The 100 Years’ War and Political Recovery in Europe

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The 100 Years’ War and Political Recovery in Europe (A QAR Activity)

Adapted from Glencoe World History p. 337-340

Plague, economic crisis, and the decline of the Church were added to the list of problems of the late Middle Ages, including war and political instability. The Hundred Years’ War was the most violent struggle during this period. It would leave European leaders struggling to recover following the war. In 1337, the Duke of Glascony, France, was actually the King of England, Edward III. Edward was only 17! However, King Philip VI of France wanted it for himself to increase his power over the French kingdoms and barons. Edward declared war on Philip, beginning the Hundred Years’ War between England and France (1338-1453…more than 100 years).
The Hundred Years’ War was an important turning point in the nature of warfare because it was English peasant foot soldiers, not knights, who won the major battles of the war. English soldiers were armed with new weaponry as well: the longbow, which had greater striking power, longer range, and more rapid speed than the older crossbow.
The first major battle was at Crécy, France, in 1346. The English soundly defeated the French, who fought in a disorderly fashion. However, the English did not have enough resources to conquer all of France; English king Henry V would continue the cause at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. There, heavy-armored French knights tried to attack the English on a muddy field. The weight of the armor sunk them in the mud and they were killed quickly—1,500 nobles died—and the English became masters of northern France.
Charles, heir to the French throne, was not military-minded. When a sixteen year old girl, Joan d’ Arc (Joan of Arc), arrived at his court in February 1429, she told him of her visions and visits from saints that commanded her to free France from England. Charles was persuaded to let her accompany a French army to the city of Orléans. The story goes that the French were inspired by Joan’s faith and perseverance, and found new confidence to strike back against the English. However, Joan was captured in 1430 and was burned at the stake by the English Inquisition on charges of witchcraft (visions could be understood to be the work of either God or the Devil). The French army continued to defeat the English, however, and claimed victory in 1453 with the use of new weaponry introduced by the Chinese—the cannon and gunpowder.
The Hundred Years’ War left Europeans exhausted, but created a strong nationalistic (feeling strongly about one’s country) feeling in England and France against their common enemy. This allowed their kings to reestablish royal power. King Louis XI of France, who ruled from 1461-1483, used the taille, or direct annual tax, to create a continual source of income for the monarchy. The English had a different situation. There, a civil war, known as the War of the Roses (1455-1485) broke out over who would control the monarchy. Henry Tudor (Henry VII) established a new dynasty with a strong royal government, abolishing private armies of the nobles. He reduced taxes for all classes, which gained him popular support.

QAR Practice—Questions

Think of some questions that could be answered from reading the text. Write at least one question under each QAR heading. After each question, write the answer in parenthesis. An example has been given below.





How did the 100 Years’ War change the relationship between England and France? (They were both enemies and wanted the same land; after, they both faced economic, social, and political problems)

Right There: The answer can be found in one place in the text (reread, scan, look for key words)

Think and Search: The answer is in several places in the text (skim, important events)

Author and You: The answer is not in the text. Think about how the things you already know and what is in the text both fit together (reread, predict)

On My Own: The answer is not in the text (think about what you already know, make connections)

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