France and the Valois at the End of the 100 Years War

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  • 0:05 Introduction to the…
  • 1:50 Military and Feudalism
  • 3:43 The Monarchs
  • 5:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.

This lesson focuses on France at the end of The Hundred Years War. It will examine the changes to France in the areas of military tactics, feudalism, and its monarchies. It will also highlight the French monarchs of the time period.

Introduction to the Hundred Years War

Edward III was the half-brother of Charles IV.
Edward III Family Tree

The American Revolution lasted about eight years and brought about the United States of America. The Wars of the Roses lasted longer, about 30 years, and birthed the Tudor Dynasty of England. And then there's the Hundred Years War, which lasted 116 years and increased the power of the House of Valois, France's ruling force from 1363 to 1589. Today we'll be discussing this house and the country of France at the end of the Hundred Years War.

Before we get to France at the close of the war, let's take a look at how the whole thing started. The Hundred Years War began in 1337 as a dispute between England and France over the crown of France. When King Charles IV of France died without a male heir, Edward III of England declared himself King of France.

No matter how he was related to the French crown, the people of France refused to recognize any English king as their ruler. This dispute soon disintegrated into a 116-year war fought on French soil. This war devastated the French lands to the point that history has called it 'Hiroshima in Normandy.' However, in the end, France was left standing. In fact, many historians would say France was even changed for the better in the areas of weaponry, freedom from feudalism, and a rejuvenated Valois monarchy.

Military and Feudalism

France was divided into several feudal regions before the war.
French Feudal Regions Map

To begin, weaponry and military tactics changed drastically during the Hundred Years War. Prior to the war, knight-filled cavalries were the most powerful part of the French army. However, the Hundred Years War saw the introduction of the longbow and foot soldiers to the battlefield. Although these changes first took place on the English side, France was soon to follow.

By the end of the Hundred Years War, the need for the noble knighthood had declined, since any able-bodied man could be armed with longbows or even firearms. This also changed the makeup of armies, going from being dominated by noble lords to common men being paid to fight. This leads up to our second change in France, the freedom from feudalism. Feudalism, a system of government in which land owners held power over their serfs or workers, dominated France before the Hundred Years War. Because feudal lords held such power over their serfs, France was, in many ways, a divided kingdom. Common people depended on and gave their allegiance to their feudal lord rather than their king.

This all changed when military tactics gave the commoners the ability to fight and even get paid for doing so. Many chose to give up their lives on the manor for the life of a mercenary, or a soldier for hire. By the end of the war, these new forces developed into standing armies. Not only could these armies defend their lands from invaders, they could also protect their kings from the internal threat of powerful lords.

As the war waged, the nobility of both countries, but especially France, found their power being turned over to the King. This brings us to the greatest change felt by France after the Hundred Years War, the rejuvenation of the Valois monarchy.

Charles VII issued the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges.
Charles VII

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