain on English resources, there were not even any victories to boost moral as there had been in the first phase of the war. The situation only got worse when Edward died and the crown passed to Richard II who was young and weak. And by the end of the third phase of the war England had lost everything they had gained at Bretigy except Guyenne and Calais. 



i) What were the war objectives of Henry V ? How did his policy differ from that of Edward III ? To what extent were English war aims satisfied by the Treaty of Troyes, 1420 ?
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j) Why were the English able to win brilliant victories over the French and to overrun the French countryside, and yet were unable to take the kingdom of France ?
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k) What were the principal consequences of the war ? Did any group benefit from the war ?

Using the relevant volume of ENGLISH HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS find, read and annotate the following documents:


JSI /20/10/99

School of History and Welsh History - University of Wales Bangor