UCL Centre for Holocaust Education

What Hundred Years War?

By challenging the very idea of a continuous Anglo-French medieval war Ian Mortimer reveals the remarkable complexities of a series of distinct conflicts that began with a prophecy and ended with an English dynasty seeking the approval of God.

Battle of ArnemuidenEveryone knows that the Hundred Years War was a protracted series of conflicts between England and France that took place in the 14th and 15th centuries. It was characterised by the claim of the kings of England also to be kings of France by right of inheritance through Isabella of France (c. 1296-1358), mother of Edward III (r. 1327-77) and the last surviving child of Philip the Fair (r. 1285-1314). But while such a description might suffice for an encyclopaedia, it is laden with problems. What did the protagonists seek? Who were the combatants? What did they have in common and what divided them? What gave the war as a whole its integrity? Is the idea of a single ‘war’ anything more than a historiographical myth?

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