The Origins of the Hundred Years War

John Maddicott argues that Edward III's bid for glory in France was motivated by concerns about England's neighbours and trade as well as amour propre for his claim to the throne of Philip of Valois.

At Ghent on January 26th, 1340, Edward III assumed the title of King of France. Although Anglo-French conflict had been an intermittent feature of the Western European scene since 1066, no such grand and presumptuous a challenge to French power had been made by any previous monarch. It was a challenge which was to lead to more than a century of sometimes sporadic but often intensive warfare, punctuated by battles which made English arms famous throughout Christendom. Before the war ended in 1453, with the expulsion of the English from all their French possessions save Calais, the victories of Sluys, Crécy, Poitiers and Agincourt had created an heroic tradition of military success which not even the final disasters of Henry VI's reign could entirely obliterate. At home, the war shaped the course of English affairs for most of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Whether we look at the development of parliament, the growth of the export trade in cloth, the rise of national taxation or the reputations of kings, we shall find that political and economic change often hinged on the progress of the war. In examining its causes we are to a large extent uncovering the roots of English history in the later middle ages.

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