Philip IV of France

Dimitris Stamatios | April 5, 2023


Philip IV, called the Fair, († November 29, 1314 ibid) of the Capetian dynasty was King of France from 1285 to 1314 and, as Philip I, King of Navarre.

He established France as a major power in Europe and, with uncompromising authority, established a modern early absolutist state, which allowed the medieval French monarchy to develop power as never before. His reign has special significance because of the transfer of the papacy to Avignon and the crushing of the Knights Templar. His epithet is contemporary and refers to his appearance, which is said to have corresponded to the chivalric ideal of his time.

Origin and youth

Philip was the second son of King Philip III the Bold and his first wife Isabella of Aragon, who died in 1271. His older brother was Prince Louis, born in 1264, who was thus also the designated successor to his father. In 1274, the father married a second time to Mary of Brabant, bringing unrest into the royal household, as Mary of Brabant attempted to assert her influence on daily political events against the party of the queen mother Margaret of Provence and the chamberlain Pierre de la Brosse. She was supported in this by the king”s uncle, Charles of Anjou, who wanted to consolidate his own influence on French politics through Mary.

Charles of Anjou tried to instrumentalize the French kingship for his own interests, as a means of pressure against King Peter III of Aragon, who was a serious opponent for him for the supremacy in the western Mediterranean. The object of these interests was also Philip, who in May 1275 was betrothed to Joan I, heiress of the kingdom of Navarre and the county of Champagne. Navarre was thus to be drawn into a common front against Aragon. When the crown prince died the following year, Pierre de La Brosse fell into disgrace over it, accused of poisoning and subsequently executed. Although the chamberlain had accused Mary of Brabant of the crime, the latter, and with her Charles of Anjou, ousted the queen mother from court. Philip himself thus rose to the first place in the succession.

After Charles of Anjou lost the island of Sicily to Aragon in the Sicilian Vespers of 1282, he won over the Pope, who called for a crusade against Aragon. King Philip III, at the insistence of his wife, decided to carry out this enterprise. He ignored the opposition of Prince Philip. The campaign turned out to be a disaster. The king died of dysentery in Perpignan in October 1285. Philip immediately called off the campaign and established diplomatic contacts with Aragon.


On January 6, 1286, Philip was crowned king and anointed in the cathedral of Reims. His first act of government was to eliminate the trench warfare at court, ousting Mary of Brabant from it and persuading the grandmother Margaret of Provence to retire to a convent.

Philip intended to exercise his rule through a royal council, which was not unusual for a king of his time, but that he relied on qualified individuals such as legal experts and financial specialists to fill this council, regardless of their class origins. The best known of these were Pierre Flote, Guillaume de Nogaret and Enguerrand de Marigny. Also, Philip increasingly had one of his representatives publicly announce and justify decisions made by this council, which gave the impression in his environment that the king was dependent on and dominated by his advisors – a question that still preoccupies historians today. The Bishop of Pamiers, Bernard Saisset, after an audience with the king, judged that “the king was not man, nor beast, but a mere statue”.

An important innovation during Philip”s reign was the establishment of an institutionalized judiciary and the associated emergence of jurisprudence. Philip resorted to the provincial parliaments, which had originally served the king as advisory bodies, which he transformed into royal courts that henceforth represented and enforced the law. Since the judges of all the parliaments were appointed by the crown, royal law became state law and thus an instrument of royal power. This justice was particularly based on Roman law, which was mainly transmitted by the legists from the law universities of Languedoc and made the king consider that he was emperor in his realm. To this end, the universities of Montpellier (1289) and Orléans (1312) were founded, increasingly displacing the courts of the nobility or the clergy. In his power-political disputes, Philip primarily invoked his royal right, which he used against all his opponents, whether insubordinate subjects or the pope, and did not shy away from enforcing it even by force of arms. In doing so, he took no account of traditional legal opinions or traditions of common law, which gave his rule the appearance of tyranny among his contemporaries.

Another milestone under Philip”s reign was the breakthrough of the third estate, the burghers, as a political force in France. Like no other king before him, Philip based his power on this economically strong class as an ally against the nobility, which insisted on privileges, or against the clergy, which was far too independent. In 1302, in his conflict with the pope, Philip allowed the third estate to take seats in the royal parliament for the first time, which is why he is thus considered the founder of the Estates General. The purpose of this measure was to demonstrate a united popular will against the Pope”s claim to power. In addition, Philip gave the body a regulated form for the first time on this occasion and arrested it in Paris.

