One Hundred Years War: Summary

The drawn out conflict between England and France, became known as the “Hundred Years War,” even though it lasted for more than a hundred years (1337-1453).

By the early 13th century, England had lost Normandy, Anjou, Maine and Poitou, to the French, but held on to the lands of Gascony which supplied England with its wine.

During the early part of the Hundred Years War, England first witnessed an increase in French lands, then lost them all except for Calais.

At the height of the war, English lands in France included Western France from Brittany to the south-west corner.  Along with Ponthieu and Calais in the north.

The war started when Edward III attempted to seize the French throne, based on the claim that it belonged to him by right of ascension, based on him being a descendant through his mother.

King Philip VI of France, retaliated by attempting to take back English gains.

In 1346, Edward III invaded Normandy defeating the French at the “Battle of Crecy.”  In 1347, the English captured Calais.

In 1355, Edward the Black Prince, son of Edward III, attacked Bordeaux and Carcassonne.  In 1356 King John II met the Black Prince on the battlefield at the “Battle of Poitiers.”  On the 19th September 1356 King John II of France along with his son, was captured at Poitiers and remained a prisoner until November of 1361.

The “Treaty of Bretigny” in 1360, saw France recognise Edward as ruler of Aquitaine.  England received Calais and three million crowns ransom for King John II.  Included in the treaty, was a provision for a nine year peace treaty.

In 1369, the treaty of Bretigny collapsed and King Charles V of France, claimed lands which Edward and England had sovereignty.

In 1415 Henry V invaded and captured Harfleur, and had victory over the French at Agincourt, followed by Rouen in 1419.

Henry VI became King of France and England in 1431.

In 1444 Henry VI married Margaret of Anjou, at which time a peace treaty was signed.

Joan of Arc, A French patriot and martyr came to their assistance… putting life and belief into French troops.

The “Hundred Years War” became a victory for the French.  Calais remained in English hands until the reign of Mary Tudor.

The Hundred Years War was brought to an end in 1453, and England was shocked by the loss of its overseas empire.

One Hundred Years War: Battles

The Hundred Years War:  England and France fought each other for the French throne, and English territories from 1337-1453.  The war was not fought continuously but in phases.  It started out well for the English, but by 1453, the tide had turned in favour of France, all English lands except Calais were lost.

The “Battle of Cadsand – (1337),” the first battle of the Hundred Years War, where Edward III raided the island of Cadsand… leading to an English victory.

The “Naval Battle of Sluys – (1340) saw some two hundred French, Castilian and Genoese sail across the English Channel… for a prolonged invasion of England.

The English had a small fleet, but they had long bowmen situated on platforms at the rear of their ships, and were able to fire off arrows, much quicker than Frances crossbowmen.

The French were driven from their decks by a barrage of arrows, as ships closed in.  Grappling irons secured boats for boarding, as English forces scrambled onto French ships followed by hand-to-hand fighting.

The achieved victory, gave England control of the English Channel.

The “Battle of Auberoche – (1345),” was a battle fought between English and French troops over disputed boundaries… English forces won through.

The “Siege of Calais – (1346), tells of English forces capture of Calais, turning the area into their operations base.

The “Battle of Crecy – (1346) was fought in northern France; an overwhelming defeat for the French, with a far larger army than the English forces.  Genoese mercenary crossbow men and French knights, proved no match for the English longbow men.

The “Battle of Saint – Pol – de – Leon (1346),” an English commander named Dagworth, withdrew his men, taking cover at a nearby hill, where they dug trenches and waited for the French.  He was not disappointed as General Blois and his infantry assaulted their position, and they were cut down by English forces, leading to an English victory.

The “Battle of La Roche – Derrien (1347),” England’s forces fell into a trap set by Duke Charles, luring Dagworth into a night battle.  The French overwhelmed them, Dagworth was forced to surrender.  Charles let his guard down, and English backup forces led to his defeat.

The “Battle of Saintes (1351), where French forces attempted to capture the town, but English forces arrived, and were victorious.

The “Battle of Ardres (1351).”  French forces led by Lord Beaujieu, surrounded English forces under the command of John of Beauchamp as they withdrew from Saint-Omer, leading to a French victory.

The “Battle of Mauron (1352),” tells of an English captain, Breton captain and Franco Breton forces, meeting at Brambily, where the French were defeated… leading to an Anglo-Breton victory.

The “Battle of Poitiers (1356)” saw Edward the Black Prince, son of Edward III of England, defeat the French army near Poitiers.  Yet again, the English longbowmen played a decisive part in the battle.  King John II (Jean II) of France was captured and taken to England, where he remained until 1360, promising to pay a ransom for his release.

During the French King’s captivity in England, Charles attempted to be crowned King of France, but the attempt failed.

A peace treaty was drafted in 1360, which coincided with John’s release, by 1369 the treaty broke down wand was resumed.

At the “Battle of Auray (1364),” English troops commanded by John Chandos lay siege to the town of Auray.  French forces lose and the town surrenders.  The French military leader; Bertrand du Guesclin is captured and held for ransom.

At the “Battle of Navarrette (1367),” fought between Anglo-Gascon and Franco-Castilian forces.  English forces were led by Edward, against Henry of Trastamara.  Henry’s half-brother assisted Edward in his defeat.

At the “Battle of Montiel (1369)” Peter had the support of Edward and England, Henry and France.  Peter lost the battle, as Edward withdrew his support, and Henry was victorious for France.

At the “Battle of Chiset (1373),” French forces attacked the town of Chiset.  The English called for help, but the battle was over before they arrived, and the French were the victors.

At the “Siege of Harfleur (1415)” King Henry V of England landed on French soil with 10,000 men.  The siege lasted about a month, and Henry’s forces were victorious, but at a price, his number had been severely reduced.  Next stop for Henry was Calais, but French forces intercepted him at Agincourt.

The “Battle of Agincourt (1415)”.  English forces under the command of King Henry V, defeated a superior French army, and his skilled longbowmen, won the battle for their King and England.

The “Siege of Rouen (1418-1419)” English forces reached Rouen in the July of 1418, and came face to face with the French commanded by Blanchard and LeBouteillen.  English forces found it impossible to breach city walls, and opted to starve out their enemy.  On the 20th January 1419, the French surrendered.

The “Battle of Bauge (1421)” French and Scottish forces joined up, attacking the English in Normandy.  Thomas, the Duke of Clarence’s force of cavalry and infantry, were not working with each other, as they attacked allied forces, which brought down their army and victory went to the Franco-Scots force.

On the 31st August 1422, King Henry V of England died at Vincennes in France, and two months later King Charles VI of France also died.

The “Battle of Cravant (1423).”  Following a standoff, Scottish archers began firing at the enemy.  Then under the protection of the longbows chose to cross the river.  The French withdrew their forces, as the Scottish forces fought on, only to be cut down.  This would lead to a victory for the English and Burgundian army.

The “Battle of Verneuil (1423).”  Some 15,000 French and Scottish troops attacked a 9,000 strong English force in Normandy.  As the French and Scottish forces charged, English longbowmen cut them down in their tracks.

The “Battle of St.James (1426).”  The battle took place at Avranches, between French and English troops on the border of Normandy and Brittany.  English forces overwhelmed the French, leading to an English victory.

The “Battle of Jargeau (1429).”  Joan of Arc and Duke John controlled French forces against the English.  The French assault started on the 11th June and on the 12th June, Joan called upon the English to surrender.  Even though the English suffered heavy losses, they battled on, refusing to give in, and were victorious over the French.

