The Battle of Sluys was a sea battle that took place on 24 June 1340 during the reigns of Philip VI of France and Edward III of England, during the early part of the Hundred Years War.
Edward III was unwilling to be a vassal to France and believed himself to be the natural heir to the French throne. The French however did not desire an English King and chose Philip of Valois as their next king. The Hundred Years War became a fight for sovereignty of French lands.
At the beginning of the Hundred Years War the French held the advantage at sea and the English did not even have an established naval force. The French had vessels that were ideal for making swift passage across the Channel.
The English did have the ‘Cog’, a merchant vessel used by traders.
These were converted into warships and placed in the service of their country.
Edward set sail with his fleet on 22 June 1340 and was in sight of Sluys by the following day.
He anchored his fleet at Blankenberge in West Flanders, then sent Sir Reginald Cobham and others ashore to research and gain evidence of the French fleet.
They found the fleet anchored at the entrance of the Zwin channel on the Flemish coast. The ships were formed into 3 lines and linked together by bonding lines, awaiting battle.
Cobham reported that the French were positioned in a defensive manner and that they outnumbered the English, however the English fleet, were better positioned for battle.
The English attacked with ships full of archers, raining arrows down on the French vessels and then boarding them with men-at-arms.
The French began cutting the boarding lines, but it was too late, many ships were captured and others just fled.
By the end of the battle, the French fleet were destroyed and Edward had taken control of the Channel.