Franco-English War 1294-1298

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The English King Edward I pays homage to the French King Philip IV. French miniature from the 15th century

The Franco-English War from 1294 to 1298 (French: Guerre de Guyenne , English: French War of 1294-1298 ) was a military conflict between England and France . The war, which resulted in fighting and campaigns in Gascony and Flanders, remained militarily undecided. It was not until 1303 that a peace treaty was finally concluded, in which the possessions were confirmed at the beginning of the war.


Starting position

The cause of the conflict was the dispute over the south-west of France Gascony , which as part of the Duchy of Aquitaine was a remnant of the Angevin Empire in the possession of the English kings. In the Treaty of Paris of 1259 , the French King Louis IX. recognized the property of the English king, at the same time recognized the English king Henry III. the French king as his liege lord. Although there were several small battles between French and English vassals on the borders of the region, which were punished differently by the respective overlords, after the Treaty of Paris there were initially no major disputes between the English and French kings. In the Treaty of Amiens in 1279 , the English King Edward I even received the Agenais , as had already been agreed in the Treaty of Paris. Ultimately, the French kings could not tolerate English territory in France, but the outbreak of open conflict was unexpected.

Conflicts between English and French seafarers

The real cause was probably violence by seafarers from the English Cinque Ports and by the crew of a ship from the Aquitaine Bayonne when they went ashore in French Normandy in 1292 . In retaliation, seafarers from Normandy attacked the region at the mouth of the Gironde , and English and Irish ships are said to have been attacked by French ships at sea. These attacks disrupted trade between England and France, so that the French King Philip IV declared in Bordeaux in 1293 that he had expressly forbidden the attacks. However, the attacks on English ships continued and on May 15, 1293, a large English convoy coming from Portsmouth was attacked by ships from Normandy at Cape Pointe de Saint-Mathieu off Brittany . Then there was another sea battle, which both sides were apparently looking for. The English seafarers remained victorious with great losses.

Failed diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict

The French king, under pressure from his brother, Charles of Valois , demanded the immediate release of the captured French seamen, while the English authorities tried to bring the matter to their courts. In May 1293, a high-ranking English embassy, ​​led by Edmund of Lancaster , the king's brother, and Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln, traveled to Paris to agree a truce. They were followed in July by a second delegation, which included several experienced lawyers, including Bishop Richard of Gravesend of London, Roger Brabanzon and William Greenfield . They suggested that the English king would compensate the French who had been harmed by English seamen, alternatively a commission made up of two French and two English should find a compromise or ultimately the dispute could be submitted to the Pope for mediation. The French, however, were uncompromising. They demanded the extradition of the city officials of Gascony and the position of a hundred Bayonne citizens as hostages, which the English officials in Gascony did not obey. Thereupon the French king appointed the English king Edward I in October 1293 as his vassal for January 1294 at his court, where he was to answer for the incidents. The English king refused to appear in person in Paris, but in January 1294 Edmund of Lancaster, assisted by the experienced official John de Lacy , made a new attempt at mediation in Paris. In confidential negotiations, Edmund suggested that his widowed brother Eduard Philipp's sister Margarethe should be married. As a token of his good will, he offered that France should occupy Gascony to calm public opinion in France, but should return the area to England after a short time. The French king revoked the summons of the English king. The French accepted the offer and in March 1294 John de Lacy traveled to Gascony to hand over all cities except Bordeaux to the French. But then the French king declared before his council that he would not surrender Gascony again and renewed the summons of the English king to the French parliament . Because of the non-appearance of the English king on May 19, the parliament declared his possessions in France forfeited. In a letter dated June 20, 1294, Edward I then terminated his fealty to the French king. But it was not until the beginning of August that, fearing attacks by the French on secular ambassadors, he sent four monks to Paris to deliver the letter. The monks were actually imprisoned before they were recognized as ambassadors.

This made open war between England and France inevitable. English diplomacy had failed completely, but apparently the English ambassadors had been deliberately deceived by Philip IV, who apparently did not shy away from open war.

