Teaching Students About the Causes Of the 100 Years’ War


The 100 Years’ War, a series of conflicts between England and France from 1337 to 1453, significantly shaped the course of European history. For educators looking to teach students about this pivotal era, it’s crucial to emphasize the underlying causes and motives that fueled the events in this long-lasting conflict. This article will discuss the main reasons for the 100 Years’ War and offer insights into effective strategies to teach students about these tumultuous times.

1. Dynastic Struggles:

One of the primary causes of the 100 Years’ War was a struggle for power between the ruling dynasties of England and France. The root of this struggle can be traced back to 1066 when William, Duke of Normandy, invaded England and became King William I. This connection meant that English kings held titles in France, setting up a complex web of alliances and obligations.

Teaching Strategy: Encourage students to create a timeline or family tree highlighting crucial events and players in both royal families. Ask them to describe how these relations contributed to tension between the two countries.

2. Control Over Land and Resources:

The English monarchs held significant territories in what was then Western France, which led to continuous disputes over ownership and control. These territorial battles contributed to an ongoing sense of competition between England and France.

Teaching Strategy: Assign students a specific territorial dispute during this period, such as that over Gascony or Flanders. Ask them to research and present on how these disagreements contributed to the outbreak of war.

3. Cultural Differences:

With their distinct cultures and languages, English and French nobles often struggled to integrate into one another’s courts, exacerbating existing tensions. This lack of unity reinforced nationalist sentiments on both sides.

Teaching Strategy: Have students examine examples of art, literature, or fashion from both countries during this period. Ask them to compare and contrast the styles and themes and discuss how these differences may have influenced attitudes towards the opposing nation.

4. Economic Rivalries:

Economic competition, especially in the lucrative wool trade, further inflamed tensions between the two countries. The English-dominated wool industry relied heavily on exports to Flanders, a region controlled by the French monarchy.

Teaching Strategy: Organize students into groups representing England and France, and have them negotiate a hypothetical trade agreement over wool or other prominent resources of the period. This exercise will help students understand how economic rivalries played a role in sparking conflict.


Teaching students about the causes of the 100 Years’ War requires delving into complex issues of dynastic struggles, territorial disputes, cultural differences, and economic rivalries. By engaging them in interactive activities that investigate these factors, educators can provide a comprehensive understanding of this critical period in European history. Additionally, these teaching strategies foster critical thinking skills as students analyze historical events and draw connections to contemporary conflicts.

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