What were the political and social consequences of the Hundred Years' War? 

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Hundred Years War spanned such a long period of time that many of its most important consequences were also related to other events that occurred during the same time. Many changes that took place may have happened without the war. But one of the major political legacies of the conflict was the growth of nationalism in both England and especially France. Both sides used propaganda to portray the other as brutal and savage, and both saw the emergence of what can best be described as a national consciousness. This accompanied the development of England and France into nation-states, with increased administrative and coercive powers over their populations. The conflict also had major demographic implications for France, where it coincided with major famines and epidemics, including the Black Death in the earlier years of the conflict. The labor shortage contributed to the weakening of the manorial relationships between lords and peasants. The social tensions unleashed by these changes were reflected in a number of peasant uprisings, most notably the Jacquerie. The feudal relationships around which both societies were organized were further corroded by  changes in warfare itself. The effectiveness of bowmen and new weapons using gunpowder meant that the days of heavy cavalry, were numbered. Since nobles had historically owed their status to their service as heavily armed knights, this weakened their claim on privilege. 

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Hundred Years' War actually refers to a series of conflicts occurring between 1337 and 1453. These conflicts, between reigning families of England and France, were significant in the way that they led to the formation of modern Europe. Separated by only the English Channel, England and France had always been closely linked. In antiquity, they were both part of the Roman Empire. The Norman Conquest of 1066 had transformed England by replacing the Anglo-Saxon elite with an Anglo-Norman one and dramatically changing the English language from Old English, which was primarily Germanic, to Middle English, which had a strong French influence. French became the language of the court.

The war itself marked a major revival of nationalism and the creation of distinct French and English identities. Especially as England began to lose its possessions on the Continent, a strong sense of cultural as well as political nationalism arose, grounded in rejection of the French, that persisted well into the 20th century in much of English popular culture.

Another major change is that the Hundred Years' War led to the military innovation of standing armies. For England, supporting a standing army and the high cost of foreign wars meant increased taxation, something that had to be approved by Parliament. This in turn led to increased power for the House of Commons.

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