Saturday, 17 November 2018

Joan of Arc and the end of the Hundred Years' War (Thursday 22 November)

The Hundred Years' War began in 1337 when the English Plantagenet king Edward III asserted his right to the throne of France. It continued as an intermittent series of conflicts between the Plantagenets and the Valois for 116 years, ending with the French victory at Castillon in 1453.

During these years of conflict the armies of five English kings (Edward III, Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V and Henry VI) faced those of five kings of France (Philip VI, John II, Charles V, Charles VI and Charles VII). Celebrated English victories took place at Crecy (1346), Poitiers (1356) and Agincourt (1415). Henry V sought to unite the two kingdoms in the Treaty of Troyes (1420). By the end of the war the English had lost all their territories in France, except Calais, and were forced to accept that their cause was lost.

In the autumn of 1428 the English under John of Lancaster, uncle of the child king Henry VI, laid siege to the strategically important city of Orleans. The French were in poor spirits and faced defeat in the war. The following spring a seventeen-year-old peasant girl gained access to the crown prince Charles of Valois (later Charles VII) and convinced him to allow her to lead a French army to Orleans. She was Jeanne d'Arc, Joan of Arc. The siege was lifted. It was the turning point of the war.

After Orleans the Hundred Years' War continued for a further 24 years, but the tide had turned and the advantage lay with the French.

Many people would consider the personalities and events of the Hundred Years' War among the most fascinating and exciting in the history of the Late Middle Ages. The Bath branch of the Historical Association is fortunate indeed to welcome as our guide and interpreter on Joan of Arc and the end of the Hundred Years' War Anne Curry, Professor of Medieval History at the University of Southampton and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, President of the Historical Association from 2008 to 2011, and a leading expert on the Hundred Years' War.

Mike Short