The English and French fought their first of several wars in the Hundred Years War, which lasted from 1337 to 1453.
It’s remembered today as the first source of animosity between the English and the French. It’s also remembered as a nationalistic war, as between those two countries.
The reality was a bit more complicated. It was between Kings, not countries, at least to start.
The English remember the war mostly because of the Battle of Agincourt, and they remember this mostly because of Shakespeare, who featured the battle prominently in his play “Henry V.” The myth of the battle is that the English army of freemen under Henry V was retreating, and at Agincourt the French nobles attacked. The story goes that English longbowmen planted wooden stakes and took advantage of the muddy field after the rain. The French were said to be bickering nobles, sweltering in heavy armour. The French charged headlong at the English, but were slowed by being weighed down in mud and armour. The English longbows, with their long, heavy draw, pierced plate armour easily and added to slowing the French advance.
The moral of the story is that an organized English force of professional soldiers triumphed over traditional armour knights and nobles of the French. It’s a nice story for a play, but the reality was much less one-sided.
The French remember the war because of Jeanne d’Arc, or Joan of Arc. The story goes of a French peasant girl who gets a vision from God that she would lead the French to liberate their country from the marauding English. She would lead them to several successes, but would be ultimately betrayed by courtly intrigue and the House of Burgundy, who burned her at the stake for being a witch.
Historical accounts of Jeanne vary, and if it weren’t for the fact that the period is reasonably well documented she might be as mythological a figure as King Arthur. She herself didn’t lead the French armies, but she was a significant morale boost. She’s often portrayed as a French patriot, but it would be much more fair to say she was a religious nut during a very religious period, when the English were largely winning and the French sought and found an apparent sign that God was behind the French.
Apologies for any inaccuracies. Medieval history is not my favourite period.