Edward III - The Hundred Years War

Edward III and his claim to the French throne

After the three sons of Philip IV of France died without producing an heir, Edward III believed he had a claim to the French throne. This was because he was the son of Philip's daughter Isabella or France. But under French law (Salic Law) a female was not allowed to inherit the throne ruling out Edward's claim. Instead the French chose Philip of Valois, a nephew of the King Philip IV. In 1328 Philip of Valois became King Philip VI of France. It would be in 1337, nine years later, when Edward renewed his claim to the French throne.

This simplified family tree hopefully illustrates the line of succession.

 Philippe (III, King of France 1270-1285)
   Isabella (of Aragon)
 Philippe (IV, The Fair, King of France 1285-1314)
   Joan (of Champagne) Charles (Count of Valois, Anjou and Maine)   Margaret (of Anjou, m. Charles Valois) 
Isabella (of France, Wife of Edward II)
   Edward (II, King of England 1307-1327)
 Louis (X, The Headstrong, King of France 1314-1316)
 Philippe (V, the Tall, King of France 1316-1322)
 Charles (IV, the Fair, King of France 1322-1328)
 Philippe (VI, King of France 1328-1350)
Edward (III, King of England 1327-1377)


Reign of Edward (III, King of England 1327-1377)

1337 Oct Start of the Hundred Years' War
   Relations between England and France were not good. Philippe VI the French King had sent ships to help the Scots who were attacking English merchant shipping and ports. There was the threat that the French would invade England. Edward III then laid a claim to the French throne. The claim centred on the fact that Isabella, his mother, was the daughter of Philippe IV. All of Philippe IV's sons (John I, Philippe V and Charles IV) had died without passing the French throne onto a son. On his death-bed Charles IV designated Philippe of Valois, his first cousin, as regent. Charles' wife was expecting a child and it was hoped that the child would be a boy. The child was a girl and Philippe of Valois claimed the throne for himself. Edward's claim to the throne was disputed because in French law it was stated that the line of succession could not pass through a female line. Philippe VI then declared that all of the English held lands in France were forfeit. These events were the start of conflict between England and France that would last (on and off) for more than one hundred years.
1338 Qtr 1 French attack English ports
   Philippe used Genoese troops to attack ports on the south coast of England including Southampton, Plymouth, Hastings and Rye. The attacks reached right around the coast as far as Bristol.
Jul Edward invades France
   Edward crossed to Antwerp and attempted an invasion of France.
1339 Mar 12 French attack Jersey
   The French attack Gorey Castle on the island of Jersey but the castle's garrison held out and fought off the invaders.
Mar 23 French plan invasion
   Philippe of France and the Normandy elite planned an invasion of England. Their invasion force consisted of around 20,000 to 25,000 men.
Jul French attack Dover
   A French fleet attacked Dover, Folkestone and Sandwich but they were driven back to France. Boulogne was attacked in revenge.
Sep Edward in Northern France
   With the promised help of the counts of Hainault and Namur Edward took his army into Northern France. The counts changed their minds as they had lands to lose if they fought against Philippe. Edward continued without their help and the English confronted the French at La Fremengerie. The French refused to fight and English, short of supplies, turned back.
1340 Jan 25 Edward declares himself King
   In Ghent (Flanders) Edward declared himself as the true King of France. When he left Flanders for England Philippa remained as assurance that money Edward owed would be paid.
Mar 29 Edward raises taxes
   Parliament agreed to raise taxes so that Edward could fund an army to invade France.
Jun 24 Battle of Sluys
   A naval battle between the English and French. The French tried to prevent the English ships landing at Flanders. The French were defeated by Edward's forces. Edward did not follow up with the advantage.
Sep 25 Treaty of Esplechin
   A peace treaty between Edward III and Philippe VI of France. Edward had large debts and further campaigning was not possible so he accepted that the truce between the two kings was the best course of action. This treaty marks the end of the first section of the Hundred Years War.
1341 Spring Edward raises funds
   To raise funds for further French expeditions Edward had to confront Parliament. Parliament insisted that Edward reconfirmed various ancient charters.
1342 Oct Edward and Brittany
   Edward sailed to Brittany to assist English troops already there. They were supporting Jean de Montfort's claim to be the Duke of Brittany. Philippe, king of France, disputed this claim and supported his own contender to the title. Edward left his eldest son in charge of England while he was away.
Dec Siege of Vannes
   Edward had to control Vannes if he was to hold Brittany and he laid siege to the city. The city did not fall to the English.
1343 Jan Treaty of Malstroit
   After a hard winter without any new gains in France Edward signed a new peace treaty with the French and returned to England.
1346 Jan 1 Edward III orders an invasion fleet
   Edward III gave the order that an invasion fleet should be assembled at Portsmouth harbour.
Jul 5 Edward departs from Southampton
   Edward III's invasion fleet finally left harbour, delayed by bad weather earlier in the year. Estimates of the number of men Edward took with him vary but could have been around 20,000. This would have required hundreds of ships to transport them all.
Jul 12 Edward III lands in Normandy
   Edward's invasion fleet landed on the north west coast of Normandy at Saint-Vaast de la Hougue on the Cotentin Peninsula (also known as the Cherbourg Peninsula). Edward stayed there for several days while the large army came ashore.
