Despite its name, the Hundred Years’ War actually went on for over 100 years. It was fought from 1337 to 1453 between England, led by the House of Plantagenet, and France, led by the House of Valois. The fight was over who would rule France.
In 1328, Charles IV of France died without a male heir or brothers. Since law forbade women from inheriting the throne, Isabella of France, mother of Edward III of England, moved to have the throne passed to her son. However, Frenchmen crowned Philip, Count of Valois, as king instead.
The English didn’t pursue their claim at this point. However, Philip and Edward would later come into a dispute. Philip later confiscated Edward’s lands in France. Enraged, Edward decided to revive his claim to the French throne.
The war was not actually one long struggle, but three conflicts marked by periods of peace. These were the Edwardian War (1337–1360), the Caroline War (1369–1389), and the Lancastrian War (1415–1453).
The Edwardian War was fought between Edward III and Philip, the Caroline War between Edward of Woodstock (Edward III’s son) and Charles V (Philip’s grandson), while the Lancastrian War was fought between King Henry V (Edward III’s great-grandson) and Charles VI (Philip’s great-grandson).
The Edwardian war actually went well for Edward III who captured the French king and held him for ransom. The truce of Bordeaux signed in 1357 ended that war. In 1369 trouble flared up again after Edward of Woodstock ignored Charles V’s summons to Paris to answer why he raised taxes in Aquitaine. Charles V declared war and won back a lot of territory lost in the Edwardian War. It was his son, Charles VI who made peace with Richard II (son of Edward of Woodstock), ending the Caroline War.
The last phase of the war was decisive. War started again in 1415 when Henry V made his claim on the French throne. The war would go well for English until 1420, but from there France slowly gained ground and won. The final battle in the war was the Battle of Castillon in 1453, won by the French.
France was the biggest and most powerful kingdom in the Europe at the time.
Women were barred from inheriting the throne under the Salic Law, the ancient Frankish civil code law complied in 500 CE.
At the time the English crown included titles and lands in France, which made English rulers vassals of the French king.
The English would continue to make this claim up to 1801.
The Plantagenet line would end with the death of Richard III in 1485. While the direct Valois line ended in 1498 with Charles VIII. However, it would continue in the Valois-Angoulême line.