Military History Hundred Years War
John D. Hosler
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 July 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 April 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791279-0104


Along with the Crusades, the Hundred Years War (1337–1453) is probably the most-researched area of medieval military history today. The extant information on the war is vast and often complex in nature, thus constituting both challenges and opportunities for those seeking to mine it; moreover, much of the data is still underutilized, lying dormant in European archives. The operational and technical detail relating to warfare within the evidence is specific and abundant. Unlike other periods in the Middle Ages, for which information can often be sparse, the historian studying the Hundred Years War is blessed with a level of detail that is unmatched. The result has been an explosion in scholarship on the warfare of the 14th and 15th centuries, and while many stones remain unturned they are gradually dwindling in number. Oxford Bibliographies has already published one article: the Hundred Years’ War. Written by Clifford Rogers for Oxford Bibliographies Online in the subject field of Renaissance and Reformation, it is an excellent introduction to the major facets and context of the conflict. The present article was designed with a narrower focus in mind. While some of the citations from the article by Rogers do reappear here, this article attempts to approach the subject from angles that speak primarily to the violent aspects of the war rather than the political. While good biographies of leaders may, therefore, go unmentioned, more obscure books centering on that leader’s generalship are included. Besides the overviews, textbooks, and encyclopedias, the citations here can be grouped thematically into four general categories: generalship, military actions, aspects of armies, and consequences of war. England and France, as the main combatants of the war, receive their own categories in some cases, while peripheral areas (in a geographic, not historical, sense) such as Burgundy, Gascony, and Spain are grouped together for convenience. The well-known battles such as Crécy are, of course, included, but they are accompanied in other places by lesser-known events like Aljubarrota. In addition, some attention has been paid to issues of military technology and the question of the so-called medieval military revolution, two areas of study that have lately reinvigorated the field.

General Overviews

A large number of available books cover the span of the Hundred Years War in either narrative, thematic, or topical format. Many of these are now outdated in regard to current thinking on medieval warfare; some also tend to overly glamorize one particular side, and others contain hints of patriotism that work to reduce their persuasiveness. More balanced treatments exist today. Curry 2003 is a sound starting point. The author’s considerable research efforts on the dimensions of 14th-century and especially 15th-century English armies clearly inform the work, which is not actually intended as a strict military history. Contamine 2010 is shorter and pays heavy attention to the central Anglo-French aspects of the war, but it offers conclusions that are based on the author’s extensive and learned past publications. Allmand 1998 provides an array of basic sources necessary for understanding both the war and the attitudes toward military affairs in the period. Sumption 1999 is an erudite close study of the war and its context that has been broadly and well received. This volume and the author’s later works divide the war into smaller chronological periods. His effort to offer a balanced treatment of English and French affairs is evident throughout. Each volume is available in paperback and has been printed in large numbers. Each is, therefore, extremely accessible.

  • Allmand, Christopher. Society at War: The Experience of England and France during the Hundred Years War. 2d ed. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 1998.

    A document-based approach to the war in which brief introductions to subjects are followed by pertinent primary sources. Various aspects of military affairs are included: the conduct of war, attitudes toward and against violence, the benefits and costs of war, and diplomacy and the securing of peace.

  • Contamine, Philippe. La guerre de cent ans. 9th ed. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2010.

    The best introduction to the subject in the French language, it is a short overview of the war covering its origins, course, and consequences. Learned but written for a general audience, with scarce footnotes and an extremely brief bibliography.

  • Curry, Anne. The Hundred Years War. 2d ed. New York: St. Martin’s, 2003.

    An introduction to international relations and the diplomacy of the war, revised to take into account an array of military studies published in the 1990s. Brief but authoritative, it also includes a collection of maps and genealogies helpful to newcomers to the subject.

  • Sumption, Jonathan. The Hundred Years War. Vol. 1, Trial by Battle. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999.

    Continued in Volume 2, Trial by Fire (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001), and Volume 3, Divided Houses (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011). A systematic, detailed, and ongoing narrative crawl through the war. Emphasis is on battles, commanders, and the effect of war upon towns and landscapes. The volumes cover the years 1328–1347, 1347–1369, and 1369–1393, respectively; forthcoming volumes will presumably cover the rest of the conflict.

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