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The Battle of Agincourt by Enguerrant de Monstrelet[1] (Photo credit: Wikipedia) 


Jeanne d’Arc
Painting, c. 1485. An artist’s interpretation, since the only known direct portrait has not survived. (Centre Historique des Archives Nationales, Paris, AE II 2490)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Although it seems difficult to believe, there was a Jeanne d’Arc (6 January c. 1412 – 30 May 1431). She was born to a peasant family in Domrémy in north-east France, and was directed by the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine to fight the English who claimed France as their realm and lead Charles VII the  Dauphin,[2] to Reims cathedral where he would be crowned King of France.  Kings of France were crowned at Reims cathedral.
Jeanne, or Jehanne, was nicknamed “The Maid of Orléans,” La Pucelle d’Orléans.


The Hundred Years’ War

I have been trying to tell the story of the Hundred Years’ War waged between 1337 and 1453 and must report that it is difficult to fit such a topic in a post.

The Hundred Years’ War opposed the French House of Valois and the English House of Plantagenet, but it was an interrupted war. Basically, it was a war of succession. Eleanor of Aquitaine had married English King Edward II, after her marriage to Louis VII of France was annulled. She had failed to produce a heir to the throne of France. Only males could inherit the crown. She did not lose Aquitaine, so her descendants felt they could claim the throne of France.

That’s how the military conflicts began.

[I have read that during the Hundred Years’ War, it was also proposed that William I, Duke of Normandy having conquered Britain at the Battle of Hastings (1066), Britain could claim the French crown.]

Historians divide the Hundred Years’ War into three phases: the Edwardian Era War (1337–1360); the Caroline War (1369–1389), and the Lancastrian War (1415–1453). (See Hundred Years’ War, Wikipedia.)

Edward III was the son of Isabella of France and he was married to Philippa of Hainaut

Phase 1: the Edwardian Wars, 1340 – 1360

In 1337, English monarch Edward III claimed he was heir to the French crown as the grandson of Philip IV of France. His mother, Isabella of France, was the daughter of King Philip IV. His son, Edward the Black Prince, was the great-grandson of Philip IV of France.

Three battles were fought regarding this claim. Edward III fought the Battle of Sluys, a sea battle, on 24 June 1340. It was an English victory. Six years later, on 26 August 1346, he fought the Battle of Crécy,  which was also an English victory. On 19 September 1356,  Edward, the Black Prince, Edward III’s son, fought the Battle of Poitiers. It was also an English victory, but the war was not over. It had just begun.

The Black Death

The Battle of Crécy was followed by the Black Death. The Black Death, the plague, was a pandemics that took the life of an estimated 75 to 200 million Europeans. Poland was spared. The Black Death peaked in the years 1346-1353. (See Black Death, Wikipedia.)

There were other battles, which I must leave aside.

Battle of Sluys, Chroniques de Jean Froissart
Battle of Crécy, Chroniques de Jean Froissart
Edward, the Black Prince
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Phase 2: the Caroline War, c. 1369 – 1389

  • Charles VI, of France (crowned in 1380)
  • regents: the Burgundians
  • Charles VI dismisses the Burgundians (1388)
  • truce declared in 1389

During the Caroline War, French King Charles VI (3 December 1368 – 21 October 1422) opposed the Burgundian Dukes. Charles VI of France was 11 years old when his father died (1380). The Dukes of Burgundy therefore ruled France. They were extremely powerful and wanted to reign. In 1388, Charles VI dismissed them all, which was humiliating.


However, in 1392, Charles VI went mad. He nearly killed his brother: Louis I, Duke of Orleans. As of that event, Charles VI the Belovedle Bien-Aimé, was transformed into King Charles le Fol or le Fou, the Mad. He had long periods of sanity and therefore reigned until his death in 1422, two years after he signed the Treaty of Troyes, discussed below.

1407 – 1435 (Louis d’Orléans is assassinated by a Burgundian = a civil war)

Finally, in 1407, Louis I, Duke of Orleans, a profligate ‘prince of the blood,’ or possible heir to the kingdom of France, was assassinated by John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, the event that triggered the Armagnac-Burgundian Civil War. The Armagnac-Burgundian Civil War erupted in 1407 and lasted until 1435: 28 years. The Armagnacs were loyal to the House of Valois (Charles VI). When Joan of Arc saved France (1429), the Burgundians fought for England, or the House of Plantagenet, but Scottish troops supported the Armagnacs, the French House of Valois.

