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Causes of the 100 Years' War Lesson for Kids

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Instructor: David Wilson

David has taught college history and holds an MA in history.

The 100 Years' War was a long war between English and French kings over France. Learn about the causes of the 100 Years' War, as well as the sources of wealth, Salic Law, and battle strategies that kept the conflict going. Updated: 01/04/2022

100 Years' War

Have any of your family members ever joined the military? Perhaps your parents or grandparents did, and perhaps they even went off to war. Imagine that you had to fight in the same war that your parents and grandparents had - a war that never seemed to end. The 100 Years' War between England and France, which lasted from 1337 to 1453, occurred because both the English and French kings believed they should rule France.

The fighting continued for such a long time because both sides had the armies and money needed to continue the conflict. Some battles were particularly huge: in the battle of Agincourt, about 6,000 English soldiers defeated a much larger French force of about 20,000 soldiers.

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  • 0:04 100 Years' War
  • 0:42 Sources of Wealth
  • 1:07 Cause of the War
  • 1:32 Salic Law
  • 2:00 Battle Strategies
  • 2:28 Lesson Summary
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Sources of Wealth

Back then, England controlled much of the northern region of France, as well as parts of the west and south of the country, all of which grew very wealthy through trade. In particular, southern France grew the grapes needed to make wine that many countries (especially England) enjoyed. In Flanders in the north, the region grew rich from trade. When the French king wanted to bring the area under his control and take its gold, the English backed a rebellion against the French landowners of the region.

Cause of the War

During the fighting in Flanders, the French king Phillip died. King Edward III of England decided to increase the size of his kingdom. Edward's mother had been the daughter of a French king, meaning that he had the ability to inherit, or take control of the throne, under an English law that permitted land to be passed down through mothers. The 100 Years' War was caused by King Edward III's pursuit of the French throne and resulted in five generations of English kings.

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