The “Battle of Beaugency (1429).”  French forces were losing control of the river crossings, one by one.  French determination won through, as English commanders were captured and longbowmen killed.

The “Siege of Orleans (1429),” will be most remembered when Joan of Arc, a 17 year old peasant girl, stepped forward claiming divine guidance.  Her actions marked a turning point for French forces, she would lead the troops to victory over the English.

In the year 1429, French became more victorious in battle against the English.  Joan of Arc put fire in the bellies of French troops, and she would lead them into battle.

The “Battle of Patay (1429).”  This victory is credited to Joan of Arc, even though the battle was won, before France’s main force arrived on the scene.

The “Siege of Compiegne (1430).”  Captain Louis led an artillery bombardment at Choisy.  As the French forces were victorious, Joan of Arc was captured, put on trial by the English and burnt at the stake as a witch in 1431, in Rouen. 

At the “Battle of Gerbevoy (1435).”  French forces were commanded by La Hire and Jean Poton de Xaintrailles, who were victorious over English forces.  La Hire was promoted to Captain General of Normandy in 1438, and died in 1443 at Montauban.

The “Battle of Formingny (1450).”  King Charles VII of France, goes on the attack, pushing back a force of 5,000 English troops, into the town of Formingny.  French artillery open fire on the town, and only 1,000 English survived the bombardment.  Formingny marked an end to fighting in the northern territories of France.

The “Battle of Castillon (1453),” saw a victorious French army defeat English forces and marked an end to the Hundred Years War.  This battle was more about the use of cannons to achieve victory.

King Edward III of England had plunged the country into war against the French: “The Hundred Years War.”  Edward died in 1377 and so the reign of King Richard II began.  In 1396 Richard married Isabella of France, daughter of King Charles VI.

Richard and Isabella’s marriage, led to a twenty-eight truce in hostilities between the two countries.  It didn’t take long for the truce to be broken, and war to break out again.

The English failed to achieve victory in the Hundred Years War, even though they had achieved many victories.  After the Battle of Agincourt, the war changed direction, away from the English to the French.

England lost the war, all their territories except Calais, which was later captured in 1558.

One Hundred Years War (1399-1453)

Rivalry was escalating between the dukes of Burgundy and Orleans for governmental control, and it was heading for an internal battle within France, by two of its powerful houses.

In 1407, Louis duc d’Orleans, brother to King Charles VI of France was assassinated by the Duke of Burgundy, which led to civil war between Burgundian partisans of the Duke of Burgundy and Armagnac partisans of the Duke of Orleans.

In 1413, the Armagnacs gained control of Paris, and expelled from the city, those loyal to the Burgundians.

Feuding factions were tearing apart the French realm, to the backdrop of the Hundred Years War.  Sooner or later, England would seize the opportunity and attack France.

King Henry IV died in 1413, to be succeeded by his son Henry of Monmouth, King Henry V of England.  From the start of his reign, he was determined to attack France.

He demanded of France, that Aquitaine should be returned to English control, and the long forgotten arrears of King John’s ransom be paid.  He kept up his demands, until negotiations reached a stale mate, as France was unwilling to comply with his demands.  As the negotiations had been taking place, he had been equipping an army to do battle.

On the 11th August 1415, Henry’s fleet slipped slowly into the English Channel, heading southwards from the Hampshire coast.  On the 14th August, the fleet dropped anchor at Chef de Caux, on the north shore of the Seine estuary, a few miles from Honfleur.  He laid siege to the Norman port of Harfleur, who surrendered on the 22nd September.

Henry’s forces left Harfleur on the 8th October and marched to Calais.  Henry sent word, ordering the Governor of the town; Sir William Bardolph to take his forces to the crossing across the Somme and hold it.  At the crossing, Bardolph and his army was nowhere to be seen, instead French troops were waiting.

Henry marched south-east along the river’s left bank, and the French blocked any attempt to cross.

On the 24th October, as the English army passed through Frevent, some 30 miles from Calais and safety, his scouts reported, the French had amassed a large army and blocked the road ahead.

Henry knew there was only one action that could be taken, in reply to this information.

On the 25th October 1415, the “Battle of Agincourt” took place, as English forces took up position in three divisions; commanded by Lord Camoys on the right, the Duke of York in the centre and Sir Thomas Erpingham on the left.

The Constable of France, led the French line, with the second line led by the Dukes of Bar and d’Alencon with the Counts of Merle and Falconberg bringing up the rear.

Henry’s forces made the first move as banners advanced to the sound of trumpets.  As arrow range was reached, archers prepared, and on the King’s order a barrage of arrows, flew across the skyline, killing hundreds of French troops.

The battle raged, along the English line, archers abandoned their bows and joined knights and men-at-arms in hand to hand combat against the French.  In less than two hours, the battle was an English victory… and remnants of the French army vacated the battlefield.

The English army consisted of 5,000 knights, men-at-arms and archers.  The French army consisted of some 30,000 knights, men-at-arms and crossbowmen, of which 8,000 are believed to have died.

The Battle of Agincourt wiped out three French dukes, the Constable of France, nine Counts, and ninety Lords and close to 5,000 knights.  In response England’s losses were few; Edward, the Duke of York and 500 knights, men-at-arms and archers.

In 1417, Henry started a new campaign against France, the conquest of previously controlled English lands in France.  In January 1419, Rouen the Norman capital fell, which opened the way to Paris.

On the 10th September 1419, Duke John of Burgundy was assassinated in revenge for the murder of Louis duc d’Orleans, as the Burgundian faction joined forces with the English.

King Henry V of England, contracted fever at Meaux and died on the 31st August 1422, and was succeeded by his son; Henry VI.  Henry V’s brother, Duke John of Bedford, became Regent to the ten month old King.

King Charles VI of France died on the 21st October 1422, and the dauphin Charles, claimed the throne of France as King Charles VII.  Yet he didn’t have the backing of the people of France, and was only acknowledged as King by the people of Southern France.

The Duke of Bedford acting as King’s Regent, expanded English lands in France, as Maine came under English control.

The final phase of the Hundred Years War began with the birth of a French peasant girl, back in 1412: Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc).  In 1425 she claimed she heard voices from God; her mission in life was to save France by expelling their enemies… the English!

King Henry V of England claimed his right to the French throne and following their rejection, invaded France in August 1415 and went on to defeat Armagnac’s army at the “Battle of Agincourt” on the 25th October 1415.

Henry V conquered much of northern France in 1417, gaining support from Duke Philip III of Burgundy, for he agreed Henry V had a legal claim to the French throne.

In 1428 Joan of Arc met with Duke Charles after many rejections at his palace in Chinon.  She promised him, if he gave her an army she would turn round the war in his favour, and she would see him take his rightful place and crowned King of France at Reims.  There was much opposition to such an idea from loyal supporters of Charles, but he gave her a chance … one wonders what he saw in her.

In March of 1429, Joan of Arc led her army against the English as they were attacking Orlean’s.  She was dressed in white armour upon a white horse carrying a banner with the picture of “Our Saviour” holding the world with two angels at the sides on a white background covered with gold fleurs-de-lis.

Joan was to lead several assaults against the Anglo-Burgundian forces expelling them from their fortress, and forcing their retreat across the Loire River.  As her victories mounted, so did her fame, spread across France.

Joan kept her promise as Duke Charles was crowned King Charles VII of France in July 1429 at Reims.

After Joan’s capture in 1430 at the Battle of Compiegne, and burnt at the stake on charges of heresy.  Philip, the Duke of Burgundy renounced his English alliance at the Congress at Arras.  He accepted Charles VII as the true King of France, dealing a mortal blow to the English.

