Second Hundred Years' War

Last updated

The Second Hundred Years' War (c. 1689 – c. 1815) is a periodization or historical era term used by some historians [1] [2] [3] to describe the series of military conflicts between Great Britain and France that occurred from about 1689 (or some say 1714) to 1815. For the context see International relations, 1648–1814.


The Second Hundred Years' War is named after the Hundred Years War, when the rivalry between England and France began in the 14th century. The term appears to have been coined by J. R. Seeley in his influential work The Expansion of England (1883). [4]


Like the Hundred Years' War, this term does not describe a single military event but a persistent general state of war between the two primary belligerents. The use of the phrase as an overarching category indicates the interrelation of all the wars as components of the rivalry between France and Britain for world power. It was a war between and over the future of each state's colonial empires.

The two countries remained continual antagonists even as their national identities underwent significant evolution. Great Britain was not a single state until 1707, prior to which it was the separate kingdoms of England and Scotland, albeit with a shared Crown and military establishment. In 1801, Britain was united with the Kingdom of Ireland to form the United Kingdom. The period also saw France under the Bourbon dynasty, the regimes of the French Revolution and the First Empire.

The various wars between the two states during the 18th century usually involved other European countries in large alliances; except for the War of the Quadruple Alliance when they were bound by the Anglo-French Alliance, France and Britain always opposed one another.[ citation needed ] Some of the wars, such as the Seven Years' War, have been considered world wars and included battles in the growing colonies in India, the Americas, and ocean shipping routes around the globe.


Beginning: 1688–1714

The series of wars began with the accession of the Dutch William III as King of England in the Revolution of 1688. His predecessors the Stuarts had sought friendly terms with Louis XIV: James I and Charles I, both Protestants, had avoided involvement as much as possible in the Thirty Years' War, while Charles II and the Catholic convert James II had even actively supported Louis XIV in his War against the Dutch Republic. William III, however, sought to oppose Louis XIV's Catholic regime and styled himself as a Protestant champion. Tensions continued in the following decades, during which France protected Jacobites who sought to overthrow the later Stuarts and, after 1715, the Hanoverians. [5]

Colonies: 1744–1783

After William III, the opposition of France and Britain shifted from religion to economy and trade: the two nations vied for colonial domination in the Americas and Asia. The Seven Years' War was one of the greatest and most decisive conflicts. France's alliance and backing of the colonists in the American Revolutionary War against Britain was successful in undermining British colonial hegemony in North America, but in turn debts from that conflict sowed the economic seeds of France's own revolution shortly thereafter.

Revolution and Empire: 1792–1815

The French military rivalry continued with British opposition of the French Revolution and the ensuing wars with first the new French Republic and then the Empire of Napoleon. His defeat in 1814 was followed by his abdication and exile, but he escaped the following year to begin the Hundred Days. These came to a close with his military disaster at the Battle of Waterloo, facing an Allied force commanded by the Duke of Wellington. The end of the Napoleonic Wars effectively ended the recurrent conflict between France and Britain. However, Britain and her allies' goal of restoring the French Bourbon monarchy in the Treaty of Paris and the subsequent Congress of Vienna, which sought to prevent further revolutions in Europe, [6] ultimately failed with the later Revolutions of 1848.


The recurrent rhetoric used in each country shifted from references to a "natural enemy" to an agreement to tolerate one another. Common interests led the two to cooperate in the Crimean War of the 1850s. A century after fighting one another (and with the mutual interest in checking the growing power of a united Germany, aside from Austria, with its Empire), the two were able to establish the Entente Cordiale by 1904, demonstrating that the "First" and "Second" Hundred Years' Wars were in the past; cultural differences continued, but violent conflict was over.

"Carthage" and "Rome"

Many in Europe referred to Great Britain as "Perfidious Albion", suggesting that it was a fundamentally untrustworthy nation. People compared Britain and France to ancient Carthage and Rome, respectively, with the former being cast as a greedy imperialist state that collapsed, while the latter was an intellectual and cultural capital that flourished:

The republicans knew as well as the Bourbons that British control of the oceans weighed in Continental power politics, and that France could not dominate Europe without destroying Britain. "Carthage"—vampire, tyrant of the seas, "perfidious" enemy and bearer of a corrupting commercial civilization—contrasted with "Rome", bearer of universal order, philosophy and selfless values. [7]

Wars included in the extended conflict

Important figures

England, Great Britain
Queen Mary II 1689–1694
King William III 1689–1702
Queen Anne 1702–1714
King George I 1714–1727
King George II 1727–1760
King George III 1760–1820
King Louis XIV 1643–1715
King Louis XV 1715–1774
King Louis XVI 1774–1792
National Convention 1792–1795
Directory 1795–1799
First Consul BonaparteEmperor Napoleon I 1799–1814; 1815
King Louis XVIII 1814–1815; 1815–1824

