Anglo-French War (1242–1243)
PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: England vs. France
PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Northwestern France
MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: England attempted to
regain lands King John I lost to France.
OUTCOME: English defeat; a truce was negotiated.
APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS: At
the battle of Saintes, July 21, 1242, England, 700
crossbowmen; France, unknown
TREATIES: Truce concluded at Bordeaux, 1243
A renewal of Anglo-French conflict began in 1242 when
Henry III (1207–72) of England invaded France at Saintonge,
on the Bay of Biscay, in an attempt to regain the
Angevin lands lost by his father, King John I (“Lackland”)
(1167–1216). Henry’s invasion was quickly repelled by
French forces under King Louis IX (1214–70).
The major event of the war was the Battle of Saintes,
fought on July 21, 1242. Having already been defeated at
Taillebourg the previous day, Henry’s regiment of 700
crossbowmen was left in a precarious position on the
banks of the Charente River when Louis’s cavalrymen
crushed them at Saintes. Tactically, it was a minor battle,
but the defeat forced Henry to realize the futility of further
action, and he retreated into Gascony. The brief war concluded
with a truce at Bordeaux and paved the way for the
1259 Treaty of Paris, by which Henry renounced English
claims to northwestern France. Louis IX, who was in the
process of organizing the Seventh CRUSADE, paid little
attention to enforcing the truce, which was negotiated
after Henry’s retreat. This diplomatic failure ensured that
Anglo-French tensions would remain high.
See also ANGLO-FRENCH WAR (1202–1204); ANGLO FRENCH
Further reading: David A. Carpenter, Reign of Henry
III (London and Rio Grande, Ohio: Hambledon Press,
1996); John Le Patourel, The Norman Empire (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1976); Jean Richard, Saint Louis: Crusader
King of France (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge
University Press, 1992).