The Hundred Years’ War was a series of conflicts between the English and the French in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries that still looms large in the English and French psyches, cementing a generations-long rivalry between the two nations. The Hundred Years’ War, surprisingly, lasted 116 years and was a war for the control of France and the possession of the French throne.
This bloody series of conflicts finds its origins in the rivalry between Edward III of England and Phillip VI of France. After Charles IV of France died without a direct heir, France was thrown into the depths of a succession crisis. Both Edward and Phillip claimed the throne. However, Edward was denied the throne as ancient French Salic Law prevented him from inheriting the throne through his mother, Isabella of France, as a woman was unable to pass a right that she didn’t possess.
In 1329, Edward III was required to pay homage to Phillip VI for his French lands. However, Edward did not respect or acknowledge Phillip’s position as king and wore his crown to the homage ceremony, which angered Phillip. Tensions between the two kings continued to rise over the next decade, as Edward granted protection to Robert of Artois from Phillip, breaking his oath of homage to protect and support the French King. Edward’s protection of Robert is cited as a major cause of the start of the war, as it has been called the ‘final straw’ for Phillip. In response to Edward’s harbouring Robert of Artois, Phillip confiscated Aquitaine in 1337, which represented the ‘final straw’ for Edward. However, despite having his land confiscated, Edward continued to act as Aquitaine’s ruler, issuing protection to his French subjects such as Thomas de Banvilla in 1338. Edward continuing to act as ruler further cemented the idea that Edward did not respect Phillip’s position as king, his decisions to confiscate his lands, or his authority over him as French Duke and King of England.