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Tag Archives: Henry VI

The Hundred Years War 1326-1477

Joan of Arc

THE LONG STRUGGLE between France and England, known to history as the Hundred Years’ War, was not really a war — and it lasted more than a hundred years. Rather than a war, it was a series of separate battles, with periods of uneasy peace between and it lasted from 1338 to 1453. It was time of misery for both sides, but the French lost more men and saw much of their land devastated. By the end of the Hundred Years’ War, important changes had taken place in both countries. In France, the years of conflict weakened the power of the nobility and led to the rise of a strong middle class. Warfare would never be the same; the English victories showed that mounted knights, weighed down by heavy armour‚ were no match for archers with longbows and the final battles were decided by artillery. The cause of the war was that the English still held the Duchy of Aquitaine, a rich land in southwestern France and were determined not to lose it. The French were equally determined to drive them out. A further complication was the situation in Flanders. The English sold raw wool to Flemish manufacturers, who wove it into cloth and sold a good part of it back to the English. This trade was important to England and even more so to Flanders and both countries were anxious that nothing should happen to disturb it. The English also kept a watchful eye on the Flemish ports, which could serve as a base for a French attack on England or an English attack on the continent. Flanders was not a completely independent state; its ruler, the Count of Flanders, owed allegiance to the king of France. England tried to destroy the count’s authority by stirring up the Flemish …

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The Crusades 1096-1260

crusade

ON A COLD NOVEMBER DAY IN 1096, a great crowd of people gathered in a field at the town of Clermont in France. They had come from miles around and near them were pitched the tents they had put up for shelter. For some days, Pope Urban II had been holding a great council of cardinals, bishops and princes. Today he was to speak to the people and so many wanted to hear that no building was large enough to hold them all. A platform had been built in the center of the field and as Pope Urban stepped up on it a hush fell over the crowd. Pope Urban was a Frenchman and he spoke to the people around him as fellow Frenchmen. “Oh, race of Franks,” he said, “race beloved and chosen by God . . . set apart from all other nations by the situation of your country as well as by your Catholic faith and the honour which you render to the holy Church: to you our discourse is addressed. . . .” “From the confines of Jerusalem and from Constantinople a grievous report has gone forth that an accursed race, wholly alienated from God, has violently invaded the lands of these Christians and has depopulated them by pillage and fire. They have led away a part of the captives into their own country and a part they have killed by cruel tortures. . .” The people knew what he meant. He was speaking of the Holy Land, that lay on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Here were the cities of Jerusalem, Nazareth, Gaza and Damascus. Here Jesus Christ had lived and preached and had been crucified; here Christianity had begun. Here were many sacred shrines and during the Middle Ages thousands of Europeans …

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