Jul 17 Devastation of Normandy
   Edward III's army began their march east across Normandy attacking and destroying French towns as they went. Those towns that did not surrender were shown no mercy and when they fell to the English many of the inhabitants were killed. Other towns surrendered to avoid bloodshed. Many hostages were taken and shipped back to England so that ransom money could be demanded. The English fleet sailed along the coast at the same time destroying French ships and attacking ports os they went.
Aug Edward III crosses the Seine
   Philippe VI had ordered bridges across the Seine to be destroyed so that Edward could not cross the river. Edward marched south towards Paris but at Poissy his engineers managed to repair the bridge. His army crossed the river and turned north.
Aug 26 Battle of Crecy
   Under Edward III, the English forces defeated a superior French army at Crecy. Estimates give the English numbers at around 12,000 and a French contingent at 36,000. The English longbow made its mark in the battle against the armour of the French knights.
Sep 4 Siege of Calais
   Edward III began the siege of Calais that would last for almost a year. The governor of the town was man called Jean de Vienne. Edward demanded that the town should surrender but de Vienne refused, hoping that the town walls would hold the English out until Philippe VI could come to their rescue. The English set up camp around the town and arranged for supplies to be brought from England. Wooden houses were also built to house the soldiers while they waited. Philippa, the Queen even joined her husband at the camp.
1347 Aug Calais captured by the English
   Philippe VI finally arrived at Calais and challenged Edward III to a fight. Edward agreed but instead Philippe withdrew abandoning the town to the English. The governor, Jean de Vienne, had no other option other than to surrender the town to Edward. The town's leaders should have been executed according to siege rules because they refused to surrender when first asked, but Edward spared their lives and they were taken as hostages. The town of Calais was emptied of all its citizens and all their property was confiscated. Edward then made Calais English territory and sent word to England that anyone who wanted to live in Calais was welcome as long as they could get there quickly.
Sep Edward accepts truce
   Edward III accepted a truce with France as the efforts abroad had been exhausting and he returned to England. Edward's popularity was high. He had beaten the French at Crecy and in his absence the Scots had been defeated at Neville's Cross.
1350 John II becomes King of France
   John became king of France after the death of his father Philippe.
1356 Sep 19 Battle of Poitiers
   On Monday the 19th of September the battle of Poitiers took place. Even though the English army was outnumbered the Black Prince used superior tactics in the battle and defeated the French without suffering many losses. John, the French King, was captured along with many other French nobles and taken to Bordeaux.
Oct King John at St. Albans
   King John of France was held prisoner at St. Alban's monastery after being captured at Poitiers.
1360 May Treaty of Bretigny
   The treaty of Bretigny brought a period of peace for nine years during the Hundred Years War. The treaty was arranged between the Black Prince and the dauphin (later Charles V of France) before being approved by Edward III of England and King John of France. As part of the treaty Edward was given control of the areas of Gascony, Calais and Ponthieu as long as he agreed to give up his claim for the French throne. King John, currently being held hostage in England, was to be released on condition of a payment of 3 million gold crowns to by paid in instalments.
Oct Treaty agreed
   At Calais Edward III and King John of France, who had be released from captivity, signed the Treaty of Bretigny.
1362 Jul The Black Prince is given Gascony
   Edward III transferred control of Gascony to his eldest son, the Black Prince. Edward the Black Prince had just married Joan of Kent at Windsor and together they created a magnificent court in Bordeaux.
1364 Charles V becomes King of France
   Charles became king of France after the death of his father John and was crowned at Rheims Cathedral.
1367 Apr 3 Battle of Nájera in Spain
   Edward the Black Prince went to assist Peter the Cruel, King of Castile, who had been driven from his throne by Henry Trastamara. With a combined army of English, Gascons, Navarrese and Castilians the Black Prince won a battle to put Peter back on the thrown. The victory at Nájera also brought the Castilian fleet under control which had been fighting on the side of the French when Trastamara was in power. Peter was later overthrown and the fleet again started fighting on the French side.
1369 Jun 3 Edward III restates claim for French throne
   The English Parliament freed Edward III from the Treaty of Bretigny that was signed in 1360. When Edward signed the treaty he had agreed to give up the claim for the French throne. Now that Edward was free from the treaty he was able to restate and pursue his claim to be the French King.

Reign of Richard (II, King of England 1377-1399)

1377 Jun 21 Edward III Dies
   Edward III, the King of England died in June 1377. One year earlier Edward's eldest son and heir to the throne, Edward the Black Prince died. Richard, the son of the Black Prince, was proclaimed heir to the throne. King Edward was ill for some time before his death, and John of Gaunt another of Edward's sons took the affairs of the nation under his control. Edward was buried in Westminster Abbey in a tomb designed by Henry Yevele.

Medieval Castles


Medieval towns


Medieval villages