6

Legalistically speaking which side was right in the Hundred Years War. My view is that the Salic law combined with the principle that nobody can transmit a right greater than he himself can possess (nemo plus iuris transfere ad alium potest quam ipse habet) should settle the matter in favor of the French.

At the time both England and France recognized the authority of the Church. Were there any attempt at having the Pope invited to adjudicate the succession amiably?

  • 3
    Note that the war was sparked by the confiscation of Aquitaine: whether Edward's claim (which he dropped earlier) to the throne was genuine is a matter of debate. Also, the Latin you were looking for is nemo plus iuris transfere ad alium potest quam ipse habet. I hope you don't mind, but I edited "why" from the last sentence to make it less opinion-based. – Semaphore Oct 4 '14 at 18:09
  • 3
    I think its possible to ask who had a better claim to the throne, but the concept of "legality" just does not belong here. There were no courts to appeal to, and all these families ultimately acquired their thrones in the first place by winning them in armed conflict. – T.E.D. Oct 4 '14 at 18:58
  • @T.E.D. Why? A better claim to the throne does imply some sort of concept of legality. Whether that claim can be enforced by courts is not the most important factor. The problem is that even that question is not necessarily meaningful as there are competing notions of legality in play here. – Relaxed Oct 4 '14 at 21:14
  • I edited the title to raise the notion of "legality." Once that is defined, it is possible to go on to answer the question. – Tom Au Oct 4 '14 at 23:46
  • 2
    I think you are confusing the concepts of legitimacy and legality – T.E.D. Oct 8 '14 at 13:37
17

The legal situation was not as clear as the question assumes, because neither of the reasons cited were valid at the time. While people often apply Salic Law to the dispute in 1328, this is ahistorical - Salic Law had long been defunct by then. Royal succession was not fixed in legislation, but instead shaped by customs that had evolved over the centuries.

[The Lex Salica] was slowly forgotten until the middle of the fourteenth century, when it was rediscovered by Richard Lescot and the monks of Saint-Denis. The Salic Law enjoyed a second lease on life from the beginning of the fifteenth century, when it was officially adopted by the French Crown as the post-factum justification for the exclusion of women from the royal succession.

- Taylor, Craig. "The Salic Law, French Queenship and the Defence of Women in the Late Middle Ages." French Historical Studies 29.4 (2006): 543-564.


Though it was not called 'Salic law' at the time, François de Meyronnes had already written a treatise on the lex voconia, which excluded women from succession, enshrining the fundamental principles adopted later in the century to justify royal practice in France.

- Jones, Michael. "The Last Capetians and the Early Valois Kings, 1314-1364." The New Cambridge Medieval History. Vol. 6. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. 394.

France's succession disputes of 1316 and 1328 were essentially constitutional crises which had no precedents, since the Capetians had not ran out of dynasts before. The precedent of excluding women was first established when French magnates chose Philip the Tall over Joan II of Navarre in 1316, and extended when Philip the Fortunate was chosen over Edward II of England in 1328.

Both choices were motivated by compelling, political reasons. Joan was only four, and of questioned paternity; Edward was English, and the it was not altogether obvious which of the last Capetian princesses possessed (and imparted to their sons) a better claim, were female succession to be accepted. The succession was thus determined by the interests of politics, not legality.

The murky legal situation is why both female and male claimants (or their representatives) met at Saint-Germain-en Laye to settle the dispute with compromises and concessions

It is important to note that the so-called "Salic Law" was only cited much later; the first known reference to it in regard to the succession of females was made in 1358 ... Although later writers, such as François Hotman, claimed that the Salic Law had been invoked in the succession crisis of 1316-28, there is no evidence from the period to support this claim. As Éliane Viennot argued, "No law, principle or judicial theory was advanced. Only the rule of force and interests were brought into play."

- Woodacre, Elena. The Queens Regnant of Navarre: Succession, Politics, and Partnership, 1274-1512. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Matters came to a head when Edward III's fief of Aquitaine was confiscated. In the ensuing war, Edward advanced his claim on the French throne. Out of political considerations, it became expedient for the French bolster the legitimacy of the House of Valois over bypassed claimants from female lines. Salic Law, including the prohibition of transmission through the female line, was "rediscovered" to do just that.

[A]s Taylor notes, "the problems that French intellectuals faced as they tried to deal with the precedent set by the exclusion of women from the French royal succession." This precedent needed considerable justification, not necessarily in terms of a misogynistic need to argue for the inability of women to rule effectively but a very practical need to confirm the legitimacy of the Valois dynasty against the claims of Edward III of England and Juana's own son Carlos II of Navarre, who both had very strong rights to the French crown, through the female line.

- Woodacre, Elena. The Queens Regnant of Navarre: Succession, Politics, and Partnership, 1274-1512. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

7

At the time both England and France recognized the authority of the Church. Were there any attempt at having the Pope invited to adjudicate the succession amiably?

At first the pope tried to arbitrate the dispute, but it didn't go anywhere. A few years after the war began, the English King Edward III allied himself with Emperor Louis IV, who named Edward Vicar-General of the HRE. Since the pope was in a dispute with the empire and had excommunicated Louis a decade earlier, he abandoned arbitration and started supporting France. So there were attempts at arbitration by the pope but it was not successful.

"The fourteenth century, when cases of arbitration were so numerous, was also the period of the Hundred Years War between England and France, then resident at Avignon, sought to avert the conflict, but during its course injected a religious issue which precluded papal mediation. For example, the emperor Louis of Bavaria was under excommunication. When, then England made an alliance with Louis, the pope threw his support to France, and thus became a party to the quarrrel."

--Christian Attitudes toward War and Peace: A Historical Survey and Critical Re-evaluation
Roland H. Bainton

0

At the time both England and France recognized the authority of the Church. Were there any attempt at having the Pope invited to adjudicate the succession amiably?

At the time, England and France recognized the religious authority of the Church. At the time, the popes claimed to be the rightful secular rulers of all the world. But most medieval kings never recognized such claims to political authority, except when the pope happened to be on their side in a dispute.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.