Page:A book of the Pyrenees.djvu/33

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17
GASCONY

rivers. Add to all this the possession of the English kingdom. The long protracted and desolating wars that ensued on French soil was a struggle between the kings as to whether France should be annexed to England, or Aquitaine to France.

"By the peace between Henry III and Louis IX," says Mr. Freeman, "Aquitaine became a land held by the King of England as a vassal of the French crown. From that time it became one main object of the French kings to change this feudal superiority over this great duchy into an actual possession. The Hundred Years' War began through the attempt of Philip of Valois (1337) on the Aquitanian dominions of Edward III. Then the King of England found it politic to assume the title of King of France. But the real nature of the controversy was shown by the first great settlement. At the Peace of Bretigny (1360) Edward gave up all claim to the crown of France, in exchange for the independent sovereignty of his old fiefs and of some of his recent conquests. Aquitaine and Gascony, including Poitou . . . were made over to the King of England without the reservation of any homage or superiority of any kind. These lands became a territory as foreign to the French kingdom as the territory of her German and Spanish neighbours. But in a few years the treaty was broken on the French side, and the actual possessions of England beyond the sea were cut down to Calais and Guines, with some small part of Aquitaine adjoining the cities of Bordeaux and Bayonne. Then the tide turned at the invasion of Henry V. Aquitaine and Normandy were won back; Paris saw the crowning of an English king, and only the central part of the country obeyed the heir of the Parisian kingdom. But the final result of the war was the driving out of the English from all Aquitaine and France except the single district of Calais.

"The French conquest of Aquitaine (1451-3), the result of the Hundred Years' War, was in form the conquest of a land which had ceased to stand in any relation to the French crown."