In 1355, after a pause in hostilities due to Black Death sweeping across Europe, the war was on again. Edward the Black Prince, son of Edward III, landed at Bordeaux in Western France, and marched his forces through Southern France to Carcassonne. His failure in capturing the walled city, led to the withdrawal of his forces, and back track to Bordeaux.
King John II of France, successor of Philip VI led an army against English forces, commanded by the Duke of Lancaster, who was forced to withdraw to coastal areas. From their King John attacked the Black Prince, whose army advanced north-east towards Loire, pillaging the countryside as they went.
In September of 1356, King John reached Loire, just as the Black Prince, was turning towards Bordeaux. On the 18th September, both forces met at the “Battle of Poitiers.”
Cardinal Talleyrand de Perigord, tried to broker a settlement between these two armies, but it proved impossible. The Black Prince offered return of his booty, and a seven year truce, an offer rejected by King John who wanted nothing less, than out right surrender.
The English army, an experienced force of archer’s and men-at-arms, were commanded by Sir John Chandos, Sir James Audley and Captal de Buche. The Black Prince positioned his force among hedges and orchards. Front line archer’s took up positions behind hedges.
The Scottish Commander; Sir William Douglas, advised King John, his forces should attack on foot. For horses became vulnerable to the English archer’s. King John took the advice.
The French forces, mounted their charge on Monday 19th September 1356, with 300 German forces, under the command of Baron Clermont and Baron Audrehem. The attack proved to be a disaster, some knights were shot by English archer’s whilst others were dragged from their horses, killed or became prisoners.
Three divisions of French infantry advanced upon English forces, led by Dauphin Charles, Duc D’Orleans and King John.
The first French division under the command of Dauphin Charles was pushed back by the English. Black Prince’s soldiers, Gascon men-at-arms, English and Welsh archers engaged the enemy.
As the second division advanced, confusion reigned as the Duc D’Orleans force, mingled with division one, the result, both retreated.
The third division, commanded by King John, along with divisions one and two, advanced against the English, a formidable force of knights and men-at-arms.
The French army came within sight of the English, beyond a hedgerow. English and Welsh archers dropped their bows, joining English knights and men-at-arms, brandishing daggers and hammers. The result; French army scattered, many slaughtered as they ran.
King John II of France, was captured by the English, along with his 14 year old son; Philip on the 19th September 1356 at the “Battle of Poitiers,” and remained a prisoner until November 1361.
The “Treaty of Bretigny” in 1360 saw the French recognize Edward as ruler of Aquitaine. England also received Calais and a ransom of three million crowns for the captured King John. The treaty also called for a nine year peace treaty.
In 1364 King John II of France died, and was succeeded by Charles V.
In 1369, Edward’s wife Philippa died, and the ageing King, fell under the influence of his mistress; Dame Alice Perrers.
In 1369, the peace treaty of Bretigny, which had been drawn up in 1360, calling for a nine year truce, collapsed. For English and French, backed opposite sides in an internal dispute for the throne of Castile.
In 1370, Edward the Black Prince, massacred the people of Limoges, and in turn lost his credibility as a noble warrior.
The tide was turning away from the English to the French. For it was in 1370, du Guesclin defeated an English army at Pontvallain, and in 1372 a Castilian and French fleet destroyed an English fleet off La Rochelle.
Charles pushed home the French moments of glory, by re-capturing much of the land granted to Edward, in the treaty of Bretigny in 1360.
By 1375, John of Gaunt had lost half of his army to disease and famine, along with large parts of Aquitaine in the process.
In 1376, Edward the Black Prince, son of Edward III died.
The Good Parliament of 1376 resisted the supply of money, for the continued Hundred Years War in France. That same year Parliament called for the removal of Edward’s mistress; Alice Perrers, who was draining the royal coffers, to the tune of £2,000 a year.
King Edward became incapacitated by a stroke, and lost his life on the 21st June 1377. Edward’s life had been spent striving against his foe, in an attempt to regain the lands of France, once English territories. His grand illusions shattered. English territories lost, with the exception of Calais, and a coastal strip between Bordeaux and Bayonne.
Richard II, son of the Black Prince and grandson of Edward III, aged eleven became the next King of England. John of Gaunt, brother of the late Black Prince was appointed his Regent till he came of age to rule his kingdom.
In 1380, King Charles V of France died. With French forces running out of steam, as the war dragged on, year after year, it was no wonder French warriors lost interest…
King Richard II of England and King Charles VI of France both suffered at the hands of scheming relatives, who ruled on their behalf. Neither kingdom wanted to see the battle flag raised again.
In 1396 King Richard II of England married Isabella of France, daughter of King Charles VI. This, one would have to say, was one of those political marriages. The terms of the marriage led to a twenty-eight year truce. The two monarchs; Richard II and Charles VI were unable to broker a peace treaty.
In 1399, Richard II was deposed by Henry Bolingbroke, John of Gaunt’s son, who claimed the English throne, as King Henry IV of England. He will be remembered as the King who started the Lancasterian dynasty.