The year 1453 marked the end of an intermittent yet seemingly endless series of wars between the Kingdom of France and the Kingdom of England that, some four hundred years later, was dubbed the Hundred Years War. Depending on how you count even the most conservative estimate of its beginnings would make it longer than that. This conflict led to numerous changes in the life of not only Kings, but in those of men and women; of warriors, priests and peasants; landowners, great and small; ladies, nuns, and housewives; and prisoners of war, and the poor in their infinite variety.
Writing in the midst of this turmoil, after the defeat and capture of the King Jean II of France at the Battle of Poitier, a chronicler wrote:
…From that time on all went wrong with the Kingdom and the state was undone. Thieves and robbers rose up everywhere in the land. The nobles despised and hated all others and took no thought for the mutual usefulness and profit of lord and men. They subjected and despoiled the peasants and the men of the villages. In no wise did they defend their country from enemies. Rather did they trample it underfoot, robbing and pillaging the peasants’ goods…
With me to explain this dreadful period, and its many consequences is David Green, author of The Hundred Years War: A People’s History, published by Yale University Press. A Senior Lecturer in British Studies and History at Harlaxton College, he has published several earlier studies on other aspects of the Hundred Years War.