A Social History of the Hundred Year's War (1337-1453) (10 weeks)
S 2017

The Hundred Years' War was a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Plantagenet, rulers of the Kingdom of England, against the House of Valois, rulers of the Kingdom of France, over the succession of the French throne. Each side drew many allies into the war. It was one of the most notable conflicts of the Middle Ages, in which five generations of kings from two rival dynasties fought for the throne of the largest kingdom in Western Europe. The war marked both the height of chivalry and its subsequent decline, and the development of strong national identities in both countries.

In France, civil wars, deadly epidemics, famines, and bandits reduced the population drastically. English political forces over time came to oppose the costly venture. The dissatisfaction of English nobles resulting from the loss of their continental landholdings became a factor leading to the civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses (1455–1487). Without its continental possessions, England was left with the sense of being an isolated nation which profoundly affected its outlook and development for more than 500 years.
In this SDG we will study the realities of battle and the conditions of those compelled to live in occupied territory; the roles played by clergy and their shifting loyalties to king and pope; and the influence of the war on developing notions of government, literacy, and education. We will meet vivid and well-known characters—Henry V, Joan of Arc, Philippe the Good of Burgundy, Edward the Black Prince, John the Blind of Bohemia, and many others—as well as a host of ordinary individuals who were drawn into the struggle. While neither a narrative political history nor a study of daily life, our core book instead focuses on the ways the war affected different groups, among them knights, clerics, women, peasants, soldiers, peacemakers, and kings. The book achieves a good balance between accessibility and scholarly rigor.

This is a 10 week SDG. There will be no class May 29, Memorial Day. The last session will be July 10 or July 17, to be determined at pre-meeting.