Skip to Content

18 Thought-Provoking Facts About the Hundred Years’ War

18 Thought-Provoking Facts About the Hundred Years’ War

Sharing is caring!


Image by Daderot on Wikicommons

Years before the start of the most protracted conflict in European history, France and England already had a continuous rivalry. Issues over land, titles, and claims to the throne threw the countries into several battles that coincided with some of the most significant events in History.

Near the end of the Middle Ages, a chain of events led to a century of war that forever changed French and British society. If you think facts about the Cold War are intriguing, imagine over a hundred years of violent battles. 

Without further ado, welcome to the Hundred Years’ War.

18 Facts About the Hundred Years’ War

Generations of kings came and went through this era with only one goal: control of the French throne. If you’re ready to delve into the complicated history of Europe, and learn some interesting facts about the Hundred Years’ War, keep reading.

1. The Hundred Years’ War Lasted 116 Years

The “Hundred Years’ War” is a name coined by historians from the early 19th century. The title encapsulates an era characterized by sporadic conflict and moments of peace between significant battles.

The name helps identify a series of intertwined events during the Middle Ages spread across 116 years. The Hundred Years’ War saw many historic events besides the on-and-off conflict between France and England.


Image by Annie Hara from Pixabay

2.  A Dispute Over Feudal Rights in Gascony Started it All

The dispute was a bit more complicated than that. King Edward III was Duke of France’s English-held Gascony or Aquitaine region. Under the rules of medieval feudalism, Edward was subordinate to the French King Philip VI.

Gascony was an important trading partner for England. So when Philip VI claimed Gascony and proceeded to raid the south coast of England the following year, Edward staked his claim to the French throne in 1337.

After the destruction of Gascony and the loss of vital trading lines, Edward waged war on France.

3. Within the 116 Years of War, There Were Three Main Phases

Historians divided the 116 years into three phases. Namely, The Edwardian War (1337-1360), The Caroline War (1369-1389), and The Lancastrian War (1415-1453). They did this for a few reasons. The first is to highlight some key players in the war, Edward III, Charles V, and the House of Lancaster.

The second reason is to highlight that there were moments of peace between France and England during the conflict. Finally, the three phases are presented as separate moments of conflict to highlight how long the war was.


Image by Rama on Wikicommons

4. The First Battle Happened in 1340

King Edward III formally assumed the title of King of England and France in 1340. That same year, the first battle of the Hundred Years’ War transpired.

The Battle of Sluys was a naval engagement in which Edward III jousted with a French fleet attempting to invade England. Outnumbered by over 200 ships, Edward III began ramming his boat into the French fleet.

He successfully sank a few boats, including his own, and regained control of the waterways between England and France.


Image by Ian Wilson from Pixabay

5. England Shocked France by Using the Longbow at the Battle of Crécy

If you thought boat jousting was riveting, the first land battle between England and France would shock you. The Battle of Crécy (1346) should’ve been a win for France. The French greatly outnumbered England and were said to be incredibly skilled in warfare.

However, that didn’t happen when the French vanguard attacked with no plan. England struck back after repeated cavalry charges and overall disorganization on France’s part.

The French had failed to whittle down England’s defenses and were finally defeated by a mass of longbowmen. The archers used the weapon with such speed and force, England ultimately decimated the French troops.


Image by Espanto MX on Pexels 

6. The Black Death Interrupted the War for Seven Years

After the Battle of Crécy, Edward immediately went to lay siege to Calais in 1347. This was a vital point in France as it had the shortest distance between the countries via boat.

However, immediately after all of England’s victories, the Black Death became the scourge of Europe. The bubonic plague killed over a third of Europe, and the epidemic lasted from 1346 to roughly 1353. This halted major battles between England and France as they had to focus on their crumbling societies.

In city square, Leeds
In city square, Leeds

Image by Marcusmacaulay on Wikicommons

7. England Used the Chevauchée to Their Advantage

The chevauchée was a military tactic commonly used in the Edwardian War. This raiding technique became a common feature of the English campaigns in the war.

It was an organized fast-moving raid that destroyed communities to weaken an opponent. Raiders would burn crops and buildings, steal loot, and deplete resources while saving money for future campaigns.

Edward III’s son, Prince Edward, led a brutal cheavauchée, raiding Gascony and taking Bordeaux between 1355-1356.


Image by Alonso de Mendoza on Wikicommons

You might enjoy reading my article on Facts about World War One.

8. The Black Prince Captured John II at the Battle of Poitiers (1356)

The Black Prince led a raiding party into France shortly after the end of the Black Death. The new king, John II, followed, and outside Poitiers, the French, and English troops attacked each other.

The battle ended in disaster for the French. King John II was captured along with around 2000 members of the aristocracy. They were brought back to England, and Edward demanded a massive ransom for his return. John II was held captive for four years.

9. The Treaty of Bretigny Lasted for Nine Years

King Edward III attempted to take the French throne once again without a king to rule France. You might imagine this would be successful as England had France in its grip, but this wasn’t the case. Edward tried to enter the city of Rheims to get officially crowned in 1359, but he failed.

Instead, England and France went into peace talks, and the Treaty of Bretigny was signed. This treaty paid England a handsome sum of three million crowns for King John’s ransom. It also gave England more land in Aquitaine, fully independent from France. However, Edward had to renounce his claim to the French throne.