In 1444, King Henry VI of England married the French princess Margaret of Anjou, in an arranged marriage, part of an agreement towards peace.

In 1449, English warriors laid siege and looted Fougeres in Brittany.  In reply Charles VII, felt he was no longer bound by the terms of the peace treaty.

French forces captured Normandy and Gascony from the English during 1449-1451.  In 1452, a pro-English faction in Bordeaux called upon the English for assistance.  John Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury re-took Bordeaux.  On the 17th July 1453, John Talbot’s English force, proved no match against the French troops at Castillon, where they were defeated and Talbot died on the battlefield.

The final straw came on the 19th October 1453, when Bordeaux fell to the French.  England still had control of Calais, and it remained so up until 1558.  Up until the 1st January 1801, the title King of France was claimed by the English.

Effectively the “Hundred Years War” came to an end in 1453, and England was shocked by the loss of its overseas empire…

One Hundred Years War (1350-1399)

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.

One Hundred Years War (1337-1350)


Matilda, born of Norman blood, the daughter of King Henry I and Edith of Scotland, married Geoffrey Plantagenet, the Count of Anjou, and gave birth to a son; Henry.

King Henry II married Eleanor of Aquitaine, and jointly they owned the French territories of Anjou and Aquitaine.  Henry ruled more land in France, than the French King himself, and he wanted it back.

A weak King, had been England’s downfall, when King John (1199-1216), lost most of England’s French territories.  Future King’s desired to take back what was theirs, culminating in the declaration of war in 1337, “The Hundred Years War.”

1348 was a bad year for Europe, as Black Death struck, and millions of lives were lost.

By 1431, England had conquered most of France, in the Hundred Years War, using the “Long Bow.”

England was dealt a deadly blow, when Joan of Arc, led French troops into battle, putting into them, the belief that France could push these invader’s from their lands.


Henry Burghersh, the then Bishop of Lincoln and Councillor to the King of England, was commissioned by King Edward III of England to deliver a document into the hands of; Philip of Valois, the King of France.

Edward claimed that he was the rightful King of France, by way of his mother, Isabella a French Princess and grandson of a French Monarch.

Charles IV of France died leaving no male heirs, and France did not want an English King as their ruler, as such Philip of Valois, distant nephew to the French monarch was appointed.

Edward further announced, it was his intention not to pay homage to the King of France for England’s territories in France.  Edward’s challenge – refusing to pay homage, was by far, more audacious, threatening the feudal system, a centuries old system.

14th century Plantagenet King of England, descendants of French princes, held territories in France, descended from William the Duke of Normandy, of Viking decent had won the English crown, by right of conquest at the “Battle of Hastings” in 1066.

Edward became King of England in 1327. And Philip became King of France in 1328.  In accordance with France’s feudal customs, Edward III of England paid homage to King Philip of France, at Amiens Cathedral in 1329, for his fiefs, the French territories, under English control.

The English King faced a dilemma, for he held the title’s; Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Ponthieu, and as such was a member of the French aristocracy.  As such it was his duty, to defend the interests of France.  However, the issue at hand, Edward as King of England, could not be seen to allow France, to dictate his foreign policies.

France wanted to control sea traffic along its coastline, which led Philip of France to create links with Scotland, England’s hostile neighbour.

England and Scotland had been at war since the 1290’s, and in 1314 Robert the Bruce King of the Scots, had won a humiliating defeat against Edward II at the “Battle of Bannockburn.”

In 1328, Edward III sealed a treaty with the Scots, but he couldn’t resist any chance he had to poke his nose into Scotland’s affairs, after the death of Robert the Bruce in 1329.  He removed David II, son of Robert the Bruce, and placed his own puppet King on the Scottish throne, one who was loyal to Edward.

Philip stepped forward offering a safe haven to the exiled King of Scotland.

Edward would have felt uneasy by an alliance of France and Scotland, but that was nothing compared to the large fleet of French ships gathering in the harbours of Normandy.  There was only one explanation, King Philip of France was preparing for an attack on England, with the support from the Scots in the north.

In 1337, King Philip VI declares to Edward, that he is confiscating English territories in South-West France, citing England’s failure in its feudal obligations.

An enraged Edward responded, claiming that Philip VI had no right to confiscate his legitimate inheritance in France… those lands belonged to England.  The French throne should have been mine by right of inheritance, but I accepted the French Assembly to appoint you… but no longer.  “I declare war on France!”  I want what is mine.

In the year 1337, the first battle of the “Hundred Years War” took place at Cadsand, where English forces raided the island, leading to an English victory.

On the 26th January 1340, Edward III entered the Flemish City of Ghent, and called upon the townspeople, to recognize him, not only as King of England, but also as King of France.

Edward took the battle to the French: The Naval Battle of Sluys in 1340, saw some two-hundred French, Castilian and Genoese ships, sail across the English Channel… the start of an invasion of England.

On the 23rd June, Edward anchored at Blankenberghe, north of Bruges, where veteran soldiers; Robert Crawley and John Crabbe were put ashore to reconnoitre the French Fleet.  The two knights rode to Sluys with a French escort.  Upon their return they advised Edward, it be risky, as the French Fleet was located within the harbour.

Edward chose to ignore the advice from his knights…

On the 24th June 1340, King Edward attacked the French Fleet; made up of French, Castilian and Genoese ships inn Sluys harbour.  Their ships had been bunched together, in three squadrons, and each squadron was chained together.

The English Fleet bore down on the French early in the day, with the advantages of having the wind, tide and sun behind them.  English archers sent hails of arrows from their advantage points; end castles or raised platforms located at the rear of ships, or on the masts.

English ships rammed French vessels, attaching hooks and grappling irons, as men clambered across, to deliver death and destruction at close quarters.

The French were trapped, their ships chained together proved to be their undoing.  Some 18,000 French and Genoese were killed, either by arrows, or cut down in hand to hand combat or drowned.

Both French commanders lost their lives.  Hugues Quieret was killed as his ship was boarded and Nicolas Behuchet was hanged from the mast of his ship.

Most of the French Fleet had been destroyed or captured, removing danger to English merchant ships in the English Channel.

On the 11th July 1346, King Edward III of England landed at St.Vaast on the northern coast of France.  His army consisted of 16,000 knights, men-at-arms, archers and infantry.  Their target was Normandy.

On the beaches of France, he knighted his 16 year-old son, Edward the Prince of Wales, who became known as the Black Prince.

At the same time a second English force, landed at Bordeaux on the coast of south-west France.  Their target was to invade Aquitaine.

Edward’s forces marched south to Caen, capital of Normandy, taking Raoul, Count of Eu, prisoner, he being the Constable of France and a prized prisoner at that.

They marched forth to the Seine, finding bridges destroyed, slowing up their advancement into France.  They marched up the Seine, until they found a bridge which was crossable.  The bridge at Poissy, was easily repaired, and English forces crossed.

At the same time, news reached Edward, that King Philip VI of France, was amassing an enormous army, to stop English invaders.

Edward’s forces crossed the Seine, and marched north to the sea, approaching perilously close to Paris and Philips forces.  As they marched north King Philip followed closely in their tracks.  At low tide, they crossed the mouth of the river, evading pursuing forces.  Edward’s escaping forces encamped in the Foret de Crecy on the north bank of the Somme.

On the 26th August 1346, the English forces took position between the villages of Crecy and Wadicourt.

Edward III took the central position, with his son Edward, the Prince of Wales commanding the right flank of forces, along with the Earl of Oxford, Earl of Warwick and Sir John Chandos.  The left flank of forces was commanded by the Earl of Northampton.

