The ‘Hundred Years War’ is, strictly speaking, an invention of historians. The phrase ‘Guerre de Cent Ans’ first occurs in print in France in 1823, and was later taken up with enthusiasm in England.1 Thenceforward the term has enjoyed universal acceptance in popular and academic circles alike. By the time it was coined, much ink had already been expended on the Anglo-French conflicts of the later middle ages. Even within the period itself, the wars formed the predominant subject of many narratives, and these in turn provided the principal materials for historians of subsequent centuries. Thus there is much to read, even if some of it, both medieval and later, is blatantly derivative or prejudiced. In this study we can outline only the main themes of the subject’s historiography. As we shall see, many influences played on those who wrote about the wars in the past: the sources at their disposal; their patriotic or political sympathies; their purpose in writing; their expected audience; and the view of ‘history’ which obtained at the time of writing.
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