The Loss of Ponthieu: Nationalism or Particularism
By E. Howard Shealy
Proceedings and Papers of the Georgian Association of Historians, Vol.20 (1981)
Introduction: The birth of European nationalism from amidst the carnage of the Hundred Years War has become one of the truisms of medieval history. After glorious victories at Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt the English ultimately lost all their holdings in France, went ome to their fog-bound little island, and proceeded to slaughter one another until Tudor usurpation brought an end to the Wars of the Roses. The French, once rid of the free companies or routiers, bound up their wounds and proceeded with the centralization of power begun by the Capetians. Indeed, rising nationalism has often been cited as one of the reasons for the expulsion of the English: good Frenchmen in the ‘occupied’ portions of the kingdom rallied to the fleur de lis and helped to drive out the invader. It is time this thesis was re-examined. Charles VII (1422-1461) was ultimately unsuccessful in his attempt to impose a centralized administration on France; instead he and his successors were forced to deal directly with the provincial estates. Furthermore, such a simplistic explanation of the expulsion of the English overlooks the regional character of France and its patchwork history. Is it reasonable to suppose that the same motives applied in those areas with a long history of English rule as in those only recently conquered?