Second Hundred Years' War

Second Hundred Years' War
Battle of Waterloo 1815.PNG
The Battle of Waterloo, 1815 of the Napoleonic Wars, where the Duke of Wellington and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher defeated Napoleon. It is considered the last battle of the Second Hundred Years' War.
Date c. 1689 – c. 1815 (disputed)
Result British victory

Great Britain:


Commanders and leaders
House of Stuart
House of Hanover
House of Bourbon
House of Bonaparte

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
Ruler Reign
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
Ruler Reign
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.


  • Blanning, T. C. W. The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture: Old Regime Europe 1660–1789. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Buffinton, Arthur H. The Second Hundred Years' War, 1689–1815. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1929. 115pp
  • Claydon, Tony. William III. Edinburgh: Pearson Education Limited, 2002.
  • Crouzet, François. "The Second Hundred Years War: Some Reflections." French History 10 (1996), pp. 432–450.
  • Scott, H. M. Review: "The Second 'Hundred Years War' 1689–1815." The Historical Journal 35 (1992), pp. 443–469. (A collection of reviews of articles on the Anglo-French wars of the period, grouped under this heading)
  • Tombs, Robert and Isabelle. That Sweet Enemy: The French and the British from the Sun King to the Present. London: William Heinemann, 2006.