Each division of forces, had its spearmen to the rear, knights and men-at-arms in the centre and archers to the front.

Philip’s army came north from Abbeyville arriving mid-day on the 26th at Crecy – Wadicourt.  French knights advised their King to encamp for the night, and attack on the 27th… Philip agreed.

Many of his army leaders were not waiting, and Philip conceded and so the attack was made that very day, on the afternoon of the 26th.

The role of the Constable of France was to command the Kingdom’s feudal army in battle.  They had been thwarted, for the English had taken him prisoner.  Crecy lost its authority and experience in battle, the King’s army lacked direction.

The French army was divided into four divisions:

Division One was commanded by Antonio Doria and Carlo Grimaldi.

Division Two was commanded by Duke D’Alencon with blind King John of Bohemia.

Division Three was commanded by D’Alencon’s, King of the Romans and former King of Majorca.

Division Four was commanded by the Duke of Lorraine and the Count of Blois.  With King Philip and his forces bringing up the rear guard.

The battle began, late in the afternoon.  Suddenly without warning, the heavens opened, and it poured with rain.  English archers removed their bow strings, putting them in their jackets to keep them dry.  The French crossbowmen did not have that option.

With rain stopped, French crossbowmen fired their arrows, only to discover they fell short of their mark; the rain had loosened their strings, and they were no longer taut.  English forces stepped forth, drawing their bowstrings to their ears, as they released their arrows they crossed the skyline and reached their desired target.

The barrage of arrows, inflicted many casualties, forcing retreat by crossbowmen who were trampled down by French knights.  French knights and men-at-arms were subjected to a relentless storm of arrows, wave after wave.

The battle continued late into the night, and King Philip abandoned the carnage, riding to the Castle of La Boyes, to seek safety from the English onslaught.

The King of France had left his post, his forces fled the battlefield.  Come the next day, Welsh and Irish spearmen walked among the dead and dying, murdering and pillaging the wounded…

The French army was 80,000 in size and lost some 30,000 men to an English army of 16,000 men, who reported minimal losses.

After the battle, Edward the Prince of Wales the Black Prince, adopted the emblem of the King of Bohemia, three white feathers and his motto “Ich Dien” (I serve). Still the emblem of the Prince of Wales.

In 1347 Calais surrendered to Edward’s forces.  It was the first battle of the Hundred Years War, which saw the use of artillery.

In the early part of the 14th century, Earth underwent a period of extreme cold weather, as temperature plummeted.  What was to come, led to millions of death’s across Europe; “The Black Death Plague.”

There was no control against this disease as it spread from village to village, town to town, and country to country, as thousands died, day by day.  The disease was known to travel by sea and land, with no available solution to stop it, in its tracks.

  • By the winter of 1347 it had reached Italy, and reports were coming in, it was running rampant through the streets of Rome and Florence.
  • January 1348 the plague had reached Marseilles, for the dead were lying where they died; in houses and on the streets.
  • It travelled along the Rhine, and reached Germany in 1348 and the Low Countries.
  • By the middle of 1348, this disease had struck Paris, Bordeax, Lyon and London.

The Hundred Years War was suspended in 1348, due to high mortality rates amongst the military, caused by the plague, yet it was reconvened once the plague had passed.

The Black Death plague became one of the worst pandemics in human history, killing an estimated two hundred million people between 1347-1350.

One Hundred Years War: The Why?

In 1152, Henry Plantagenet d’Anjou, heir to the English throne, married Eleanor of Aquitaine, the heiress, and took the title; Duke of Aquitaine.  In 1154, Henry ascended to the English throne as King Henry II of England, and started the Plantagenet dynasty.  Henry now held more French land, than the King of France himself.

England’s King John, lost the lands of Normandy, Anjou, Maine, Touraine and Poitou to France.  Henry III son of King John, acknowledged the surrender of Plantagenet claims to French land in France conquered by Philippe Augustus by way of the 1259 “Treaty of Paris.”

The scene had been set, Isabella of France and Edward the son and heir of King Edward I of England, would marry, according to the “Treaty of Montreuil,” dated June 1299.  These two pawns, it was hoped would bring an end, to battles over England’s territories in France.

Isabella of France married Edward II in 1308, what she hadn’t expected, was three partners in the marriage; Isabella – Edward – Pier Gaveston.  For Edward II and Pier Gaveston were lovers.

In 1314, Edward invaded Scotland, and was defeated at the “Battle of Bannockburn,” and it was not until 1329 that Scotland was recognised as an independent nation.

On the 1st August 1323, condemned prisoner Roger Mortimer of Wigmore was being held at the Tower of London, awaiting his execution.

Gerard d’Alspaye, the Tower’s deputy constable slipped a sleeping draught, into the drinks of the constables and guards.  Hastily Gerard released Mortimer from his cell, leading him to the tower’s southern wall, by way of the castle kitchens.

A rope ladder was dropped over the wall, and each climbed down to a waiting boat, and fellow conspirators rowed them across to the river’s south bank.  They escaped by horseback to the town of Porchester, and within days had crossed by ship to France.

In the March of 1325, Isabella went to France to see her brother; King Charles IV.  Her intended mission was to put an end to land disputes between England and France.  An agreement was made, that England could have Gascony and Ponthieu provided Edward attended the King’s court in Paris and paid homage to him.

It was at this time; Isabella met Roger Mortimer, an escapee from the Tower of London, who whisked her off her feet … she fell in love with him.

In the September of 1325, Edward II listened to advice from his advisors; the Despenser’s, that he should not go to France, but send his son; Prince Edward.  Prior to leaving for France on the 12th September, Prince Edward received the title; “Count of Ponthieu.”

On the 21st September 1325, Prince Edward paid homage to King Charles IV of France, and in return Charles bestowed upon him, the title of “Duke of Aquitaine.”

With her son, Prince Edward safe by her side, Isabella began setting the scene of removing her husband from his position as King Edward II of England.

In November 1325, the English Parliament requested Isabella to return to England… she refused, which incurred the annoyance of her brother: Charles.

Part of a letter written by Isabella to Edward:

“I feel that marriage is a joining of a man and woman holding fast to the practice of a life together.  But someone has come between my husband and myself and is trying to break the bond; I declare that I will not return until this intruder is removed, but discarding my marriage garment, shall put on the robes of widowhood and mourning until I am avenged.”

The Queen stayed in France, taunting the King of England who had so abused her and drawing around her a coalition of disaffected English nobles and bishops.  True to her word, she symbolized her disgust with and alienation from her husband by wearing black robes of mourning and a veil over her face.

In England, Edward was furious, and instructed leading bishops of England to tell Isabella that her absence roused fears of a French invasion of England.  Isabella was unmoved.  She held the heir to the Plantagenet realm, and she was protected by the King of France.  As 1325 drew to a close, Isabella allied herself with the fugitive Roger Mortimer of Wigmore.

Isabella left France and attended the court of her brother; William II, the Count of Hainault, who assisted here with her plans to invade England.  In return Prince Edward, now the Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Ponthieu, would marry his daughter; Philippa.

In 1326, England prepared for an invasion of their lands, which had been financed partly by money advanced from Philippa’s dowry.

On the 24th September 1326 Isabella and her loyal supporters landed at Orwell in Suffolk.  Isabella’s army advanced on London seeking out Edward, but he had left the Tower of London, with the Despenser’s and the Earl of Winchester.

Isabella was welcomed upon entering Bristol in October.  The Earl of Winchester, who resided in the castle surrendered and was executed on the 27th October 1326 as a traitor.

