Isle Of Wight Shipwrecks: The Hundred Years War

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The Hundred Years War 1337-1443

During the Hundred Years' War, Edward III confiscated all large ships to form his navy, and licensed pirates to attack all French shipping. The pirates, however, did not limit their attacks to just French vessels, and often attacked any foreign ship. A Spanish ship, the Saint Marie Rose, sailing from Spain to England with a cargo of wine and honey, was, when sheltering in the Solent from a storm, attacked and boarded by Pirates who were also the Crown's Stewards.

Invasion Threats

The Island used a complex network of 31 Invasion Beacons to warn of invasion, a threat which was real as Philip VI planned to capture the Isle of Wight and use it as a base from which to attack the mainland.

In 1336, the French Fleet was poised on the other side of the Channel, ready for a full-scale invasion. Although this did not happen, the French ships preyed on English vessels anchored off the Isle of Wight in the Solent, boarding many, scuttling some, and capturing the others.

In 1337 the French raided, and all but destroyed, Portsmouth, leaving only a church and the hospital standing. Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight were attacked in March 1338, and, in September, Guernsey was captured. In October 1338, they attacked Southampton, causing Edward III to order the building of its town walls.

The Island Invaded

In 1330, the French invaded Yarmouth and St. Helens on the Island, but were defeated by Sir Theobald Russell, the King's Warden of the Island, who was mortally wounded in the battle.

In 1340, Edward III won a spectacular victory against a far larger and superior French fleet at the Battle of Sluys, in which over 20,000 Frenchmen died.

This gave England control over the Channel, yet not total, as Portsmouth was again raided in 1342, and later in 1370 and 1377.
There was very little trade during the Hundred Years War. This caused, by the 1370s, a large shortage of grain. In 1375 the Maudelyn, a ship sailing from Flanders to Valencia, was stranded on the Island. The cargo was gain, which was requisitioned by King Edward III and sold to Southampton.

In 1377, the Island suffered its most devastating raid, with Yarmouth, Francheville and Freshwater destroyed, Newport burnt and Carisbrooke Castle besieged. The Castle's constable, Sir Hugh Tyrell, gallantly defended until a force under Sir John Arundel arrived from the mainland. The Island was again attacked in 1381, when Newport was again burnt by the French, and in 1402 a French army of 1,700 men landed and raided several Island villages. The French, under the Compte de St Pol, attacked again in 1403, capturing much of the
Island before being counter-attacked by forces from Portsmouth and Southampton.

Ships Wrecked And Destroyed

Trading ships continued to be lost at sea. In October 1399, a Breton ship loaded with claret was lost, and in 1409 an Italian carrack carrying wine and oil was wrecked by the Needles.

In 1411, records state that the ship "Passenger", owned by the burgesses of the Isle of Wight, when it "went from the Island freighted with goods to the value of £2,000 to take to the fair at Lymington, John Boucher of Harfleur in Normandy .. captured the ship and their goods."

In 1447, another carrack sank off the Island's coast. In 1449, English Privateers captured the Bay Fleet, a fleet of 60 Hanseatic ships and 50 ships from the Low Countries, and took them to the Island. There, after diplomatic pressure, they were eventually released.

After The Hundred Years' War

After the Hundred Years War, trade was resumed, increasing the number of vessels in the Island's waters. In 1463, Le Maudeleyn came to the Island loaded with wine. The ship's master had letters of safe conduct from Edward IV, yet the letters, along with the cargo, were stolen by pirates.

Shipwrecks Of The Isle Of Wight

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