 Assassination of Louis I, Duke of Orleans (1409)
Assassination of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy (1419)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Valentine of Milan weeping for the death of her husband, Louis of Orléans by Fleury-François Richard (c. 1802) Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Phase 3: The Lancastrian Wars, 1415 – 1453

Joan of Arc was active in 1428 – 1429, during the Lancastrian Wars (1415 – 1453), named after John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford. The war continued to oppose members of the French House of Valois and English House of Plantagenet, but the Siege of Orleans, Jeanne d’Arc’s victory, destroyed the English Kings’ hope to reign over France, but claims did not end. The matter of succession was contentious.


Emboldened by the death, by assassination, of Louis I, Duke of Orleans and by the illness of Charles VI (3 December 1368 – 21 October 1422), King Henry V of England attacked the French at Azincourt (Agincourt). Charles VI, pictured below, did not participate in the Battle of Agincourt, nor did his 12 year-old son, the future Charles VII (22 February 1403 – 22 July 1461). The Battle of Agincourt (25 October 1415), was a decisive English victory. Charles VI avoided capture. However, Charles Duke of Orleans (24 November 1394 – 5 January 1465), was taken into captivity. He was the son of Louis I, Duke of Orleans, an assassinated prince.


 Charles VI by le Maître de Boucicault
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Treaty of Troyes  

Our starting-point could be the Treaty of Troyes. In 1420, five years after the Battle of Agincourt (25 October 1415), an English victory, French Charles VI (3 December 1368 – 21 October 1422), disinherited his son, Charles VII, and consented to the marriage of his daughter, Catherine de Valois, to Henry V, King of England.

Catherine gave birth to a son, the future King Henry VI of England and France, on 6 December 1421. English King Henry VI never saw his son. He was on a campaign in France and died of dysentery, in 1422. Therefore, when Henry V died, in 1422, Henry VI (b.1421), still an infant, was heir to the throne of France.

Nothing so defies logic as the Treaty of Troyes (1420). French King Charles VI disinherited his son Charles VII, the rightful heir. Henry V, King of England would inherit the French throne and he had a son, Philip VI.

The King of France himself, King Charles VI, gave France to the English in what must have been a moment of delusion. Hence the great pity the Archangel Michael asked Joan of Arc to end. In the eyes of the French, Charles VII was King of France by right of primogeniture, the firstborn, but he had not been crowned and Henry VI of England had been made heir to the kingdom of France. John Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford, hence the Lancastrian wars, acted as regent of France for his nephew, King Henry VI.

Siege of Orleans
(Photo credit: Wikipedia & Royaume de France)

The Siege of Orleans, a French Victory

  • Siege of Orleans: 12 October 1428 – 8 May 1429
  • Joan of Arc: 22 March 1429 – 8 May 1429

Our story ends with the Siege of Orleans. Given their victory at the Battle of Agincourt and by virtue of the Treaty of Troyes, the British had the upper hand. The Siege began on 12 October 1428 at Orleans, territory belonging to imprisoned Charles, Duke of Orleans. It was a protracted siege, but it was lifted by 8 May 1429.

Jeanne d’Arc entered the Siege late in the conflict, on 22 March 1429, its sixth month, and there were further delays. At first, French officials would not hear her. She was telling a tale that was difficult to believe. She was divinely-ordained to defeat the English and to take Charles VII to Reims. When, at long last, she was allowed to meet the uncrowned King Charles VII, he put own garments that did not suggest he was the King. Yet, she identified him immediately.

The siege of Orleans was lifted by 8 May 1429 and Charles VII was crowned at Reims, on 17 July 1429. Henry VI of England, was crowned King of England on 6 November 1429 and King of France on 16 December 1431, at Notre-Dame de Paris.

Battle of Castillon (1453), a French Victory

The Hundred Years’ War did not end until the Battle of Castillon, fought on 17 July 1453, in Gascony. England lost its landholdings in France, except Calais and the Channel Islands.  It would also lose Calais in 1558. (See Battle of Castillon, Wikipedia.)

However, the war was lost when French King Charles VII was crowned in Reims and France was again a kingdom. Between 1422 and 1429, it had been two kingdoms.

The House of Plantagenet was not able to claim France as its rightful inheritance. The Hundred Years’ War was, to a large extent, a war of succession, but an uncommon war of succession. As unbelievable as it may seem, King Charles VI of France bequeathed France to the King of England, Philip VI, disinheriting his own son, which was treason.

As for Joan of Arc, would that Charles VII, King of  France, had saved her. He may have been a coward.

With my kindest regards.
[1] Enguerrand de Monstrelet 

[2] The heir to the throne of France was called the Dauphin (dolphin).


Medieval Warfare (Photo credit: Google Images)

© Micheline Walker
16 January 2016