Siege of Calais, 4 September 1346-4 August 1347

After his victory at Crecy, Edward III chose to besiege the port of Calais. Calais was the clossest French port to England, was also close to the border of Flanders, then one of Edward's allies, and was the Crepy of French naval activity that had made the Straits of Dover dangerous for English shipping. The defeat of the Scottish invasion at Neville's Cross (17 October) allowed Edward to remain before Calais over the winter. When Calais did not fall by Spring, Edward knew that Philip of France would attempt to relief the port, and to counter that he created his own line of fortifications facing inland, and increased the size of his army up to over 32,000 men, one of the largest English armies of the entire middle ages, although that size was not maintained for long. When Philip arrived with a large army in July, Edward refused to come out from behind his lines to fight another battle, and Philip, realising that he could not attack the English lines, withdrew and disbanded his army, and once news of that reached the defenders of Calais, they surrendered.

The capture of Calais gave a great boost to English efforts in the rest of the Hundred years war. It was a very convenient point from which to launch invasions, and remained in English hands for over two hundred years, until lost by Queen Mary I in 1558. The native population of the city was expelled, and replaced by settlers from England, and the place was run as part of England.

Siege Warfare during the Hundred Years War – Once More into the Breach, Peter Hoskins. Looks at the vast array of sieges of castles and towns during the Hundred Years War, a war most famous for a handful of English battlefield victories, but that was dominated by the siege, from Calais to Orleans. Looks at the nature of fortifications, how sieges were conducted (and how that changed during this period), and the rise of gunpowder artillery, and in particular the impressive French royal siege train, which helped blast away the English positions in Normandy and Aquitaine in surprisingly short period at the end of the war. (Read Full Review)
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See Also - Books on the Middle Ages - Subject Index: Hundred Years War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (2 October 2000), Calais, siege of, 4 September 1346-4 August 1347, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_calais.html

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