The war in Gascony from 1294 to 1298

Preparations for the campaign

The English caught the war unprepared, and preparations for a campaign in south-west France took some time. For September 1st Edward I called his feudal army to Portsmouth, from there to send an army to south-west France. At the same time, however, he planned to attack France from the Netherlands, which is why he sent envoys to the Roman-German King Adolf von Nassau in June . To this end, he tried to win over numerous West German princes, but also some East French nobles, for an alliance directed against the French king. Eduard I had to tacitly accept that most of his English vassals refused to fight as an unpaid feudal army in his French possessions. Therefore he had to recruit mercenaries, so that a first English army could not leave Portsmouth for south-west France until October 9th. This vanguard was under the command of the young, inexperienced John II of Brittany , a nephew of the king, who was, however, placed by the experienced knight John de St John . This contingent was to be followed a little later by a larger army under the command of Edmund of Lancaster, while the king himself wanted to lead another army to the Netherlands.

Successful English campaign in 1294

The English vanguard under Johann von der Bretagne and John de St John first attacked the area around Cape Saint-Mathieu and the Île de Ré on the sea voyage to south-west France before reaching the Gironde estuary. There they conquered Castillon , Macau , Bourg and Blaye without much resistance . An attack on Bordeaux, which was meanwhile also occupied by France, was repulsed by the defenders, whereupon the English fleet sailed further up the Garonne . Podensac and Rions surrendered without resistance, and only then did the troops go ashore. While John of Brittany stayed in Rioms with William Latimer , St John moved south with part of the army, where Bayonne surrendered to him on January 1, 1295. The British attacks, carried out mainly with the help of the navy, had thus been extremely successful. The expected arrival of the larger army under Edmund of Lancaster was delayed, however, because Edward I only needed the troops to put down the uprising in Wales that began in September 1294 .

French counterattack of 1295

Against these English attacks, Charles of Valois launched a counter-attack in March 1295. While he was besieging Rioms, John Giffard , the commandant of Podensac, arranged the surrender of the city. Giffard negotiated the withdrawal of the English garrison while leaving the town's inhabitants to the vengeance of the French. They had 50 citizens executed by hanging. To calm the angry residents of Rioms, Ralph Gorges , the marshall of the English army, brought Giffard to justice. However, this led to a revolt among the English troops, before which John of Brittany and numerous knights fled on the ships of the English fleet. Then the French were able to conquer Rioms without much resistance, with several English knights, including Thomas de Turberville , being captured. Further south, Hugh de Vere had to surrender Saint-Sever after a valiant defense , but after the main French army had moved on, the English were able to quickly regain the city. In the summer of 1295, however, only the region around Bayonne and the besieged cities of Bourg and Blaye on the Gironde were owned by the English.

The naval war in the English Channel

In the summer of 1295, the French king hired shipbuilders from Genoa to build up a fleet and use it to wage a sea war against English ports. Dover was attacked and partly went up in flames, while an attack on Winchelsea could be repulsed thanks to a fleet from Yarmouth . The tense situation was exacerbated by the exposure of Thomas Turberville's betrayal. This had allegedly escaped from French captivity and returned to England. Then a letter was intercepted from him in which he wanted to send details about the English defense to France. Turberville, who had been trusted by the king as a knight of the royal household, was executed. King Edward I had already ordered the construction of 30 galleys to defend the southern English coast at the end of 1294. Now he strengthened the troops in southern England. He was ready for peace, as he had only just put down the uprising in Wales and a conflict with Scotland threatened. However, he was not ready to jeopardize his recently won supremacy over the British Isles by losing Gascony.

More fighting in Gascony

The tense situation in England meant that only in July 1295 a small contingent under John Botetourt could break out to reinforce the south-west of France. In August 1295, however, a group of magnates, led by the Earl of Arundel , refused to do military service in Gascony. Only when the king threatened them with high fines did they consent. From October a strong English army was finally mobilized and a transport fleet was assembled in Winchelsea and Portsmouth, but due to the illness of Edmund of Lancaster, the commander of the army, it did not set off for Gascony until January 1296. The English reached Bourgh and Blaye, but another attack on Bordeaux failed. If the French garrison failed, they apparently withdrew, whereupon some English followed them, but behind them the city gates were closed, whereupon they had to surrender. An attempt by the English to bribe some of the Bordeaux citizens to open the gates for them was also exposed. When the English besieged Saint-Macaire , the French garrison defended successfully until a French relief army under Robert II d'Artois lifted the siege. Eventually Lancaster fell ill and Bayonne died in early June 1296. The Earl of Lincoln now took command of the English troops, but achieved little by the end of the year. The English could only hold the southern part of Gascony with Dax , Saint-Sever and Bayonne. Neither side could achieve a victory, and their actions resulted in haphazard sieges and small skirmishes. When the Earl of Lincoln wanted to bring reinforcements and supplies to Bellegarde , the English army was ambushed by Robert II d'Artois on February 2, 1297. As was customary at the time, the English army marched in three columns. When the vanguard under St John wanted to leave a forest, they were suddenly attacked by the French. Lincoln tried to intervene in the battle with his middle column, but fleeing troops blocked the way. The fight lasted until dusk, but in the end Lincoln and Johann had to flee from Brittany, while St John and several other knights were taken prisoner by the French. He was not released until 1299 and did not return to southwestern France. In the summer of 1297 Lincoln undertook a Chevauchée as far as Toulouse , before an armistice was concluded in the autumn of 1297 after the failure of the English attack from Flanders.