King Edward II was captured at the “Abbey of Neath” in Wales and imprisoned in Berkeley Castle.  The Despenser’s were captured and put on trial, and Hugh Despenser was executed as a traitor.

Prince Edward, son of Edward II and Isabella Capet, was crowned King Edward III of England on the 29th January 1327, after his father abdicated his position as King of England.

Edward Plantagenet, King Edward III of England, was fourteen at his ascension, and under the tutelage of an adulterous mother; French born Isabella and her ambitious lover Roger Mortimer.  They acted as the young King’s Regents, until he became of age, to rule his kingdom.

Isabella and Roger Mortimer were now rulers of England.  Mortimer, the Earl of March, seized castles, estates and treasures.  His co-conspirator was no better, for Isabella made huge grants for herself and her lover.  Even to the point of using Parliament to pass laws in her favour.

In October 1330, when Edward could take control of his kingdom, Isabella and Mortimer secured themselves in Nottingham Castle, with guards patrolling the castle walls.

They believed they be safe, what they hadn’t bargained on, Edward and a few good men, accessed the castle through a secret passage into Mortimer’s bedroom.

Mortimer’s days of robbing Edward’s kingdom, came to an end, taken to London, charged and found guilty of treason, and hung, drawn and quartered on the 29th November.  His mother Isabella imprisoned in Castle Rising for the remainder of her days.

The Hundred Years War was started by King Edward III of England, who believed he should have ascended as King of France, following the death of Charles IV in 1328.

The Hundred Years War was the final war, going back to the Norman history, when William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy became King of England in 1066, after defeating Harold II at the “Battle of Hastings.”

In 1328, King Charles IV of France died, leaving no male heir to succeed him and continue the Capetian dynasty.

Since the death of Hugh Capet in 996, there has always been a son to carry on the family name.  France didn’t want an English King as ruler, even though Edward was related to Charles.  So it was, the French Assembly awarded the crown of France to a distant cousin; Philip of Valois, who was crowned King Philip VI of France at Reims in 1328.

King Edward III of England, reluctantly accepts the French Assembly decision; making Philip King of France.

The 17 year old Edward III attends Amiens Cathedral in 1329, in response to a summons by Philip VI, in homage for his fiefs (Fiefs – land granted by a lord in return for military service) in France.  The English King Edward III showed contempt by wearing a deep red robe, with embroidered gold leopards upon it, wearing his crown and brandishing a sword at his belt.

Over the next eight years, a gradual change was taking place, England’s symbolic act of defiance to war.

French nobles unhappy with Philip VI as King of France, urged Edward to press his claim, for the throne of France.

In 1337, King Philip VI of France declares that he is confiscating English territories in South-West France, citing England’s failure in feudal obligations.

An enraged Edward responded, claiming that France is his by right of inheritance… So it was, Edward III declared war on France.

On the 26th January 1340, Edward III entered the Flemish city of Ghent, and called upon the towns people to recognize him not only King of England, but also King of France.

This marked the most profound imaging of the Plantagenet Crown… it would spark an exhausting, seemingly endless period of hostility between England and France, that would become known as the “Hundred Years War.”

Plantagenet Kings had depicted their English sovereignty through three lions, commonly known in heraldry as leopards, against a bright red field.  The coat of arms had changed. 

The leopards had been quartered within the ancient arms of the French Crown: golden fleurs-de-lis against a blue field.  French fleurs-de-lis taking pride of place, displayed in the upper left and right corners of the coat of arms.

English and French interests clashed across Europe…  French Kings looked to expand their rights, their borders.  This brought England and France in direct conflict in trading battles and control of shipping routes.

14th Century Peasants Revolt

Most English people worked the land during the 14th century, and produced food for the towns and cities.  Then in 1348, the Black Death plague crossed the water’s from Europe into England, bringing with it death on a large scale, no one was immune.  This disease took the lives of some fifty percent of the population.

Things had changed in England, and the peasant’s of this land were only too quick to see it.  There was plenty of land in need of farming, but limited manpower to carry out the work.

Peasant’s charged for their work, and with manpower shortages, the prices were driven higher and higher, and landowner’s profits were driven lower and lower.  Even landowners bartered with peasant’s to get their crops harvested and to market, even if it meant out-bidding fellow farmers.

The authorities had to step in amid growing chaos, and help farmers before it got completely out of control.  So it was in 1349, emergency legislation was passed in the form of the “Ordinance of Labourer’s” and the “Statue of Labourer’s” in 1351.  These bills were designed to re-set wages paid to peasants at pre Black Death rates.  Under these bills it became illegal to refuse work offered or break existing contracts, with fines being imposed for offenders.

By 1361, the legislation of these bills had been strengthened to such an extent, that anyone breaking the rules faced the possibility of branding or imprisonment, for their actions.

The peasant’s were forced to work on church land for up to two days for free, but this meant that no food was grown for their families.  They saw the church getting richer and richer, as they returned to olden times as they became one of the poor groups of society.

They wanted to break away from this tradition, for working for free on church land.  If landowners paid, why shouldn’t they…  John Ball a Priest from Kent backed their actions.

England had been at war with France, and more and more money was needed to take on their powerful armies.  Whilst King Edward III of England, pressed home his claims to the French throne, so the long running conflict, known as the “Hundred Years War” would continue.

However, the might of Charles V of France increased in 1369, with cross-channel raids on English coastal towns.

A new King came to the English throne, when in 1377 King Edward III died, only to be replaced by Richard II aged ten.

The young King’s biggest challenge was how to raise the money to pay for his armies battling with the French.  Early 14th century taxes were imposed on household’s moveable possessions; goods and livestock.

So Parliament introduced the controversial Poll Tax, where each person aged over 14, would have to pay.

By 1381, the peasant’s had witnessed the Poll Tax charges being rolled out three times over a four year period, and they had reached breaking point…  If you were on the tax register, you paid or they took goods to the value.

In May 1381, villagers from the Essex village of Fobbing made a stand against Poll Tax payments.  When John Brampton the tax collector arrived, checking why bills had not been paid, he was evicted from the village.  In June soldiers arrived to establish law and order, and they too were evicted.

Villagers from Fobbing and many other village’s joined forces and marched on London, taking their grievances to the young King.

Peasant’s from Kent, led by Wat Tyler marched on Canterbury, and entered the walled city and castle on 10th June without resistance.  The rebel force deposed the absent Archbishop Sudbury of Canterbury, and forced cathedral monks to swear allegiance to their cause.

The next morning Wat Tyler took his rebel force and marched on London, destroying tax records and burning down government tax houses on route.  Upon arrival in London, the city gates were opened for them, by those who believed in their cause.

King Richard II left Windsor Castle by boat, taking up residence at the Tower of London.

Both groups of peasant’s had reached London by the 12th June.  The Kent army of rebels camped at Blackheath and the Essex rebels at Mile End, north of the river Thames.

The King agreed to meet them on the afternoon of the 12th at Rotherhithe, but when faced by such a large army, he did not leave the Royal Barge, fearing for his safety and returned to the Tower of London.

On the 13th June rebels attacked the city, prisons were broken into, prisoners set free, and a number of people killed.

As parts of London burnt, Richard II agreed to meet with the rebel forces the very next day at Mile End, believing the looting and ransacking of the city would cease, and many would leave the city.

King Richard II rode out to meet Wat Tyler the leader of the rebel force at Mile End on the 14th June, where their demands were put forward:

  • Land rents were to be reduced to reasonable levels.
  • The Poll Tax was to be abolished.
  • Free pardons for all rebels.
  • Charters would be given to the peasant’s laying down a number of rights and privileges.
  • All traitors were to be put to death.

