"Calais was more than a place; it was a symbol."
Historical map showing the Pale of Calais. 1477
Public DomainHistorical map showing the Pale of Calais. 1477 - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Edward III of England renounced his previously-held French throne after the Battle of Crecy in 1346.  He retained some territories in France, namely Aquitaine and Calais and its surrounding area, known as the Pale of Calais.  Calais, by 1453 and the end of the Hundred Years War, was the only area in France to be still held by England.  It was finally lost to the French in 1558 during the reign of Mary I when Francis, the Duke of Guise took the city with French troops. 


By 1558, Calais was the only reminder of the old Anglo-French empire that had existed from the Norman Conquest in 1066.  According to David Starkey, it was a humiliating loss and important symbolically in the same way as the loss of Saratoga, which led to the loss of the American colonies, or Suez, which effectively 'heralded' the end of the British Empire.