Troop strengths

How strong the English army was in Gascony is unknown. The Earl of Lancaster's army, which rallied in Portsmouth in 1294, consisted of 1537 horses. Lancaster alone is said to have had at least 278 men in his entourage. The English paid a total of £ 37,051 to their knights and other horsemen, and a further £ 17,928 to English and Spanish infantrymen. But there were also considerable units from Gascony, who received £ 137,595 pay. Cities like Bayonne, Bourg, Blaye and Saint-Sever resolutely supported the English. From Bayonne alone the British received £ 45,763 credit. Bordeaux, on the other hand, initially remained firmly in French hands.

The campaign to Flanders

Diplomatic preparations for a landing in the Netherlands

Edward I can never have hoped to win the war by fighting in south-west France alone. Already at a council meeting in 1294, Bishop Antony Bek of Durham advised him to look for allies in the Netherlands in order to attack France from there. Bek then also included along with John of Sandford , the Archbishop of Dublin, as well as le Hugh Despenser and Nicholas Seagrave to the envoys, who should try to form an alliance with the Holy Roman King Adolf of Nassau and the Cologne archbishop Siegfried of Westerburg to conclude. The ambassadors promised Adolf von Nassau to pay him £ 40,000 by Christmas 1294 and to receive an additional £ 20,000 when the English king landed in the Netherlands. The Archbishop of Cologne was promised 10,000 marks and finally a further £ 2000, for which he wanted to support the English king with 1,000 horsemen. Duke Johann von Brabant , who was a son-in-law of the English king, wanted to provide 2,000 riders for a period of six months, for which he should receive 160,000 livres tournois (the equivalent of around £ 40,000). The Count of Geldern was promised 100,000 livres tournois, Count Florens V of Holland 80,000 livres. The Count von Katzenelnbogen and other German princes also joined the alliance against France. Count Heinrich von Bar had been married to a daughter of the English king since September 1293 and promised to provide at least 1,000 horsemen for the war against France against payment of 30,000 marks. Count Amadeus V of Savoy , who was related to Edward I , also supported the alliance. Due to the location of his county, Count Guido of Flanders played a decisive role in the anti-French alliance. Count Guido was a vassal of the French king, but he took up the plan, which had already been discussed since 1292, and concluded a marriage contract with the English king in 1294 for one of his daughters to the English Prince Edward . In addition, the English king promised him 200,000 livres tournois. As a feudal lord, the French king refused to agree to this wedding, so that the Anglo-Flemish alliance did not come about. Count Guido finally had to promise the French king his good behavior again and transfer his daughter to Paris, where she was housed in the Louvre . At the beginning of 1296, King Philip IV was able to achieve another diplomatic success when he concluded an alliance with Count Florens V of Holland on January 6, in return for the payment of 25,000 livres and an annual pension of 4,000 livres.

Delayed by the war with Scotland and involvement in the murder of the Earl of Holland

The failed alliances with Flanders and Holland prevented the English king from landing in the Netherlands in order to attack France with the support of his allies. In addition, there was the beginning war with Scotland , whose king John Balliol had concluded a defensive alliance with the French king in October 1295, the Auld Alliance . The English army then moved to Scotland in the spring of 1296 and was able to decisively defeat the Scots in April in the Battle of Dunbar . In July, John Balliol had to surrender. The English imposed a trade embargo not only on Flanders but also on the breach of treaty Holland, whose count was in conflict with the Duke of Brabant . They also supported the conspiracy of Johann von Cuyk , a vassal of the Duke of Brabant, who had Count Florens V captured. The Dutch count was murdered by Johann de Renesse and other nobles. The new count, Floren's young son Johann I , renewed the alliance with Edward I, influenced by British advisors, and was married to one of his daughters in early 1297. In Brussels, the English ambassador, Walter Langton , was able to obtain an assurance from John I of Chalon-Arlay and other nobles from the Free County of Burgundy that, in return for payment of 60,000 livres in the first year and 30,000 livres in each subsequent year, 500 horsemen for the war against France put.