Philip”s entire reign – due to his high level of foreign policy involvement – was fraught with financial burdens that constantly forced him to find new sources of revenue. In addition to tax increases and the taxation of the nobility and the clergy, he resorted in particular to reductions in the precious metal content of newly minted coins and to repeated devaluations of older coins. By police-state means, he forced his subjects to use his bad coins, which earned him the reputation of a “counterfeit king.” In turn, this policy led to a decline in the importance of the coins of the nobility and the bishops, who had once derived their right to mint from the granting of royal privileges by Philip”s predecessors, thus establishing their economic strength. In the last year of his reign, the nobility in those provinces that were prepared to defend themselves against the Crown”s interference in the coinage and the ever-increasing taxation, even by force of arms, formed themselves. In connection with the acquisition of new financial resources, there is also, in addition to the suppression of the Order of the Temple in 1307, the expulsion of more than 100,000 Jews from France in 1306 and the accompanying expropriation of their property. Only Philip”s son granted them their return. He repeated the same with the “Lombards”, that is, the Italian merchants and bankers, between 1309 and 1311. In the end, all these measures were unsuccessful, and Philip left his successor an empty treasury.

Philip”s death on November 29, 1314, after a hunting accident, was seen by his subjects as a liberation from tyranny. Many of his closest advisors were banished or even executed by his sons. His harshest police and fiscal coercive measures were rolled back, and yet his administrative and political innovations were preserved and continued. In the end, he left behind a kingship consolidated in its foundations, which since him defined itself as a state and gave it the strength to weather even the most perilous storms, such as the Hundred Years” War. He was buried in the Abbey of Saint-Denis, whose sepulchres of his predecessors he had redesigned. During the plundering of the royal tombs of Saint-Denis during the French Revolution, his tomb was opened and looted on October 19, 1793, and his remains were buried in a mass grave outside the church.

Philip inherited a fundamental conflict from his predecessors regarding the relationship of the French crown to the English king. It had its starting point after the destruction of the so-called Angevin Empire of the Plantagenet dynasty by Philip”s great-great-grandfather Philip II. August in 1204, which led to a loss of almost all continental territories for the Plantagenets. King Henry III of England failed in his attempt to regain these territories and, in the Treaty of Paris (1259), recognized his diminished holdings in France, centered around Gascony and the west of ancient Aquitaine (together also called Guyenne). Moreover, he committed himself and his descendants to recognize the French king as feudal lord for these territories and to pay homage to him accordingly, thus including the English kings among the Pairs of France.

The termination of this feudal relationship was the goal of King Edward I of England and he tried to achieve the detachment of Guyenne from French suzerainty, which could only have been accomplished at their expense. Philip rejected these efforts and successfully obtained the required homage from Edward after his accession to power in 1286. Nevertheless, there was continued tension between the two rulers, especially over the legal relationship between the English king and the French king. This dispute degenerated into war in 1293 after English sailors attacked French sailors in the port of Boulogne, resulting in several deaths. Philip summoned Edward to Paris to appear before the court of the Pairs for this incident, which at that time was of no consequence. However, Edward was busy at that time with a rampant uprising of the Scots against the English rule and was therefore indispensable on the island.

Edward offered a compromise instead. Philip was to occupy his castles in Guyenne as a punishment for his failure to appear before the court. After he had ended the revolt in Scotland, Edward would come to France to answer. This was to involve a renewed homage, after which Philip would again enfeoff him with the Guyenne. In this way, both monarchs would save face and Philip could also prove to be a benevolent lord towards his vassals. In fact, Philip occupied some of Edward”s castles in 1294, but he again asked him to appear before the court immediately, threatening to declare him deprived of his fiefs and to annex them to the crown domain. This effectively meant the beginning of a war between the two kings.

Subjugation of Flanders

Edward I of England found an ally in Count Guido I of Flanders, whose interests were of a similar nature. The Count of Flanders was once able to assert himself against his half-brothers in the War of the Flemish Succession only with the help of the French Crown, at the cost of losing power over his countial dignity. King Philip the Fair based his influence in Flanders primarily on the patricians in the cities. Although these based their economic and political strength on their cloth trade with England, they were eager to maintain good relations with the king, who accepted their trading privileges with England and protected them from the grasp of a strong count. Count Guido strove to restore his count”s dignity to its old almost sovereign position and to free himself from royal influence, thus becoming an opponent of King Philip.

