How will these resources help you?

This long war between mediaeval England and France (1337–1453) is relevant to Britain’s fluctuating relationship with continental Europe and touches on sensitive issues, such as shifting national identities and migration in an age of Brexit and the growing influence of the far right. Its continued significance is made clear by looking at how later generations of nationalist writers in England and France have shaped the identities of both countries with references to victories over their ancient enemy – 'the other'. For example, when a theatre or film audience in Britain views Shakespeare’s Henry V, they see the Hundred Years’ war replayed through the prism of his victory at Agincourt, while the French still commemorate their soldier-saint Joan of Arc as a liberator. Yet neither side chooses to remember much about their own defeats. 

An overview

The Hundred Years' War: 1337–1453

by Anne Curry, published by Osprey Publishing, (2002), 9781841762692

This survey of the Hundred Years' War by the eminent mediaeval historian Dr Anne Curry gives an excellent outline of the conflict. It charts the war in clear detail, from its origins – Edward III of England’s claim to the throne of France in 1337 – to its end – the final expulsion of the English from Gascony after the battle of Chatillon in 1453. The book reveals much about the changing nature of warfare and the effects of the conflict across the generations. It is helpful in establishing the chronology of the war, particularly how it was punctuated by years of intermittent peace treaties and truces, making clear that 'the Hundred Years' War' was a term imposed by historians long after the time.

The English national myth of the Hundred Years' War

Agincourt: Myth and Reality 1415–2015

by Stephen Cooper, published by Pen and Sword, (2014), 9781848844629

This thoroughly researched book shows clearly how one English victory over the French (at Agincourt in 1415) turned Henry IV of England into a national icon over the centuries. It is also invaluable for understanding how the French viewed this disastrous defeat, known as Azincourt, at the time and how it has been remembered (if at all) in French national historiography. In turn, the example of this single battle and its victor also sheds light on how the Hundred Years' War as a whole has helped to shape English and French national identities in both countries.

The French national myth of the Hundred Years' War

Joan of Arc: A History

by Helen Castor, published by Faber, (2015), 9780571284634

This gripping biography of the teenage warrior, who led an army to a significant victory against the English, is a counterpoint to Cooper's book on Henry IV and Agincourt. It demonstrates both the contested nature of French nationality in France during the Hundred Years' War and Joan's role in the development of differing perceptions of French nationality over the centuries since her death.

Audiovisual clips

Chivalry and Betrayal: The Hundred Years War - Aftermath of the Hundred Years War

published by BBC, (2013)

The Hundred Years War was not just a political one, but it also questioned the French and English identity. This video explores why this happened.
Chivalry and Betrayal: The Hundred Years War - Beginnings of the hundred years war

published by BBC, (2013)

A look at the events which led to the Hundred Years War.
Chivalry and Betrayal: The Hundred Years War - Chivalry

published by BBC, (2013)

Knights fighting in the Hundred Years War had very specific rules they had to adhere to, regardless of what side they belonged to. This clip examines the manuscripts these rules can be found in.
Chivalry and Betrayal: The Hundred Years War - Distinctive English Architecture

published by BBC, (2013)

Architecture was one of the aspects which the British used to establish their own identity and emancipate from the French influence. This clip shows practical examples of English Gothic buildings.
Chronicle: The Making of a Saint: the story of Joan of Arc - Chronicle: The Making of a Saint: the story of Joan of Arc

published by BBC, (1978)

How was the legend of Joan of Arc born? What did it represent to the French soldiers and population? This clip answers these questions.

Further Materials


Interpreting Agincourt: KS3 Scheme of work by Richard Kerridge and Andrew Wrenn, published by The Historical Association, (2016) Download from website
Remembering Agincourt: Bilingual Enquiry by Andrew Wrenn and Becky Kitto, published by The Historical Association, (2016) Download from website
These dip-in, open-access online resources were created by the Historical Association to coincide with the Agincourt 600 campaign, commemorating the 600th anniversary of the famous English victory during the Hundred Years’ War. The resources show how the war shaped English and French national identities over the centuries and model how to teach the same event from the perspective of different participants.
Andrew Wrenn is an honorary fellow, teacher fellow and recent trustee of the Historical Association. He is a former LA History advisor and co-wrote the HA’s report on Teaching Emotive and Controversial History 3–19.

Text © Andrew Wrenn, 2020.