In the next century, other reformers echoed similar demands, calling for the faithful to rely on the Bible and for limiting the role of the clergy. This new reform movement would split the Roman Catholic Church forever and transform Western Europe.

A map shows France during the Hundred Years' War.
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The English and French battled for control of France.

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What regions of France did England gain between 1337 and 1429?

The Hundred Years' War

On top of the disasters of famine, plague, and economic decline came a long, destructive war. Between 1337 and 1453, England and France engaged in a series of conflicts, known as the Hundred Years' War. The fighting devastated France and drained England.

Rival Powers: England and France

English rulers had battled for centuries to hold on to the French lands of their Norman ancestors. But French kings were intent on extending their own power in France. When Edward III of England claimed the French crown in 1337, war erupted anew between these rival powers. Once fighting started, economic rivalry and a growing sense of national pride made it hard for either side to give up the struggle.

Early Victories for England

At first, the English won a string of victories—at Crécy in 1346, Poitiers in 1356, and Agincourt in 1415. They owed much of their success not to braver or more skillful knights but to the longbow, a powerful new weapon wielded by English archers. The longbow was six feet long and took years to master. But it could discharge three arrows in the time a French archer with his crossbow fired just one. Its arrows pierced all but the heaviest armor.

The English victories took a heavy toll on French morale, or spirit. England, it seemed, was likely to bring all of France under its control. Then, in what seemed like a miracle to the French, their fortunes were reversed.

Joan of Arc

In 1429, a 17-year-old peasant woman, Joan of Arc, appeared at the court of Charles VII, the uncrowned king of France. She told him that God had sent her to save France. She convinced the desperate French king to let her lead his army against the English.

To Charles's amazement, Joan inspired the battered and despairing French troops to fight anew. In one astonishing year, she led the French to several victories and planted the seeds for future triumphs.

Joan paid for success with her life. She was taken captive by allies of the English and turned over to her enemies for trial. To discredit her, the English had Joan tried for witchcraft. She was convicted and burned at the stake. That action, however, only strengthened her value to the French, who saw her as a martyr. Much later, the Church declared her a saint.


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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments