French Peasants in the Hundred Years War

The Hundred Years War was fought on French soil. What effects did this have on the lives of the rural French communities?

Map of France in 1435There is a memorable scene in Emile Zola's La Terre in which a Bonapartist propaganda leaflet entitled The Misfortunes and Triumph of Jacques Bonhomme is read to a hushed audience of peasants assembled on a winter's evening in the Fouan's cow-shed. The leaflet highlights the contrast between the peasants' condition in the post-revolutionary era and that which preceded it, with the Middle Ages coming in for a particularly heavy blast: when feudal wars were responsible for the burning of their cottages, the destruction of their crops, and their own capture as part of the loot, and when companies of freebooters left nothing but wasteland and death in their wake.

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