In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section The Hundred Years War

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works
  • Encyclopedias and Biographical Reference Works
  • Bibliographies
  • Sources: Studies and Reference Works
  • Primary Source Collections
  • Journals
  • Narratives
  • Collections of Essays: Multiple Authors
  • Collections of Essays: Single Author
  • Origins and War Aims
  • Diplomacy
  • Military Structures and Organization
  • Naval

Renaissance and Reformation The Hundred Years War
Clifford J. Rogers
  • LAST REVIEWED: 10 May 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 10 May 2010
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0059


“The Hundred Years War” is a term invented in the 18th century and popularized by Chrysanthe-Ovide Des Michels’s 1823 tableau chronologique describing the period of conflict between 1337, when Philip VI of France formally confiscated the French possessions of his vassal, Edward III of England, and 1453, when the English attempt to recover Gascony (which had been overrun in 1451) was crushed at the battle of Castillon, leaving the English with no land in France except Calais. The principal immediate causes of the war were conflicts over the degree of sovereignty the English crown would exercise in Scotland and Aquitaine, but by 1340 these issues had become irreversibly intertwined with Edward’s claim that he, rather than Philip, was the rightful heir of Charles IV of France. By the late 19th century, the idea that this prolonged struggle had a basic unity that entitled it to a proper name was solidly entrenched. There has now been well over a century’s worth of scholarly output on the war itself eo nomine, its origins and diplomacy, its battles and campaigns, its devastating effects on France, and so on. Nineteenth-century French historians in particular made many distinguished contributions to the study of the war, many of which are still useful. Throughout the 20th century, numerous prominent historians added important studies to the literature. Because of the bulk of the scholarly work in the field, a large number of older but still important articles and books have had to be omitted from this entry; the bibliographies and notes found in the more recent works cited, however, can guide the reader to them. Societies at war for extended periods cannot but be strongly affected by that fact, and the Hundred Years War both influenced and was influenced by almost every aspect of human life in France, England, and Scotland during its long course. Some of the changes brought on or molded by the war were of the greatest significance for the general development of European history and, ultimately, of world history: The extended struggle was a chief engine of the early development of nationalism and the proto–nation-state, and of the rise of Parliament in England and a strong centralized monarchy in France. Moreover, the war’s developments in military technology (particularly artillery) and military organization provided key foundations for Europe’s rise to global hegemony in the centuries after its conclusion.

Introductory Works

Two of the best introductions to this topic—works combining narrative summaries and thematic studies—are the work of Kenneth Fowler. Fowler 1967, though heavily illustrated in a coffee-table-book format, reflects impressive scholarship, and is especially good on military matters. Fowler 1973 is a “unit” within the Open University textbook on war and society. Though obscure and hard to come by, it can be an excellent starting point for the study of this conflict. Allmand 1988, a short textbook designed for undergraduate history courses, is also very good. See Narratives for introductions to the war in that genre.

  • Allmand, Christopher Thomas. The Hundred Years War: England and France at War, c. 1300– c. 1450. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

    Follows a thirty-one-page summary narrative with sections on intellectual approaches to war; the conduct of war; institutions of war; social change; national sentiment; and literature. A concise introduction to the subject by one of its top scholars, a 15th-century specialist.

  • Fowler, Kenneth Alan. The Age of Plantagenet and Valois: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1328–1498. New York: Putnam, 1967.

    Could have been subtitled “The Hundred Years War.” Divided into four sections: a narrative, a discussion of the military structures and leaders on both sides, a section on “chivalry, war and society,” and another on “court patronage and the arts.” Richly illustrated. Although the text unfortunately lacks endnote numbers, the notes themselves are given at the back of the book.

  • Fowler, Kenneth Alan. “The Hundred Years War.” In The Study of War and Society: Thucydides to the Eighteenth Century. Edited by Arthur Marwick and Open University, War and Society Course Team, 171–210. Bletchley, UK: Open University Press, 1973.

    A gem of concision, covering much of the same ground as Fowler 1967 (with many source quotations) in just forty pages. Intended for self-study, with comprehension questions and sample answers.

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