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Qwiz5 Quizbowl Essentials - Hundred Years' War

From 1337-1453, England and France fought a series of wars that combined comprised the Hundred Years' War. The war was primarily between the English house of Plantagenet and the French house of Valois over who would rule the kingdom of France. Historians consider it to be the most significant military conflict of the Middle Ages.

A depiction of the Battle of Agincourt from the Hundred Years' War.Part of the Qwiz5 series by Qwiz Quizbowl Camp, written to help quiz bowl teams power more tossups!

By analyzing questions, you can see patterns emerge, patterns that will help you answer questions. Qwiz5 is all about those patterns. In each installment of Qwiz5, we take an answer line and look at five of its most common clues. Here we explore five clues that will help you answer a tossup on the Hundred Years' War.


One of the first important battles of the Hundred Years' War was the 1346 naval battle fought off the coast of the Flemish port of Sluys. The French navy suffered catastrophic losses, which many historians credit to the questionable French strategy of tying all their ships together.

BATTLE OF CRECY In the 1346 Battle of Crecy, English forces led by Edward the Black Prince defeated French forces led by Phillip VI. The English victory owed largely to their superior technology, specifically the longbow. During the battle, blind King John of Bohemia (who was fighting with the French) was killed. The victory allowed Edward to lay siege to the French town of Calais, an event commemorated in Rodin’s sculpture The Burghers of Calais.


Edward the Black Prince was also victorious at the 1356 Battle of Poitiers. At the battle, the English captured the French King John II and held him for ransom. John was released four years later by the terms of the Treaty of Bretigny, but during his capture, France sank into political chaos. This chaos allowed the rise of the Jacquerie, a peasant revolt led by William Cale.

BATTLE OF AGINCOURT The superiority of English longbows was also responsible for the English victory at the 1415 Battle of Agincourt. Despite being significantly outnumbered, English longbowmen were able to defeat the French forces due in large part to an extremely muddy battlefield that prevented the French from charging effectively. The mud was so deep, that many French soldiers literally drowned in mud when they fell in mud wearing heavy armor. At the battle, English forces were led by Henry V who motivated his troops with a rousing St. Crispin’s Day speech. The speech itself is lost to history, but it is a frequently-quoted centerpiece of Shakespeare’s play Henry V.


A rare French victory in the Hundred Years' War came at the 1429 English siege of the French town of Orleans. The French were able to break the siege due in large part to the efforts of Joan of Arc. She was later captured by the English and burned at the stake for heresy, a charge posthumously reversed by Pope Callixtus III.


Quizbowl is about learning, not rote memorization, so we encourage you to use this as a springboard for further reading rather than as an endpoint. Here are a few things to check out:

* Dive into King John’s capture at the Battle of Poitiers, his ransom, and the Treaty of Bretigny here.

* Episode 66 of the podcast Historically Thinking tackles the Hundred Years’ War. Check it out here.

* Want to know more about the Jacquerie? The interactive map and accompanying video found here walks you through the causes of the uprising.

* The YouTube channel Brick Dictator recreates some of history’s great battles in LEGO. Here’s the Battle of Poitiers!


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