How was terrorism used by the English to disrupt French resistance

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During the Hundred Years’ War, the English used something called a chevauchée to disrupt French resistance to their campaigns. In French, the word “chevauchée” literally means “horse charge,” and this gives us an image of the English, charging across France on horseback, to carry out these attacks.

A chevauchée...

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During the Hundred Years’ War, the English used something called a chevauchée to disrupt French resistance to their campaigns. In French, the word “chevauchée” literally means “horse charge,” and this gives us an image of the English, charging across France on horseback, to carry out these attacks.

A chevauchée was a well-planned and focused form of attack which consisted of raiding and pillaging towns and villages. Its purpose was two-fold: firstly, it was about laying waste to the land and thereby making it more difficult for the French to feed and maintain their army. Destroying the land also caused significant displacement among the civilian population. Secondly, it was about inflicting sheer terror on the French people, which gave the English a psychological advantage.

Here are some examples from this period:

  1. Between October and December of 1355, Edward, the Black Prince, conducted a chevauchée in towns and villages across Southern France. Because Edward used thousands of men in these raids and the scale of destruction was so high it is often called the “grande (large) chevauchée”.
  2. Perhaps because the first was so successful, the Black Prince carried out a second chevauchée in 1365. This time, he focused his raid on the Loire Valley, taking control of several towns along the way. In fact, this chevauchée led to the Battle of Poitiers in which the French king was captured.
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