Fact of the day: 19th January

On this day in 1419 Henry V retook Rouen during the Hundred Years War, thus turning Normandy English again for the first time in two centuries. The Hundred Years War was a conflict between France and England, that was on again, off again from 1337-1453. A formal alliance was made with the Duchy of Burgundy, which had taken Paris after the assassination of Duke John the Fearless in 1419. In 1420, Henry met with King Charles VI. They signed the Treaty of Troyes, by which Henry finally married Charles’ daughter Catherine of Valois and Henry’s heirs would inherit the throne of France. The Dauphin, Charles VII, was declared illegitimate. Henry formally entered Paris later that year and the agreement was ratified by the Estates-General.

Henry_V_of_England_-_Illustration_from_Cassell's_History_of_England_-_Century_Edition_-_published_circa_1902

The war owes its historical significance to multiple factors. Although primarily a dynastic conflict, the war gave impetus to ideas of French and English nationalism. Militarily, it saw the introduction of weapons and tactics that supplanted the feudal armies dominated by heavy cavalry. The first standing armies in Western Europe since the time of the Western Roman Empire were introduced for the war, thus changing the role of the peasantry. For all this, as well as for its duration, it is often viewed as one of the most significant conflicts in medieval warfare. With respect to the belligerents, English political forces over time came to oppose the costly venture; while English nobles’ dissatisfactions, resulting from the loss of their continental landholdings, was a factor leading to the civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses. In France, civil wars, deadly epidemics, famines and bandit free companies of mercenaries reduced the population drastically.

 

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