French attack on Flanders

Count Guido found himself in a difficult position in Flanders when the cities of Lille , Bruges , Douai and Ypres, run by wealthy merchant families, turned against him to the Parlement in Paris. At the end of 1296, King Edward I sent envoys again, including Hugh le Despenser, to Flanders in order to negotiate a military alliance with the Count. The English negotiators succeeded in establishing an alliance with Flanders on February 5, 1297, when England promised Flanders 100,000 livres tournois and military support against the French king. King Philip IV of France responded promptly to this threat, since Flanders was a French fiefdom, and invaded Flanders in June 1297. In England, however, King Edward I was faced with a revolt by his war-weary magnates who refused to take part in a campaign in the Netherlands. He was finally able to leave for Flanders on August 22nd with only 895 riders and almost 8,000 infantry. At this point the war there was almost decided militarily. The French had conquered almost the entire county except for Ghent, Ypres and Douai. The English allies in Germany and the Netherlands had hesitated to go into the field against France without military support from Edward I. Only Count Walram von Jülich , together with some nobles from Brabant and other parts of Germany, raised a small army and supported the Count of Flanders. Their army was defeated together with the Flemish troops on August 20th by Robert II of Artois in the battle of Veurne .

English campaign to Flanders and armistice

The English fleet, which consisted of 273 ships, reached the mouth of the Zwin . There, however, there was fighting between the seamen from Yarmouth, which provides 59 ships, and the crews of the 73 ships of the Cinque Ports. Before the king could stop these fighting, at least 17 ships had been sunk. Edward I now had to fear that he would be given by a superior French army and moved to Bruges, where he met Count Guido. Since Bruges was only weakly fortified and there were also rumors of an impending uprising by the French-friendly citizens, the English and Count Guido moved on to Ghent at the beginning of September. There, too, threatened a revolt of the citizens, especially since there was looting by the undisciplined Welsh mercenaries in English service. The French were now preparing to siege Ghent. News of the Scottish victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge did not improve the situation of the English king. When Johann von Cuyk returned from a visit to the Roman-German King Adolf von Nassau in mid-October and reported that he had not assembled an army for a war against France, it was clear that Edward I could not win the war in Flanders either. Through the mediation of the new Archbishop of Dublin, William Holtham , who had studied in Paris, the French king could be induced to agree to the armistice negotiations. After five days of negotiations, on October 9, 1297 an armistice was concluded in Vyve-Saint-Bavon until December 7, in which the Count of Flanders was included.

Withdrawal of the English from Flanders

In the armistice it was agreed that the British should withdraw from Flanders immediately. However, this was not easy to implement because, on the one hand, the Flemings still expected military support, and on the other hand, the English allies were waiting for the funds promised to them. Despite his military weakness, Edward I was able to extend the armistice in December. At the beginning of February 1298, citizens of Ghent tried to take the English king off guard in the city, take him prisoner and hand him over to the French king. At dusk the city gates were closed so that the English infantry housed in the suburbs could not support the king immediately. Fierce fighting broke out within the city walls, in which numerous Englishmen were killed. But then the English infantry could break open a city gate and decide the battle. Subsequently, however, there were cruel riots and looting, for which Edward I had numerous soldiers executed. Allegedly, Bishop Antony Bek had to prevent him from further executions. On February 5th the king sent messengers to England to raise funds. After he had received this and was able to pay his most urgent debts in early March, the king left Flanders and landed in Sandwich on March 15th .