Richard agreed to their demands, with the added note, that a royal court would decide who is or not a traitor. 

Wat Tyler wanted more; he outwitted the King and sneaked off with a group of rebels, and raided the Tower of London.  He found the Simon Sudbury the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Hailes the King’s Treasurer and John Legge creator of the Poll Tax.  These men were forcibly dragged out onto Tower Hill and beheaded; their heads were paraded around the city, before being fixed to London Bridge.

The peasant’s started leaving the city on mass and returning home, believing the charters they had, absolved them from charges, and their demands had been met.  What they didn’t know, was that their leader Wat Tyler and a select group of rebels remained behind, to meet with the King at Smithfield.  Wat Tyler was wounded by William Walworth, the Lord Mayor of London, at this meeting, and he died at the hands of a squire.

The King wanted his revenge on these peasant rebels.  The King so ordered the execution of any man brandishing a charter, for it became a notice of execution.  Thousands were slain by Royal Troops or sent to the gallows for their crimes.

Minor rebellions broke out across the country as rebel peasants returned home, and fire still burnt in their hearts.  Violence spread like a plague, gaols opened, prisoner’s set free, court records burned, property looted and destruction on a large scale.

Rebel leaders were rounded up, by Royal Troops, to stand trial for their part in the Revolt.

  • Jack Straw was captured in London and executed.
  • John Ball was captured in Coventry, tried for his charges in St.Albans and hung, drawn and quartered in the market place.
  • John Wrawe was tried in London, and gave evidence against his colleagues hoping to be pardoned, but the court still sentenced him to death.  He was hung, drawn and quartered on 6th May 1382.
  • Sir Roger Bacon, was tried and imprisoned in the Tower of London, before being pardoned by the Crown.

The King announced that all peasants’ previous conditions of service would come into effect on the 30th June, and that the Royal Charters signed during the uprising would be revoked on the 2nd July.

What was the final outcome of the Peasant’s Revolt? 

  • The peasants were crushed by a mightier force, their demands refused, and thousands executed, for taking part.
  • Parliament gave up getting involved; in landowners payment to peasant’s who worked on their land.
  • The Poll Tax was abolished.
  • The peasant class gained respect from landowners and government, and were no longer part of the land, and became free men in their own right.

The 14th Century Peasant’s Revolt of 1381 showed if pushed too far, the working man can rise up and take action.  What started as a local revolt centred around Essex spread across the South of England and up the East Coast.

William Wallace v King Edward I (3/3)

William Wallace had become the most wanted man by the English and evaded capture until 5th August 1305.

To many noblemen of Scotland, William Wallace roots show he is nothing more than a commoner with a grudge against the English.  No one can deny, if it hadn’t been for him, Scotland would have become nothing more than a province of England under English rule.

So who betrayed William Wallace to the English?

It is said that Sir John Mentieth a Scottish noble born in 1275, in Ruskie, Stirling, son Walter Bailoch Stewart, the 5th Earl of Menteith, and Mary the 4th Countess of Menteith.  He also replaced the Stewart name to that of Menteith.

In 1296 at the Battle of Dunbar, against the English, he along with his brother Alexander Stewart the 6th Earl of Menteith were captured with many other nobles and imprisoned.

In the June of 1297 King Edward I released Scottish nobles formerly captured at Dunbar, on condition they quell this minor insurrection in the Moray province. 

John Menteith pledged his undying support to King Edward I, and was appointed Governor of Dumbarton Castle, this became a secure fortification, becoming a major access route into Scotland from the sea.

On the 5th August, Sir John Menteith being a loyal supporter of King Edward I of England, betrayed William Wallace to English soldiers, and played a part in the capture of this outlaw.

William Wallace was escorted under heavy escort from Robroyston to London on the charge of treason.  He was brought before the authorities charged with treason and atrocities against civilians in war, and crowned with an oak garland, meaning he is the King of the outlaws. 

His response was “I could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject.”  Wallace implied that John Balliol was his King.

On the 23rd August 1305 he was removed to the Tower of London having been found guilty of all charges against him, and stripped naked and dragged through the city streets.  He was then hanged, drawn and quartered; an English medieval ritual to ensure one could not rise again on Judgement Day.

They first strangled him by hanging, but stopped short of death.  Emasculated him by removal of his testicles.  Eviscerated him by removal of his internal organs, disembowel and burnt before his very eyes.  Then they beheaded him, and cut his body into four parts.

His head was dipped in tar and placed on a pike on London Bridge.  The remaining four parts of his body were displayed separately in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Stirling and Perth.

William Wallace was seen by the Scottish people as a true martyr of Scotland, and as a symbol of the struggle for independence.  What he had started continued on after his death.

Robert the Bruce, Earl of Carrick was crowned King of Scotland in 1306.

Scotland gained its independence from the English some fifty years after the execution of William Wallace.  He has been remembered as one of Scotland’s greatest heroes.

In 1869 the Wallace Monument was erected on Stirling Bridge.

A plaque is located on the wall of St.Bartholomews Hospital in London, close to the place of William Wallace’s execution at Smithfield.

William Wallace v King Edward I (2/3)

William Wallace sought revenge from Fenwick the English knight who had murdered his father in 1291, for not swearing his allegiance to King Edward I of England, and Lord Paramount of Scotland.

Fenwick passed through Loudon Hill in July 1296, commanding a convoy, and Wallace unmounted him and his cousin Robert Boyd dispatched him into the next world, as his small army attacked the convoy.

In September 1296, Wallace attacked another convoy, belonging to Sir Henry de Percy at East Carthcart.  The Great Council branded him an outlaw on the charge of highway robbery.

Irish exiles, like Stephen of Ireland, joined him in his exploits against the English.

In the autumn of 1296 they seized the Peel Tower in Gargunnock and burnt it to the ground.

In late 1296 attacked Sir James Butler’s convoy as it passed through Methven Wood, then seized Kinclaven Castle, plundered it, and set it ablaze.  Sir John Butler son of Sir James commanded a large force of cavalry and archers, were ordered to seek out and destroy Wallace and his men, by Sir Gerald Heron; Governor of Perth.

Wallace and his men escaped into Cargill Wood and escaped by the skin of their teeth, and lost many brave men that day.

Christmas 1296, and Wallacew spent it with his cousin; Patrick Auchinleck.  For a spot of light relief from time to time, ventured into Lanark and slayed some English infidels’.

William Wallace fell in love with Marion Braidfute, the eighteen year old daughter of the late Hugh Braidfute of Lamington.

In January 1297 seized Lochmaben Castle the stronghold of Robert Bruce 6th Lord of Annandale, the current governor of Carlisle Castle.  Before heading to Dunduff to see out the cold winter months, seized Crawford Castle.

In the spring of 1297, he sneaked into Lanark to visit his girlfriend Marion Braidfute, whom he had married, and they had one child, a daughter who grew up and married Shaw, a squire of Balliol’s blood.

In May 1297, after attending Sunday mass at St.Kentigern Church in Lanark, English soldiers attempted to capture this known outlaw.  He escaped by slipping through Marion’s house, and she delayed their pursuit.  She paid a high price for her loyalty, for Sir William Heselrig, Sheriff of Lanark murdered her, and torched her house, for assisting a known outlaw.

When the news reached Wallace that his wife had been killed for her actions, he was consumed with guilt and revenge.

William Wallace had been content to liberate Scotland from the English.  Everything had changed, for the English had killed his father and wife, and persecuted his mother until her death.  Now this was a personal vendetta against the English… He wanted justice; he wanted to see the blood of English soldiers, run through the hills of Scotland.

