Edward IV’s claiming of the French Crown, 1472

With England at peace and little threat to his throne, Edward IV decided to resurrect the English claim to the French crown. He mooted the idea before the uprisings of 1469 but had squandered the monies granted by Parliament.

Edward IV requests funds for a campaign in France

Edward approached Parliament to ask for funding for a new expedition. Parliament was wary, given the previous grant had not been used for the intended purpose. It agreed on 30 November 1472 but on condition that it was to be released following muster and with deadlines in place for the last date of the expedition setting sail.

Continental support for an English Invasion of France

That Parliament even entertained such a grant is due to the planning that had made such an invasion viable. France and Normandy had been lost in part due to the collapse of support from continental powers.

Edward had sent envoys to negotiate with the key states who could make an invasion successful. An agreement was made with the powerful Duchy of Burgundy, which would see their army attack France at the same time as the English further to the west. This would split the French army and make victory and the road to Paris much more achievable. Agreements were also made with the Bretons. An assault by their forces, supported by some English archers, would have France attacked from the northeast on two fronts and from the west.

Parliament approves funds for a Campaign in France

Edward agreed on a truce with Scotland and negotiated with Castile and Aragon relating to trade with the French. He presented to Parliament a thoroughly planned campaign that resulted in the award of funds being made on 30 November 1472.

Context – England’s claim to the French Crown

Edward III had been the first King of England to claim the French crown. This act, among others, sparked the first phase of the Hundred Years War into life. From that declaration, stated in the 1330s but formally taken up through use of French royal titles in 1340, the Rnglish monarchy had, to a greater or lesser degree, asserted its sovereignty over France.

Henry V and the Conquest of Normandy

Under King Henry V the English had seized the upperhand in France. The 1415 Agincourt Campaign was followed by the conquest of Normandy. The French, hugely divided, agreed terms with Henry V. He would act as regent and replace the Dauphin as heir to the French throne. Henry V did not live long enough to see that happen. He died of disease whilst campaigning against forces loyal to the Dauphin. His son, Henry VI, did inherit his fathers place as heir to the French crown and in due course was proclaimed King of France. Henry VI was also crowned King of France, albeit in Paris rather than the traditional coronation location in Rheims.

Henry VI as King of France

Henry VI’s hold on France was precarious. His uncle. John Duke of Bedford, had acted as Regent of France until his death in 1435. As the duke passed away, so too did England’s alliance with Burgundy. From 1435 to 1453 English possessions in France were gradually diminished, before, in the late 1440s and 1450, the French managed to oust English forces from all of Northern France except Calais, and a reduced rump of Gascony around Bordeaux.

Fall of Gascony

Gascony finally fell in 1453. Following defeat in the Battle of Castillon, the French lay siege to Bordeaux. When it fell. England had lost the Hundred Years War and all continental possessions apart from Calais.

Retention of claims to the French Crown

Defeat did not mean that the claim to the French crown had been withdrawn though. The title remained in use, and many nobles yearned to revive their now lost French estates and incomes. Edward IV was no different. He had been born in Rouen, Normsndy, whilst his father commanded in France. The title was his, or at least an opportunity for glory and riches was on offer…

Featured Image

French coronation crown known as the Crown of Charlemagne from 1271. Via Wikipedia.

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