See also


  1. Buffinton, Arthur H. "The Second Hundred Years' War, 1689–1815". New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1929.
  2. Crouzet, François. "The Second Hundred Years War: Some Reflections", article in "French History", 10. (1996), pp. 432–450.
  3. Scott, H. M. Review: "The Second 'Hundred Years War" 1689–1815", article in "The Historical Journal", 35, (1992), pp. 443–469.
  4. Morieux, Renaud: "Diplomacy from Below and Belonging: Fishermen and Cross-Channel Relations in the Eighteenth Century" article in "Past & Present", 202, (2009), p. 83.
  5. Claydon, "William III"
  6. "British and Foreign State Papers", p.281
  7. Tombs, That Sweet Enemy, p. 208.

Related Research Articles

Glorious Revolution British revolution of 1688

The Glorious Revolution of November 1688, also known as the Glorieuze Overtocht or Glorious Crossing by the Dutch, was the deposition of James II and VII, king of England, Scotland and Ireland and replacement by his daughter Mary II and her husband, William III of Orange, stadtholder and de facto ruler of the Dutch Republic. A term first used by John Hampden in late 1689, historian Jeremy Black suggests it can be seen as both the last successful invasion of England and also an internal coup.

18th century Century

The 18th century lasted from January 1, 1701 (MDCCI) to December 31, 1800 (MDCCC). During the 18th century, elements of Enlightenment thinking culminated in the American, French, and Haitian revolutions. During the century, slave trading and human trafficking expanded on a global scale. Revolutions began to challenge the legitimacy of monarchical and aristocratic power structures, including the structures and beliefs that supported the slave trade. The British Industrial Revolution began, leading to radical changes in human society and the environment.

Congress of Vienna Early 19th century European peace conference

The Congress of Vienna of 1814–1815 was an international diplomatic conference to reconstitute the European political order after the downfall of the French Emperor Napoleon I. It was a meeting of ambassadors of European states chaired by Austrian statesman Klemens von Metternich, and held in Vienna from November 1814 to June 1815.

Napoleonic Wars Wars involving France, 1803-1815

The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions. It produced a brief period of French domination over most of continental Europe. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict. The wars are often categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition (1805), the Fourth (1806–07), the Fifth (1809), the Sixth (1813–14), and the Seventh (1815).

Nine Years War War (1688–97) between France and a European coalition

The Nine Years' War (1688–1697), often called the War of the Grand Alliance or the War of the League of Augsburg, was a conflict between France and a European coalition which mainly included the Holy Roman Empire, the Dutch Republic, England, Spain, Savoy and Portugal. It was fought in Europe and the surrounding seas, in North America, and in India. It is sometimes considered the first global war. The conflict encompassed the Williamite war in Ireland and Jacobite risings in Scotland, where William III and James II struggled for control of England and Ireland, and a campaign in colonial North America between French and English settlers and their respective Indigenous allies.

Napoleonic era European history in the 1800s

The Napoleonic era is a period in the history of France and Europe. It is generally classified as including the fourth and final stage of the French Revolution, the first being the National Assembly, the second being the Legislative Assembly, and the third being the Directory. The Napoleonic era begins roughly with Napoleon Bonaparte's coup d'état, overthrowing the Directory, establishing the French Consulate, and ends during the Hundred Days and his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. The Congress of Vienna soon set out to restore Europe to pre-French Revolution days. Napoleon brought political stability to a land torn by revolution and war. He made peace with the Roman Catholic Church and reversed the most radical religious policies of the Convention. In 1804 Napoleon promulgated the Civil Code, a revised body of civil law, which also helped stabilize French society. The Civil Code affirmed the political and legal equality of all adult men and established a merit-based society in which individuals advanced in education and employment because of talent rather than birth or social standing. The Civil Code confirmed many of the moderate revolutionary policies of the National Assembly but retracted measures passed by the more radical Convention. The code restored patriarchal authority in the family, for example, by making women and children subservient to male heads of households.

Grand Alliance (League of Augsburg) European coalition

The Grand Alliance is the anti-French coalition formed on 20 December 1689 between England, the Dutch Republic and the Holy Roman Empire. It was signed by the two leading opponents of France; William III, King of England and Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, and Emperor Leopold, on behalf of the Archduchy of Austria.