Further course of the peace negotiations

After the withdrawal of the English troops from Flanders, the further negotiations on compensation claims and the feudal relationships proved to be difficult, so that finally both sides agreed to an arbitration by Pope Boniface VIII . On June 27, 1298, the Pope declared an indefinite peace, through which the pre-war state should be restored in Gascony. In order to seal the peace, the Pope brokered the marriage of King Philip's sister Margaret of France with King Edward I, which was proposed as early as 1294, as well as that of Edward I's son Edward with Philip's daughter Isabelle . Isabelle's wedding was not due to take place until she reached the marriageable age of twelve. The English king withdrew from his support for Flanders, while the French stopped supporting the Scottish struggle for independence. The Flemish negotiators were deeply bitter at the breach of loyalty by the English king, who apparently turned them over to the French. In June 1299 the French and English negotiators reached an agreement that was confirmed a little later by the two kings. In September 1299 Edward I married Margaret of France. Despite these rapprochements, all sides could not agree on a formal peace treaty, especially since the Pope was increasingly critical of the English war with Scotland. France delayed the return of the occupied territories of Gascony. Although the English continued to pay monies to their former allies until 1306, the promised sums were never paid in full. For the battles and negotiations that took place between 1294 and 1298, Edward I presumably spent the immense sum of around £ 750,000 for which he had basically achieved nothing. The French war costs were probably even higher.

King Edward I and Margaret of France. Representation from the 14th century

Another war in Flanders from 1300 and peace between France and England

When the armistice expired in January 1300, the Flemish war flared up again, while there was no new fighting in Aquitaine. The English king was extremely burdened by the Scottish War of Independence and had already had to make concessions to his barons in 1297 in order to get their support for this war. A French army under Karl von Valois occupied all of Flanders and took Count Guido and his son Robert into knightly custody. In May 1301, King Philip IV toured the country as ruler with all pomp. However, the high cost of the French occupation led to tensions in the cities as the burdens on the citizens were unevenly distributed. In Bruges and Ghent, angry citizens plundered the houses of the urban patricians. The French governor Jacques de Châtillon then occupied both cities. At dawn on May 18, 1302, the so-called Bruges Morning Mass took place , during which several hundred French soldiers were probably killed by the population in their quarters. The following French penal campaign ended on July 11, 1302 in the catastrophic defeat of the Spore Battle at Kortrijk . When the citizens of Bordeaux heard of the French defeat, they drove out the French garrison and opened the gates to the English troops. In order to be able to use all available forces against Flanders, France concluded the Treaty of Paris with England in May 1303 , in which it confirmed England's possession of Gascony against the feudal oath of the heir to the throne Edward.

France was able to defeat the Flemings on August 18, 1304 at the Battle of Mons-en-Pévèle . In June 1305, however, it had to accept in the Treaty of Athis-sur-Orge that Robert, who was still in French captivity, would succeed his late father Guido as Count of Flanders.


  • Ronald H. Fritze; William B. Robison: Historical Dictionary of Late Medieval England, 1272-1485 . Greenwood, Westport 2002. ISBN 0-313-29124-1 , pp. 215-216
  • John A. Wagner: Encyclopedia of the Hundred Years War . Greenwood, Westport 2006. ISBN 0-313-32736-X , pp. 9-11

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Michael Prestwich: Edward I. University of California, Berkeley 1988, ISBN 0-520-06266-3 , p. 376
  2. ^ Michael Prestwich: Edward I. University of California, Berkeley 1988, ISBN 0-520-06266-3 , p. 377
  3. Michael Prestwich: Edward I. University of California, Berkeley 1988, ISBN 0-520-06266-3 , p. 379
  4. ^ Michael Prestwich: Edward I. University of California, Berkeley 1988, ISBN 0-520-06266-3 , p. 381
  5. Malcolm Vale: St John, Sir John de (d. 1302). In: Henry Colin Gray Matthew, Brian Harrison (Eds.): Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , from the earliest times to the year 2000 (ODNB). Oxford University Press, Oxford 2004, ISBN 0-19-861411-X , ( license required ), as of 2004
  6. ^ Michael Prestwich: Edward I. University of California, Berkeley 1988, ISBN 0-520-06266-3 , p. 381
  7. ^ Michael Prestwich: Edward I. University of California, Berkeley 1988, ISBN 0-520-06266-3 , p. 385
  8. ^ Michael Prestwich: Edward I. University of California, Berkeley 1988, ISBN 0-520-06266-3 , p. 388
  9. ^ Michael Prestwich: Edward I. University of California, Berkeley 1988, ISBN 0-520-06266-3 , p. 396
  10. Michael Prestwich: Edward I. University of California, Berkeley 1988, ISBN 0-520-06266-3 , p. 400