Hundred Years WarHow did the Hundred years war affect the fast advance of Western Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries?
I would agree with pohnpei397 with regard to the fall of feudalism. There were several reasons for the downfall of feudalism. It was a major change to the way of life, most especially for the very poor. They barely survived (and often did not), worked to death to serve the powerful and mighty, kept from moving up economically because of the lack of work available to them. With the plague and the enornmous loss of people to support a feudal system, it fell apart. It was a "morally bankrupt" system, as Chaucer showed to some extent in The Canterbury Tales...in particular with the Church. There was no need to allow the peasants to improve their lives because controlling them was so much easier when they depended so much on feudal lords, and cheaper because lords didn't lose much to keep them . With the fall of feudalism, Europe advanced in large part due to an emerging middle class.
Another part of the Hundred Years War that affected Europe was the ensuing peace that arrived at its conclusion. It is easier to make money in peace time, especially when money is not being spent on advancing an army and paying to keep it going.
These things changed the face of Europe at an amazing rate.
The Hundred Year's War, lasting from 1337 to 1453, encapsulated the Black Death, which depopulated Western Europe between 1348 and 1350. The Plague is what broke the feudal system, as agricultural labor became scarce and expensive, allowing those survived and who had been formally tied to the land to strike their own deals where they pleased for their labor.
The Renaissance was well underway in Italy by mid-century; as others have suggested, once the long Anglo-Franco warfare ceased, their respective energies were free to join in the rebirth of the West.
By promoting nationalism, the war also promoted competition, and competition is often an impetus to advancement of all kinds. One might argue, however, that the cultural advancement of England was retarded by the war. The fifteenth century is not exactly a great period of English literature, for instance. It is only in the sixteenth century that the "English Renaissance" really begins.
I think I support the point made at the end of #3. I don't actually think that in the short term at least, the 100 Years War did actually help spur Europe on into a new golden age of development. It may have helped lay the foundations for later growth and development, but only through the destruction of older systems such as feudalism that stood as a barrier preventing growth.
War technologies developed as a result of all the sieges during the Hundred Year War. For example, the longbow came into prominence. This is significant because archers replaced armored knights as being preeminent in battle. This devaluation of the importance of knights and their mounts led to a deterioration in the feudal system that depended so heavily on the knighthood.
War has a way of sharpening the mind. When people are dealing with issues of life and death, the mind tends to innovate better. This is why so many engineering developments took place in the Hellenistic world, where there was so much warfare. In light of this, 100 years of war created great developments and these developments were implemented in other areas.
I'd say that it did that by helping to break feudalism. I think that the war helped to show the people just how morally bankrupt the whole feudal system was. In the next two centuries, the feudal system started to die away and be replaced by more centralized and rationalized government. This helped allow the fast advance to occur.
The rise of nationalism in both France and England is very notable. Because this war went on for so many years, multiple generations of people grew up with and lived through it and its effects on society which ultimately helped unify people even more than they already had been, especially in what was a less cohesive France.
War always leads to a period of instability. If a war lasts too long, people begin to lose faith in their leaders and system of government, including the Church. If you look at the time period you can see that this war ushered in a period of modernization of sorts for Europe.