Image by Alonso de Mendoza on Wikicommons

10. The Peasants Revolt of 1381 Happened During this Time

During the Caroline phase of the war, English peasants revolted in 1381 against the poll tax. The revolt was led by Wat Tyler, who died during the uprising. Tyler and the English peasantry demanded changes be made around tax, low pay, and improvements in peasant rights.

The current English king of the time, Richard II, pretended to agree to the peasant’s demands but ultimately ignored them. Instead, he sent soldiers to gather and execute the rebels. Serfdom wasn’t abolished then, but rules were relaxed, giving peasants more freedom.


Image by Tangopaso on Wikicommons

11. King Charles VI Went Mad During the War

After his father’s death, Charles V, Charles VI was crowned king of France in 1380 at the age of 11. Charles VI was known as the “Well-Beloved” king until his mid-twenties when he began to experience psychosis.

He would endure bouts of psychosis that would recur until his death. Instances were noted when he would howl like a wolf and suffered delusions that he was made of glass. Due to his mental illness, he was later renamed Charles the Mad. Historians today believe he was likely suffering from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.


Image by Ctac on Wikicommons

12. The English Won at the Battle of Agincourt (1415)

After seizing Harfleur, King Henry V attempted to return to England through Calais. The French army managed to block Henry V and his soldiers on the way to Calais. Henry used a narrow area surrounded by woodlands to give his soldiers a fighting chance.

Once again, England’s smaller army would use the longbow to decimate France’s considerably larger army. The French knights would attempt to attack in three lines, but due to their heavy armor, they literally got stuck in the mud.

England used this to their advantage, and the battle ended swiftly with Henry V’s win, later immortalized by Shakespeare in his play Henry V.


Image from Archives Nationales on Wikicommons

13. The Treaty of Troyes Lasted About Four Years

The Treaty of Troyes was Henry V’s final victory against France. Through the treaty, he was finally accepted as the heir to the French throne in 1420. Charles VI had to agree to Henry’s succession to the throne after his death.

Unfortunately, Henry V died just before Charles VI in 1422, leaving nine-month-old Henry VI to become king of both England and France. Due to the shaky political climate, the war started again with the Battle of Verneuil in 1424.

statue-of-joan-of-arc facts about the hundred years war

Image by Jeangagnon on Wikicommons

14. Joan of Arc Was an Important Figure in the Siege of Orléans

At 13, a peasant girl received a vision from God that she was to bring France to victory against England. Her vision saw her ensuring Charles VII got crowned at the traditional site of Rheims.

Joan of Arc would later arrive at Charles VII’s court and lead a relief force into the Siege of Orléans. In May 1429, she led her fleet of 200 men into a successful battle against England. England abandoned the siege, and France regained a military advantage.

Joan of Arc*oil on panel*52.7 x 45.7 cm*signed t.r.: 1882
Joan of Arc *oil on panel *52.7 x 45.7 cm *signed t.r.: 1882

Image by Jan Arkesteijn on Wikicommons

15. Joan of Arc Was Burned at the Stake

Joan of Arc’s claimed visions from God, which reignited the faith of the French people, also led to her demise. After her success in the Siege of Orléans, Charles VI was crowned king at Rheims in July as she envisioned.

However, in 1430 she was captured by Burgundian allies and sold to the English. While in custody, she stood by her claims of divine revelations. England decided that if she were serving God and telling the truth, that would mean God was on the side of the French.

She was convicted of being a heretic and burnt at the stake in 1431. Later, she was pardoned and became a saint of France.


Image by Pat.s.baker62 on Wikicommons

16. The Battle of Castillon was the Last Battle of the Hundred Years’ War

The final Hundred Years’ War battle saw the English attempt to relieve a French siege on Castillon. Led by the Earl of Shrewsbury, English troops arrived at Castillon to find a fortified cannon artillery park.

The French attacked the English, shooting the Earl in the head and killing him. The French won and took Castillon and Bordeaux back, ending the Hundred Years’ War.

17. In the End, England Lost All Its Territory Except Calais

The successes of the French army and Joan of Arc won back Orléans and Rheims. After the final battles and the war’s end in 1453, France recovered various territories occupied by the British.

Almost every piece of land the British managed to occupy in 116 years of war was taken back by France. Except for Calais, which would remain in English possession for 200 years.


Image by Pohled 111 on Wikicommons

18. The Wars of the Roses Began Merely Two Years Later

A consequence of 116 years of war is that things at home weren’t going well for the English. England had to contend with a decline in trade and social unrest due to the extreme taxes paid toward the war.

England was virtually bankrupt after the failure of the war. Henry VI was deemed unfit to rule due to these failures and his mental illness. This led to a dynastic battle between nobles of England called the Wars of the Roses.

Interested in a battle where England wins? Check out facts about the Battle of Somme for a breakdown of one of the bloodiest battles of World War I.

New Interesting Facts Checker

At New Interesting Facts, we have an editorial policy and a 3 step review process to ensure we get our facts straight. However, we are a very small team, and we sometimes get it wrong, or information becomes outdated. Please let us know if you think we’ve gotten something wrong.


Like this post? Why not share it?

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!