In 1294 Count Guido established close diplomatic relations with the King of England and betrothed one of his daughters to the Prince of Wales. Philip refused his consent necessary for this and the count had to swear lasting loyalty. Nevertheless, the count continued his policy and at Grammont (December 1296) won over the German king Adolf of Nassau, who wanted to prevent France from gaining strength in the Lorraine-Dutch region, and other imperial princes to his cause. After Philip had asked the count to explain these actions, the latter resigned his vassalage to France on January 20, 1297. The king then convened a Pairs court, which convicted the count of high treason and felony and deprived him of his fief. Furthermore, Philip obtained from the Pope the imposition of excommunication on Count Guido and the interdict over Flanders.

Philip took a determined approach to the military fight against the anti-French alliance. He sent his brother Charles of Valois to Guyenne, where he encountered little English resistance and, after successfully subduing that province in 1295, led his army to Flanders. There, in the meantime, Count Robert II of Artois had led an army, where he was able to take one city after another, such as Kortrijk, Dunkirk, Bergen and Bruges. These rapid successes were favored by the patricians, who were favorable to France, and by the support of the German king, who, by means of a payment of French gold and after papal pressure, renounced war despite his alliance with Flanders and England. After the royal troops took Lille on August 26, 1297, Count Guido, who could only hold on to Ghent, was ready to enter into a truce under papal mediation at Vyve-Saint-Bavon on October 9. This was extended for two years in Tournai in 1298.


After the truce expired in 1300, Count Guido gave up the fight. Already a year before, his only real ally, Count Henry III of Bar, was captured and Edward I reconciled with France after Philip had lifted the occupation of Guyenne and promised his sister to him, as well as his daughter to the Prince of Wales as a wife. Continuation of the struggle was hopeless for the count under these circumstances. Despite Charles of Valois” word of honor for a free escort, Guido and his eldest son Robert of Béthune were taken into knightly custody by the king when they met, Guido in Compiegne, Robert in Bourges. Flanders was entrusted to the administration of royal governors. Philip personally appeared in Flanders in 1301, where he dissolved the naval blockade of Ghent by Edward I of England and established new fortresses. In a treaty signed in Bruges in 1301, the new ruling relations were determined.

Flemish revolt

Despite this success, the crown quickly lost prestige and support among the Flemish population. The decisive factor here was Philip”s rigid financial policy, which, despite the end of the war, did not want to abolish the war tax that had been levied. This caused an uproar among the artisans, who had been socially disadvantaged for some time, and who attacked some of the houses of the wealthy patricians and cloth merchants. As a result, the governor Jacques de Châtillon had the cities of Bruges and Ghent garrisoned. However, on the morning bell of May 18, 1302, the citizens of Bruges invaded the quarters of the royal soldiers and probably killed several hundred of them (Bruges Early Prayer).

The revolt seized all Flemish cities, which rallied behind Count John I of Namur, a younger son of Count Guido. Philip responded by sending an army under Robert of Artois. Against all odds, the French knights were crushed by the Flemish citizen army at the Battle of the Golden Spurs near Kortrijk (Coutrai) on July 11, 1302. More than seven hundred knights lost their lives, including the entire military leadership of France.

Under the impact of this blow, Philip and Edward I of England agreed in the Peace of Paris in 1303 to return their relations to the status before the beginning of their war. The fundamental problems between the monarchs were not resolved, and the conflict was carried on among their descendants and only ended with the end of the Hundred Years” War. Philip, however, gained a free hand and even the support of Edward against Flanders, as the English king expelled the Flemish merchants from England and thus increased the economic pressure on the rebels. Philip assembled a new army at Arras on July 22, 1304, and entered Tournai on August 9. A few days later, his fleet under Raniero Grimaldi destroyed the superior Flemish fleet at Zierikzee, and on August 17, 1304, the French army, led by the king, was finally victorious in the battle of Mons-en-Pévèle.

The fragile peace in Flanders

Notwithstanding these successes, Philip was never to fully pacify Flanders during his lifetime. On June 24, 1305, the new Count of Flanders, Robert III, signed the Peace of Athis-sur-Orge, returning to the suzerainty of France. The bailiwicks of Lille, Douai and Béthune had to be handed over to the Crown, furthermore crushing compensation payments and the demolition of their city fortifications were imposed on the Flemish citizens. However, the citizens, who had gained political self-confidence in the previous years, rejected this treaty, which is why the Crown achieved de facto no control over the cities of Flanders. The royal grand chamberlain Enguerrand de Marigny negotiated the “Flanders cessions” in Pontoise in July 1312, according to which the crown remained in possession of the three bailiwicks and at the same time waived financial compensation.

