Edward III and the Hundred Years War

edward III - 19th century image - New York Public LibraryEdward III and the Hundred Years War

By Tina Marie Spence

Mount Royal Undergraduate Humanities Review, Vol.1 (2013)

Abstract: During the reign of Edward III of England what became described as the Hundred Years War began in 1337. For the next forty years Edward III make specific decisions that allowed his country to stay in the war and kept money coming into the country. Through the strategic use of taxes, international loans and personal involvement in politics England emerged out of Edward III reign with a distinct move towards state building. The government saw numerous changes during the forty year reign of Edward III and the most important for the development of state building was the awareness of the commons that they had a unique role in parliament.

Introduction: The period historians call the Hundred Years War, stretching from 1337-1453, brought about a number of changes to England and France. The period is known for military advances, the chivalric writings of Geoffroi De Charny, the founding of the Order of the Star in France and the Order of the Garter in England, and Joan of Arc. The Hundred Years War also saw the early developments of national consciousness and state-building that allowed England to enter into the early modern period with a more defined sense of ‘national self’ than many other European countries. This paper will examine the reign of Edward III and how he influenced state building from 1327-1377. The Hundred Years War saw changes in the way that the crown of England taxed its subjects, acquired international loans, and was involved in Parliament, allowing for the early development of state-building to occur during the reign of Edward III.

Most historians agree that nationalism was a concept not present in Europe until the French Revolution in 1789. The Oxford English Dictionary defines nationalism a: “advocacy of or support for the interest of one’s own nation, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations. Also: advocacy of or support for national independence or self-determination.”1 English citizens at the start of the Hundred Years War did not have a sense of being “English” but rather identified generally with their specific communities or townships. State-building, for the purpose of this period, will be described as the steady emergence of a national identity. Due to the fighting with France, and the developing independence of Parliament the regional communities represented by the commons began to self-identify as part of the English Kingdom. Although Kingdoms were not nation states, England did begin to resemble one between 1327 and 1377, because the Parliament and monarchy began to function together as an independent political state where the people were connected by a common history.

Click here to read this article from Mount Royal Undergraduate Humanities Review

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