Concert of Europe European balance of power in the 19th century

The Concert of Europe refers to a general consensus among the Great Powers of 19th Century Europe to maintain the European balance of power and the integrity of territorial boundaries. Never a consensus, and subject to disputes and jockeying for position and influence, the Concert represents an extended period of relative peace and stability in Europe following the Wars of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars which had consumed the continent since the 1790s. It is typically divided into two phases with different dynamics, the first from 1815 to the early 1850s or 1860s, and the second from the early 1880s to 1914.

The Conservative Order was the period in political history of Europe after the defeat of Napoleon in 1815. From 1815 to 1830, a conscious program by conservative statesmen, including Metternich and Castlereagh, was put into place to contain revolution and revolutionary forces by restoring the old orders, particularly the previously-ruling aristocracies. On the other hand, in South America, in light of the Monroe Doctrine, the Spanish and the Portuguese colonies gained independence.

Kingdom of France Kingdom in western Europe from 843 to 1848

The Kingdom of France was a medieval and early modern monarchy in Western Europe. It was among the most powerful states in Europe and a great power from the High Middle Ages onward. It was also an early colonial power, with possessions around the world.

<i>Pacte de Famille</i> Series of 3 alliances (1773, 1743, 1761) between the Bourbon kings of France and Spain

The Pacte de Famille is one of three separate, but similar alliances between the Bourbon kings of France and Spain. As part of the settlement of the War of the Spanish Succession that brought the House of Bourbon of France to the throne of Spain, Spain and France made a series of agreements that did not unite the two thrones, but did lead to cooperation on a defined basis.

French–Habsburg rivalry Conflict between the house of Habsburg and France

The term France–Habsburg rivalry describes the rivalry between France and the House of Habsburg. The Habsburgs headed an expansive and evolving Empire that included, at various times, the Holy Roman Empire, the Spanish Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire from the Diet of Augsburg in the High Middle Ages until the dissolution of the monarchy following the World War I in the Late modern period.

The Anglo-French Wars were a series of conflicts between England and France, including:

The Treaty of Chaumont was a series of separately-signed but identically-worded agreements in 1814 between the Austrian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia, the Russian Empire and the United Kingdom. They formed the Holy Alliance. They were dated 1 March 1814, although the actual signings took place on 9 or 19 March. The treaty was intended to draw the powers of the Sixth Coalition into a closer alliance in the event that France rejected the peace terms they had recently offered. Each agreed to put 150,000 soldiers in the field against France and to guarantee the European peace against French aggression for twenty years.

Seven Years War Global conflict between 1756 and 1763

The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) was a global conflict, "a struggle for global primacy between Britain and France", which also had a major effect on the Spanish Empire. In Europe, the conflict arose from issues left unresolved by the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748), with Prussia seeking greater dominance. Long-standing colonial rivalries between Britain against France and Spain in North America and the Caribbean islands were fought on a grand scale with consequential results. In Europe, the war broke out over territorial disputes between Prussia and Austria, which wanted to regain Silesia after it was captured by Prussia in the previous war. Britain, France and Spain fought both in Europe and overseas with land-based armies and naval forces, while Prussia sought territorial expansion in Europe and consolidation of its power.

First French Empire Empire of Napoleon I of France between 1804–1815

The First French Empire, officially the French Republic then the French Empire, was the empire ruled by Napoleon Bonaparte, who established French hegemony over much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. It lasted from 18 May 1804 to 11 April 1814 and again briefly from 20 March 1815 to 7 July 1815.

French Royal Army Principal army of the Kingdom of France

The French Royal Army was the principal land force of the Kingdom of France. It served the Capetian Dynasty from the reign of King Louis XIV in the mid-17th century to that of King Charles X in the 19th, with an interlude from 1792 to 1814 and another during the Hundred Days in 1815. It was permanently dissolved following the July Revolution in 1830. The French Royal Army became a model for the new regimental system that was to be imitated throughout Europe from the mid-17th century onward. It was regarded as Europe's greatest military force and one of the most powerful armies in the world for much of its existence.

United Kingdom in the Napoleonic Wars

Between 1793 and 1815, Great Britain was the most constant of France's enemies. Through its command of the sea, financial subsidies to allies on the European mainland, and active military intervention in the Peninsular War, Britain played the central role in Napoleon's downfall even as all the other major powers switched back and forth.

The Seven Years' War, 1754–1763, spanned four continents, affecting Europe, the Americas, West Africa, and India and the Philippines, from Asia.

International relations, 1648–1814

International relations from 1648 to 1814 covers the major interactions of the nations of Europe, as well as the other continents, with emphasis on diplomacy, warfare, migration, and cultural interactions, from the Peace of Westphalia to the Congress of Vienna. It is followed by International relations of the Great Powers (1814–1919).