A small group of his men slipped into Lanark and entered the home of Sir William Heselrig.  He was slain by Wallace’s own hand as he laid in his bed, then went on and killed his son who attacked him with sword in hand, and his final act of revenge was to torch the village.

William Wallace and his men, went on a killing frenzy and slaughtered some two-hundred and forty English soldiers, evicted priests, women and children from their homes, making them destitute.

After the massacre in Lanark by William Wallace and his band of men against the English… news spread across Scotland like wildfire.  It didn’t take long before like minded Scots took up arms to join him.  His army grew in size to three thousand well armed men, fuelled by his exploits against the English.  Old friends Adam Wallace and Robert Boyd joined his ranks.

Robert Wishart, the Bishop of Glasgow, recruited Wallace to fight the cause for freedom in the name of John Balliol, giving it a veil of respectability.

Sir William Douglas, former governor of Berwick, joined up with Wallace and captured Sanquhar Castle, only to lose it to Captain Durisdee, who himself lost it to William Wallace.

In June 1297 King Edward I released Scottish nobles formerly captured at the Battle of Dunbar in 1296, on condition they quell this minor insurrection in the Moray province.

In June 1297, Wallace and his growing array planned and executed a symbolic strike to liberate Scone, resistance was minimal, for most English had fled when news reached them Wallace was heading in their direction.

By the end of June 1297, Scotland was in rebellion from the north to the south, and the east to the west.  The instigators of this rebellion were; Andrew de Moray, James Steward, Robert Wishart (Bishop of Glasgow) and William Wallace.

“Ever formost in treason, conspired with the Steward of the Kingdom, named James, for a new piece of insolence, yea, for a new  chapter of ruin.  Not daringly openly to break  their pledge to the king, they caused a certain  bloody man, William Wallace, who had  formerly been a chief of brigands in Scotland, to revolt against the King, and assemble the people in his support.”

John de Warenne Governor of Scotland returned to Berwick in July 1297, under orders from King Edward I to stamp out this insurrection.

In the early days of July 1297 Sir Henry de Percy and Sir Robert de Clifford crossed the English-Scottish border with an army of forty thousand foot soldiers and three hundred cavalry to put an end to this Scottish Rebellion.

Robert Wishart the Bishop of Glasgow called upon the Scottish Nobles, and they gathered at Irvine with their vassals, (A man who gives military service to a lord in return for protection and land) to rid Scotland of the English.  On the 7th July the Scottish Nobles surrendered without any blood being spilt. Then Robert Wishart was taken into custody by the English for his involvement and imprisoned in Roxburgh Castle.

William Wallace attacked Glasgow with three hundred horsemen in reprisal for Robert Wishart’s arrest.  Some four-hundred English soldiers were known to have died that day.

Earls of Atholl, John Comyn, Mentieth, John of Lord with a cumulative force of fifteen-thousand warriors attacked resistance groups of Argyll.  In response Wallace attacked their force, with a short swift blow, and the battle only lasted two hours.

At Ardchattan on the shores of Loch Etive, Wallace gave Duncan of Lorn and Sir Neil Campbell their ancestral lands, for both had been loyal supporters for a free Scotland.

William Wallace and his army marched cross country and attacked the town of Perth, where two-thousand English soldiers were slaughtered in the battle.

The new Sheriff of Perth was the rebel Knight; Ruthven appointed by Wallace for his actions and granted a hereditary Lieutenancy of Strathearn.

William Wallace and his army captured Dunnottar Castle in 1297.  Some four thousand warriors retreated into the church; seeking refuge.  Wallace proceeded to burn the church to the ground with the English inside, and then proceeded to destroy the castle.

After massacring the English at Dunnottar Castle it is said some of the rebels are believed to have knelt down before the Bishop of Dunkeld, resting upon their swords, and asked for absolution for the acts that had taken place that very day.

Wallace’s army headed up the east coast to Aberdeen, where one hundred fully laden ships lay in the harbour.  At low tide, they attacked the English ships, killing crews and soldiers alike, then liberated the cargo, and set the ships on fire.

In August 1297, Sir Henry de Lazom seized control of Aberdeen Castle for the rebel cause.

In the latter part of 1297 William Wallace and his highly outnumbered seized control of Perth and its castle.  As they drove the deflated English from Scottish lands, they seized Cupar Castle, killing all the English soldiers within.

After the battle, Moray and Wallace assumed the title of Guardians of the Kingdom of Scotland on behalf of King John Balliol.  Sadly Moray died from his wounds suffered on the battlefield in late 1297.

As the English retreated from Scotland, they burnt farms, crops and slaughtered livestock.  With winter just around the corner, food would be in short supply.

On the 18th October 1297, William Wallace and his army invaded England, and stripped the counties of; County Durham, Cumbria and Northumbria of food and livestock.

Around Christmas of 1297, William Wallace was knighted for his deeds in freeing Scotland from the English by Robert Bruce the 2nd Earl of Carrick.

By September of 1298, William Wallace had resigned his position as a Guardian of Scotland in favour of Robert the Bruce, Earl of Carrick crowned King of Scotland in 1306 and John III Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, King John Balliol’s nephew.

William Wallace v King Edward I (1/3)

William Wallace was born in 1272 in Ellerslie, Renfrewshire, Scotland to parents Malcolm Wallace, a laird and Margaret de Crauford, and he was one of three brothers.

Who would have believed at the time of his birth, he would grow up, to become the Guardian of Scotland, and sacrifice his life for his beliefs…

Yet, neither man had met, but his biggest adversary in life, would come from King Edward I of England (Longshanks) who reigned from (1272-1307).

The young William was educated at home, during his early years, and received religious education from the Monks of Paisley Abbey.  Aged just seventeen or eighteen, he went to Dunipace, to further his education at the Chapelry of Cambuskenneth Abbey, in preparation for his entrance into the church.

Whilst he was growing up, Scotland was changing around him, and as yet hadn’t affected him.  He was preparing himself for a life within the church.

Everything changed when King Alexander III of Scotland died on the 19th March 1286.  His heir to the throne was Margaret, Maid of Norway, but she was but a child.  On route from Norway to Scotland, the new heir to the Scottish throne became ill and died on the 26th September 1290 in Orkney.

So the fight started to see who would become the next King of Scotland: Robert Bruce 5th Lord of Annadale in the south and the other main rival were the Comyn’s from the north.

With the threat of civil war looming, King Edward I of England was invited by the Scottish nobility to arbitrate in the process of choosing the new King of Scotland.  A suggestion that had been put forward by William Fraser, the then Bishop of St.Andrews looking to avoid outright war between the clans.

King Edward I accepted their invitation, on the condition that he be recognised as the “Lord Paramount of Scotland.”

Then on the 11th June 1291, the Lord paramount of Scotland, King Edward I ordered that every Scottish Castle would come under his control and furthermore all Scottish officials were to be replaced by English officials.

He promised at the time, it was only a temporary arrangement under the terms of arbitration, but history has shown us otherwise.  By being made Lord Paramount of Scotland, they had made him their ruler…

The Guardians of the Peace along with the leading members of Scottish nobility were required to swear allegiance to King Edward I as their Lord of the Kingdom of Scotland.  All Scottish people also had to pay homage to Edward I, by the 27th July 1291, at predestined sites across the country.

Sir Malcolm Wallace refused to swear allegiance and fled, then in the latter months of 1291, he was murdered by Fenwick an English knight at Loudon Hill, for his refusal to yield to the true authority of King Edward I in Scotland.

