4.2 100 Years War: Caroline Phase

The Caroline Phase takes its name from the king of France at the time, Charles V. The Edwardian Phase of the Hundred Years' War was ended through a peace trcharles veaty. Nonetheless, Charles V didn't waste time looking for a way to pick another fight with England.

Charles didn't have to look for long. He found a "legal" excuse to break the peace; and that excuse came in 1369 when the Black Prince disobeyed a command from Charles V to come to Paris and pay homage to the French king. Technically speaking, the king of England (and his son) owed allegiance to the French king. The English leaders were therefore obligated by feudal custom to pay their respects. By not paying homage the Black Prince (Edward IV) broke with feudal custom. Charles used this as an excuse to renew the war with England.

During the reign of Charles V the English were steadily pushed back.  Much of the territory lost by France during the previous phase of the war was recovered. Several important generals switched sides from the English to the French side during this time. In particular, Bertrand du Guesclin of Brittany (one of England's more powerful allies) switched sides and proved to be one of Charles V’s most successful generals.

Caroline PhaseDu Guesclin organized and carried out a series of guerilla wars against the English.  He recommended to the French king the use of Fabian Tactics. Fabian tactics meant the French would avoid any large scale battles against the English like the Battle of Crecy or Poiters. Instead, the French used small-scale ambushes, hit and run attacks, etc. and wore down the English invaders. Fabian tactics are frustrating if you are the invader because you enemy refuses to fight you out in the open in a decisive battle. Fabian tactis are intended to make the invader give up because of the cost of occupying the land is more expensive than the benefits conferred through occupation.

These tactics prevented the English from gaining a decisive victory. The English responded to the French approach by undertaking several destructive military expeditions called chevauchées. The English used chevauchées to force the French to come out and fight them in a major battle. Du Guesclin, the French commander, did not take the bait. Rather, he continued to bleed the English slowly and surely.

Near the beginning of the Edwardian Phase, the English navy defeated the French in a naval battle in the English Channel. From that point on the English controlled the channel between England and France; however, the situation changed when the English were defeated on June 23rd, 1372, at another naval battle near the coastal community of La Rochelle. The French won the Battle of La Rochelle for basically two reasons: firstly, the French had capable allies in the Spanish. Spanish ships, compared to English, were far more maneuverable. Also, the English were not known (yet) for their naval abilities. Instead, their best and greatest forces were land-based. The English naval commanders lacked the ships and skill to confront the superior French-Spanish force. Following their defeat at La Rochelle, England was essentially cut off from Gascony (one of its last remaining holdings in France).

black prince tombTHE BLACK PRINCE DIES
In 1376, the Black Prince died. The following year his father, Edward III, died (1377). For the next thirteen years of war England lacked effective leadership. French King Charles V died in September 1380 and was succeeded by his underage son, Charles VI, who was placed under the joint regency of his three uncles. Joint regency basically means that although Charles VI was king he did not rule; his uncles ruled in his name until he became of age.

In 1377, the Black Prince’s son, Richard II, assumed the throne of England. Richard, however, was unable to successfully challenge the French in Europe. He was too busy trying to consolidate his power and rule back in England. In fact, the situation was so bad for Richard II that he was eventually deposed by his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke. With Richard II removed from the English throne the Plantagenet Dynasty came to an end. Bolingbroke belonged to the House of Lancaster. In 1399, Bolingbroke became Henry IV of England. He was the first of the Lancastrian kings (who just so happened to be married to a Plantegent).