This is not about houses and gites and chateaux owned by English people, although if you added up how much property the English now own in France we are making a good effort at taking back what we lost in the 100 year war.
No, this is about the one hundred year war and the run up to it. The 100 year war ran from 1337 to 1453 which is 116 years and was fought between the French and the English. Now my contention is that the English never really owned any of France. Whilst it was Edward the third King of England who started the 100 year war the land they were fighting over came to us because originally William invaded England and beat Harold. William was the start of a line of so-called English Kings, s who spoke French, came from France and had vast possessions of land in France. Somehow English history has been written to say that these possessions were English.
Let’s look at this another way. Suppose that Hitler had won the second world war and took over Britain and set up a dynasty where he and his descendants ruled as monarchs.Three generations later after 100 years, his grandson Adolf the third would rule both Germany and England. Would that make Germany part of the UK?. This is how history portrays the possessions in France. Henry the second of England, William the Conqueror’s grandson who was married to Eleanor of Aquitaine, is suddenly classed as English and the lands he possesses in France therefore belong to the English. I don’t think so. I am fairly sure that Henry saw himself as French and that he thought of England as just another bit of land which his granddad had invaded and took over, where you could not get a decent cup of coffee and they could not make croissants..
So at what stage did these French ancestors of William stop regarding themselves as French and start thinking of themselves as English, enjoying a pint of bitter and fish and chips on a Friday night? After Henry, two of his sons became kings of England. The first was Richard the First who became known much later as the Lionheart. He was not bothered about England and indeed hardly spent any time at all in the country being too busy off on Crusades.
Then there was John and it is here that I think the tide might have turned somewhat because John lost a lot of his possessions in France to the French king and so was forced to base himself more in England. He did however have a French wife, the Countess of Angouleme, and he no doubt spoke French when he was drawing up Magna Carta and negotiating with Simon de Montfort. When he lost the crown jewels in the wash he is reputed to have said ‘Oh Merde’ not ‘Oh Shit’ suggesting he was still French at heart.
Even by the time we get to Edward third (1327 to 1377) who sort of started the one hundred year war, he was still somewhat French. His grandfather was Philip fourth, king of France and his mother was Isabella of France and he himself claimed to be heir to the French throne.
So where did it all end? Well we finally lost the last bit of France in 1558 and that was Calais but it was not till 1801 that English monarchs finally gave up on claiming to be both King of England and King of France!
By the way the photos of Gencay are what sparked all this off because the castle there was rebuilt by Geoffroy of Rancon after he sided with the French King Louis ninth in 1241. As a result of their victory over Henry third and Hugh of Lusignan he received a large dowry when he married Isabel Of Lusignan who was the very young daughter of Hugh of Lusignan who was also the father in law of Henry third of England. This being one of the precursors to the One hundred year war.
If you enjoyed this post you might like Eleanor……almost Queen of England
To see other photos I have taken click Alamy Photos