In December 1291 William Wallace became branded as an outlaw by the Governor of Dundee; Sir Alan Fitz-Alan.  His crime that he wilfully killed Selby, the son of a constable, yet Wallace was replying to Selby’s taunts of his father’s murder…  So his new life was beginning, no longer destined to enter the church, but an outlaw.

On the 6th November 1292, the Lord Paramount of Scotland, King Edward I, having heard all arguments as to who should be Scotland’s new King, ruled in favour of John Balliol.

King John Balliol of Scotland, so stated that Scotland was nothing more than another region of England, and under direct control by King Edward I of England.

Robert Bruce shocked by the revelations that had taken place, retired from the Scottish political arena and died on the 1st April 1295.  His son also named Robert Bruce, 1st Earl of Carrick passes his Earldom to that of his eighteen year old son; Robert Bruce who would become the future King of Scotland.

William Wallace hated the English and everything they stood for, holding them responsible for the death of his father.  He often got into skirmishes with them, he just couldn’t help himself, he just couldn’t leave his dirk in its scabbard.

On one of these occasions he did battle with a number of English soldiers in Ayr, and managed to kill a few.  However, he hadn’t been that lucky, for he was eventually captured and thrown into gaol awaiting his trial.

He was one lucky individual, for upon the day of his trial, he was found to be dead by the guards and believed to have died from a fever, sustained from his wounds.  His former nanny was granted permission to take his body for a Christian burial, and finds he is barely alive.  She and her daughter nurse him back to health, whilst keeping up the pretence to those around her, that William Wallace had actually died.

Once the news was out that the legendary William Wallace was indeed alive, and ready to tackle the English warriors once again a prophecy was written by Sir Thomas Rymour, believing he would drive the English out of Scotland,

For sooth, ere he decease,

Shall make thousands in the field make end.

From Scotland he shall forth the Southron send,

And Scotland thrice he shall bring to peace.

So good of hand again shall ne’er be kenned.

Fully recovered from his near death experience, he sent his former nanny and daughter into the care and protection of his mother at Ellerslie, fearing for their lives, once it becomes known they had aided his recovery.

The combination of William Wallace’s exploits against the English and the prophecy hailing him as the one who would deliver Scotland out of the hands of the English, into a life of Freedom.  Many Scots and close friends, who were sympathetic to his cause rallied round him, as their leader to liberate Scotland.

Cousins:    Adam Wallace, Richard Wallace, Simon Wallace and William de Crauford.

Nephews: Edward Little and Tom Halliday.

Uncle:        Patrick Auchinleck of Gilbank.

King John Balliol’s reign as the Scottish ruler was marred by the constant interference of King Edward I’s constant meddling in the affairs of Scotland, he had become a puppet of the English monarch.

Edward had Scotland firmly under his control, and informed his King of Scotland to make ready troops and funds for an invasion of France and be ready by the 1st September 1294.

The Scottish King’s war council debated their involvement of taking part in this invasion, and devised a counter plan that would be in the best interests of Scotland.

Emissaries were sent to the court of King Philip of France, and informed of King Edward I intentions to invade their lands.  So it was, a treaty was hammered out to thwart Edward’s plan of invasion.  If Edward crossed the seas to invade France, Scotland would invade England assisted by the French.  In return Edward Balliol son of King John Balliol of Scotland would marry Jeanne de Valois, the niece of King Philip of France.

An additional treaty was also created between King Erik II of Norway.  They would supply one-hundred of their battleships for a four month period, whilst hostilities between England and France continued for the sum of 50,000 groats.

King John Balliol of Scotland informed King Edward I of England, that no Scottish warriors would take part in the invasion of France.

News reached the ears of King Edward I in the summer of 1295 that the Scots had created a treaty between themselves and France.

In October 1295, English northern defences were strengthened against a possible invasion from Scotland and so King Edward I ordered King John Balliol to release his control of castles and burghs of Berwick, Jedburgh and Roxburgh.

On the 16th October 1295, all King John Balliol estates south of the border were seized by King Edward I.

In the December of 1295, King Edward informed two hundred of his tenants at Newcastle to form themselves into a fighting unit in preparation for attacks by the armies of Scotland.

In the February of 1296, King Edward had amassed a fleet of ships off the East Anglian coastline, destined to sail north to Newcastle to assist his land forces.

King John Balliol summoned all Scots who could bear arms to converge at Caddonlee by 11th March 1296; this was in response to the English forces heading towards the border between their two countries.

Some nobles chose to reject the request; among those was Robert Bruce, the Earl of Carrick who had their estates seized by the crown, along with any who were known supporters of the English.

In Mid-March of 1296, the armies of England and Scotland faced each other across the border each eyeing one another up.  One Lord Wark, Robert de Ros left his English forces to join those of the Scots, all for the love of a Scottish lass.  He led a Scottish contingent in an ill-fated attempt to capture Wark castle.

On the 26th March 1296, the Earl of Buchan, one John Comyn attacked Carlisle, but the town’s defences, proved impenetrable.  In utter frustration he laid waste to dwellings not protected by the town’s defences.  On his route back to his homeland of Scotland, his army plundered and burned villages, monasteries and churches.

On the 30th March 1296 King Edward I had thirty thousand foot soldiers and a further five thousand cavalry lined up on the outskirts of Berwick.  He offered unconditional surrender, but he was taunted by the town’s inhabitants.  The battle was over quickly, as the garrison commander Sir William Douglas swore his allegiance to the English King.

It is said between seventeen and twenty thousand men, women and children were butchered by English warriors in three days of orgy and wanton destruction.

The news of the genocide committed at Berwick sent shock waves across Scotland.  By 5th April King John Balliol dispatched the Abbot of Arbroath to King Edward I, carrying a letter of withdrawing his allegiance to him and England.

On the 23rd April 1296, the Scottish army had seized Dunbar Castle.  Then on the 27th April, John Comyn led his Scottish forces against the English forces led by John de Warenne in the Lammermoor Hills at Spottsmuir, Dunbar.  With one single move, the Scots were out manoeuvred and 130 battle hardened nobles were captured, and England’s resistance in Scotland crumbled.

28th April 1296    Dunbar Castle surrendered to the English.

8th May 1296      Roxburgh Castle surrendered to the English.

In Mid-May, Jedburgh, Dumbarton, Edinburgh and Stirling Castle all surrendered to the English.  Then English warriors headed north clearing out those pockets of rebels who resisted the English, through Perth, Montrose and Aberdeen.

On the 2nd July 1296 King Balliol begged forgiveness of the English King and informed him it was his intention to abdicate from the Scottish throne.

On the 7th July 1296 King John Balliol at Stracathro admitted his errors publicly and confirmed his reconciliation with King Edward I.  On the 10th July he abdicated his post from the Kingdom of Scotland.  First at Brechin to the Bishop pf Durham, then at Montrose in front of King Edward I.

In August of 1296 John and Edward Balliol were incarcerated in the Tower of London, and John was later moved and placed under house arrest in Hertford.

King Edward I removed the Stone of Destiny from Scone, and had it placed in Westminster Abbey.  He removed the Scottish regalia which included the Black Rood of St.Margarets along with a number of official documents from Edinburgh.

On the 28th August 1296, Parliament was convened at Berwick where prominent Scottish landowners had to prove their rights to their estates in the form of documental evidence.

King Edward I left Scotland on the 19th September 1296, leaving his appointed English officials to govern his provinces in his name.

John de Warenne:              Governor of Scotland.

William Ormsby:                   Justiciar of Scotland.

Hugh Cressingham:             Treasurer of Scotland.