Describe the treatment of the French by the English invaders during the Hundred Years' War.

The treatment of the French by the English invaders during the Hundred Years' War was brutal. The English routinely destroyed entire towns and killed French peasants in large numbers. This policy, known as chevauchées, was aimed at denying the French access to their resources and drawing them into open battle. As a result, untold suffering occurred in France throughout the war.

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Throughout the Hundred Years' War, the treatment of the French populace by the English tended to be brutal and cruel. This was particularly the case in Brittany, Normandy, and Gascony, where much of the war was fought. English mercenaries routinely pillaged French towns for supplies before and after battles, and they left destruction in their wake.

In fact, early in the war, King Edward III purposely instituted a policy of terror in English occupied lands. This strategy, known as chevauchées, involved the wholesale destruction of French towns and villages with the aim of denying the enemy access to their resources and drawing them out of their castle strongholds into open battle. In the process, countless French civilians died or lost all that they had. With fields burned and granaries looted, many French civilians succumbed to starvation. When the English encountered French nobles, they often took them hostage and held them for ransom. However, peasants could not afford to pay ransoms and English mercenaries often found it more expedient and cost-effective to kill them instead. Frequently, these chevauchées were conducted by small raiding parties. However, on several occasions, entire English armies would roam the French countryside conducting scorched-earth style attacks on the French populace.

The English also deliberately displaced French civilians who they considered antagonistic (or even just neutral) to their interests. These civilians were expelled from their land with little warning and no aid. They would be replaced by civilians who were considered to be more trustworthy and willing to collaborate with the English invaders.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 30, 2020
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