THE CENTURY OF WARThese two centuries form the period of transition from feudalism to pre-industrial era. The long war with France helped to form a sense of national identity: a native English culture was born and English became the official language of the country. This long war broke out after Edward III claimed the throne of France, but its real objective was to bring Flanders (the main English wool trade market) and Gascony (the chief supplier of wine and salt) under English control.
The long war is traditionally divided into three stages, with periods of uneasy truce between them: • The first stage was successful for England, because the English army consisted of well-organised professional soldiers, while the French army was an undisciplined feudal host. The French suffered two crushing defeats at Crécy and Poitiers, and gained large territories in France.• The second stage was successful for France: the French adopted the strategy of guerrilla war, and gradually reconquered the lost territory except for two ports.• The third stage : The war was resumed by Henry V, the second Lancastrian king: he dealt the French another crushing defeat at Agincourt and gradually extended his territory.
In 1420, he was acknowledged heir to the French throne. Though he died in 1422, the war continued and, in 1428, the French were defending their last stronghold at Orleans. The appearance of Joan of Arc in 1429, however, led to a French revival. The war dragged on for more than twenty years, until the battle of Chatillon finally ended it in 1453. The war exhausted England and led to political disruption, which enabled the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses.