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The United Kingdoms and Duchies of England, France, Normandy, Aquitaine, Wales, and Ireland, commonly Anglia or Angleterre, is a large constitutional monarchy located in Western Europe, although scattered colonial territories, mainly in Africa and the Caribbean, also exist. A global power, its culture and language were widely influential internationally, and Norman French remains the language of international commerce and diplomacy. Anglia arose initially from the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern Britain, which eventually united to form England under the House of Wessex. Seized by the Norman duke William the Conqueror, the kingdom expanded under him and his capable descendants to include a series of disparate territories stretching from Aquitaine in the south to Ireland in the northwest. Under Edward III, his successor John I, and Henry IV, Anglia warred against and defeated its great rival, France, in the War of the Seine, finally defeating it in conjunction with Burgundy. Although the remnants of France were briefly subordinated to the English crown as the Duchy of Île-de-France, the two crowns were combined in the 1500s. Anglia founded a large and successful colonial empire, but found itself facing challenges nearer to home, notably from its northern neighbour, Scotland, and from Burgundy on the continent.
Continental Wars and Military Success
Under Edward III and his son, the Edward the Black Prince, the Anglian kings laid claim to the throne of France. The death of Charles IV of France, the last Capetian king, left Edward the closest male relative through his mother, Isabella, the dead king's sister, but the throne was claimed instead by Philip of Valois, who was crowned as Philip VI of France. Under Philip, the French pressed Anglian continental possessions in Gascony, forcing Edward to pay homage to the French king for them. Tensions rose, and finally Philip sequestrated Aquitaine and proclaimed a call to arms; in response, Edward summoned his vassals and prepared to invade France. His fleet defeated the French one at Sluys in 1340, and he landed in France, campaigning in Normandy and Gascony. In 1346, he took Caen by surprise, then advanced on Calais. He was attacked by Philip near Crecy on the Somme, but the French suffered a devastating defeat; English longbowmen proving vastly superior to French armoured, mounted knights. Edward took Calais, while his Northumbrian vassals smashed a Scottish invasion at Neville's Cross.
The onset of the Black Death precipitated a pause in the war; Philip, meanwhile, died of the plague, and was succeeded by his son John. In 1356 a new English offensive led by the Black Prince out of Gascony defeated a second French army at Poitiers, taking John captive. Although another English offensive failed to deal a final blow to the tottering Valois kingdom, being devastated by a hailstorm, the two countries signed the Treaty of Bretigny in May 1360, by which Aquitaine, Calais and Gascony were ceded to England and severed from French feudal authority.
The two countries now enjoyed a period of peace; however, the Black Prince and Edward III died in rapid succession in 1376 and 1377. The Black Prince's son, the ten-year-old Richard of Bordeaux, was crowned Richard II in 1377. The Anglian nobles swiftly fell into infighting, enabling the French under the newly-crowned Charles V to retake many of their lost territories, even seizing Gascony. Charles V died in 1381, and his insane son, Charles VI, succeeded to the throne. It suited both nations to maintain the peace; to cement their non-aggression, Richard II agreed to go on crusade in Livonia with the king's brother, Louis of Orleans, and his uncle, John the Fearless of Burgundy. The insane king himself remained in Paris. This proved an unwise decision for all parties; the crusaders were defeated at the Battle of Allenburg by a Livonian force, with only John the Fearless surviving.
The succession thus fell to John of Gaunt, the powerful brother of the Black Prince, who successfully crowned himself John I of England in 1393. France, meanwhile, was in chaos, with the insane Charles stripped of his major backers and facing revolts by noble and peasant alike. John resumed the war in 1395; mainly, he saw a convenient opportunity to gain territory, but he also hoped to unify the nation against a foreign enemy and gain plunder that could enable him to pay off some of the insolvent Richard's debts. However, he enjoyed unexpected success in an invasion of Normandy; no one in France had the authority or desire to raise an army, enabling John to seize control of Normandy and much of Maine and Artois. He signed a truce with the French in 1397, by which he wed his son, Henry of Lancaster, to Isabella of Valois, the daughter of Charles. In 1399, John died while on campaign in Gascony; he was succeeded by his son, Henry IV. Henry camp gained further, seizing Aquitaine and Gascony from the French, but was also forced to deal with revolts in Wales. These were suppressed by around 1410, when Henry IV died at Bordeaux; he was succeeded by his son, Henry V.
Henry fortified the frontiers with France heavily and launched a series of devastating raid sin to the Ile-de-France and the heartland of the Valois monarchy. He also opened contacts with Burgundy, which, under John the Fearless, had been making its own bid for power in France, trying to install himself as regent. The despoiled remnants of the French kingdom were losing their allure for him; Henry's offer of large territories. The two signed an alliance and jointly besieged Paris in 1415; the city fell, and the mad French king, as well as his heir and several of his other sons and daughters, were captured. Henry and John proceeded to divide up remnant French territories; John agreed to recognize Henry as king of France, assuming he could convince Charles to concede such; in return, Henry would abandon French feudal jurisdiction over Burgundy, cede the Dauphiné, and grant most of Champagne, and Languedoc, to the House of Burgundy, albeit still subject to France. Meanwhile, the French king's heirs were taken to London, where they vanished into the Tower of London, and shortly afterward, according to rumour, poisoned and buried secretly. Although John of Touraine briefly carried on the war from the south, he became increasingly marginal and was eventually captured by the Burgundians. Charles VI, isolated, insane, and sick, agreed at length to make Henry his heir, no doubt under significant pressure. At the traditional coronation city of Reims, he delivered a speech before the assembled nobles of France and England proclaiming Henry his heir and crowned him Dauphin of France. In 1417, he died, most likely of poison, and Henry was crowned King of France at Reims.