Monday, April 13, 2009

Wars of Edward III

By the Salic law, as the lawyers called it, the crown was given, on the death of Charles IV., to Philip, Count of Valois, son to a brother of Philip IV., but it was claimed by Edward III. of England as son of the daughter of Philip IV. Edward contented himself, however, with the mere assertion of his pretensions, until Philip exasperated him by attacks on the borders of Guienne, which the French kings had long been coveting to complete their possession of the south, and by demanding the surrender of Robert of Artois, who, being disappointed in his claim to the county of Artois by the judgment of the Parliament of Paris, was practising by sorcery on the life of the King of France. Edward then declared war, and his supposed right caused a century of warfare between France and England, in which the broken, down-trodden state of the French peasantry gave England an immense advantage. The knights and squires were fairly matched; but while the English yeomen were strong, staunch, and trustworthy, the French were useless, and only made a defeat worse by plundering the fallen on each side alike. The war began in Flanders, where Philip took the part of the count, whose tyrannies had caused his expulsion. Edward was called in to the aid of the citizens of Ghent by their leader Jacob van Arteveldt; and gained a great victory over the French fleet at Sluys, but with no important result. At the same time the two kings took opposite sides in the war of the succession in Brittany, each defending the claim most inconsistent with his own pretensions to the French crown—Edward upholding the male heir, John de Montfort, and Philip the direct female representative, the wife of Charles de Blois.

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