The bitter conflict between England and France we call The Hundred Years War, and lasting 116 years between 1337 and 1453, was fought over claims by the English kings to the French throne. By the end of this titanic struggle, it can fairly be said that the Middle Ages had come to an end. By the mid-15th century, in the place of feudal monarchies that had depended on the support of their vassals at the outbreak of the war, we find the genesis of the modern nation state with a stable, centralized government backed by a standing professional army, paid for by taxation.
Volume One briefly traces the causes of the conflict and then plunges straight ahead into the military preparations and initial clashes, mainly naval. Under what many consider the leadership of England's greatest sovereign, Edward III, Calais is seized as a port-of-entry for English arms and supplies. With Calais secure in his rear, Edward marches into the interior of France and comes to grips with Philip's army at Crécy in 1346, an epoch changing calamity for France. After numerous sieges, marches and smaller battles, the next French King, John II, is captured by Edward's son, the Black Prince, at the battle of Poitiers in 1356. By the time of Edward III's death in 1377, England controls a good third of French territory. But the French doggedly resist, and the war drags on into a desultory second phase lasting well into the early 1400s.
The Hundred Years War is a military history, and probably the finest English chronicle of these confusing events. Drawing upon all known English and French sources, A. H. Burne has assembled a stunning narrative that sweeps you into the military camps of the English and French kings. Volume 2 carries the story to its climactic ending in 1453.