1 The Hundred Years' War was a long series of conflicts between England and France. In a way it was the big finale to the fighting that had gone on throughout the whole Middle Ages as one tribe after another tried to invade and rule various parts of Europe.
2 Before the beginning of the Hundred Years' War, the Vikings had conquered a large part of France and named it Normandy; then the Vikings from Normandy (France) had conquered England. Then, the Anglo-Normans (the Normandy Vikings who now ruled England) had re-conquered Normandy. Then, France had taken Normandy back.
3 Now, England wanted France back. Isabella, the mother of King Edward III, especially wanted it back, since she had big plans for her son to rule a kingdom that combined England and France. Since the king of France had just died, leaving no successor, Isabella claimed that her son Edward III should be king of France. Of course, France objected, and that was the beginning of the Hundred Years' War.
4 The war began in 1337, and for about the first 25 years, England was winning. Then, around 1360, the tide turned and France started to drive the English out. For about 40 years, France was winning. Then, in 1400, the English under their new ruler, King Henry V, began winning victories. After about 30 more years, the tide turned once again, and France became an independent country. In 1453, over 100 years after it started, the war ended.
5 The Hundred Years' War was important in history for a number of reasons. It changed the way that wars were fought, and even the way of life, in Europe.
6 One of the changes began with a suit of armor. A new type of armor made of solid metal plates came into use during the Hundred Years' War. This new plate armor gave knights better protection from traditional weapons. New types of weapons, such as the giant longswords and longbows were developed to meet the challenge. Cannons and gunpowder, developed earlier in Asia, came into military use in Europe during this time too. The result of all of these changes in weaponry was that traditional fighting forces of knights, and their traditional code of chivalry, began to be outdated.
7 Larger fighting forces were needed to fight this new type of war. So, both England and France developed standing armies, military forces ready to move out at any time. Other European countries followed suit, and soon the kingdoms of Europe began to resemble the countries of modern Europe, with government structures that could support armies and other institutions.
8 As modern governments grew, the feudal system of medieval Europe declined. Nobles and knights no longer wielded the power that they once did.
9 The Hundred Years' War brought about lasting changes for England, the country that started the war, too. At the war's end, England was no longer powerful on the continent of Europe. Not inclined to sit back and do nothing, England turned its attentions elsewhere. As an island country, it had long ago developed power on the seas. Now, England once again turned its attention outward, farther across the water than just Europe. In future years, it would become a great colonial power with colonies around the globe.
10 With all of the changes that had taken place during the Hundred Years' War, the Middle Ages were coming to an end. Europe was moving forward into a new era.