But even this could not force the peace. After Philip”s death, the Flemings, under the leadership of Count Robert III, were to revolt against the crown once again and would not be ready for a final peace based on the Treaty of Pontoise until 1320, under the reign of Philip V the Tall. The outcome of this conflict was contrary to the motivations of King Philip IV at the beginning of it in 1297. Although he had forced the Flemish dynasty of counts back under France”s command, in return the Flemish burghers emancipated themselves in their cities from the royal sovereignty, which they only formally recognized. This established the de facto sovereignty of Flanders north of the Lys, but this rich land was not to be entirely lost to the French kingdom until the treaties of Arras in 1482, Senlis in 1493, and Cambrai in 1529.

King Philip IV maintained a relaxed relationship with the papacy at the beginning of his reign. In this way, he continued the traditionally friendly relations of the French crown with the head of the Roman Church that had existed throughout the High Middle Ages, in contrast to the Roman-German kings and emperors, who repeatedly found themselves in power-political conflicts with the pontificate. Philip himself depended on the pope as a mediator in his efforts to normalize relations with Aragon after his father”s Aragonese crusade. And with success, a formal peace between the two kingdoms was achieved at Anagni in 1295 under the auspices of Pope Boniface VIII. The Pope proved to be an important ally for the king when he threatened the German king with excommunication if he engaged militarily in favor of Flanders.

First upsets 1296 and relaxation 1297

However, Philip”s war against England and Flanders also led to a first confrontation of the royal authority with the universal self-determination of the pope and his clergy. Again, financial reasons of Philip were the decisive point, who urgently needed money for his wars and therefore also taxed the clergy and at the same time made a claim to the tithes. For Pope Boniface VIII this was untenable: he reacted to this with the bull Clericis laicos, which forbade the bishops in France to pay taxes to laymen. This was accompanied by the threat of ecclesiastical excommunication against both the giver and the receiver of the taxes. This threat failed to achieve its goal and Philip responded by banning the export of precious metals, coins, gems, weapons and horses to Italy, which caused considerable economic damage there. Furthermore, Philip declared the clergy of France to be members of the state who, as landowners in France, could not escape the general burdens.

In view of the negative economic consequences for Italy and thus for the Pope, he was forced to give in. Still in 1296 he published the bull Ineffabilis and finally in the spring of 1297 the bull Etsi de statu, in which he revised the provisions of the Clericis laicos. Relations were further improved after Boniface VIII canonized Philip”s grandfather, King Louis IX. Philip even allowed the pope, ignoring his personal position, to intervene as a private citizen in the war against England and Flanders. But when he decided against Philip”s position, the king refused any further efforts by the pope, saying that it was not his place to judge secular matters.


Thus Philip made a new break with the pope, which this time could not be repaired. In the following years, the pope openly took a position in favor of Count Guido of Flanders and demanded his release. Furthermore, he demonstrated to the king his room for maneuver in France by establishing a new bishopric in Pamiers without discussing it with the king. The new bishopric was filled by Bernard Saisset, the abbot of Saint-Antonin in Pamiers. He had been an intimate enemy of the king for a long time, since he had acted in favor of the abbot in disputes with Count Roger Bernard III of Foix.

In 1301, the tense situation escalated when Saisset publicly supported the Pope”s demand to release the Count of Flanders. Philip used this episode, which in itself was meaningless, as a pretext for a confrontation with the Holy See. He convened a commission of inquiry to investigate the bishop”s suspicions of high treason. Incriminating testimonies, including those of the Counts of Foix and Comminges, played into the hands of the king, who had the bishop of Pamiers arrested in October 1301 and put him on trial in Senlis. The pope saw here the independence of the ecclesiastical justice and his supremacy over it threatened and sent in December 1301 the bull Ausculta fili to the court of Paris, in which he invited the bishops of France as well as the king to come to Rome to clarify the relations between secular and ecclesiastical powers. Philip prevented the publication of the bull by burning it and had a forgery of it made, suggesting a much harsher tone on the part of the Holy See against the Crown; furthermore, he convened his Council, devoted to him, which took the decision to mobilize a “public opinion” against the Pope in France. On this occasion, on April 10, 1302, a meeting of the Pairs, prelates and, for the first time, civic representatives of the cities was convened in Notre-Dame, where the royal councilor Pierre Flote delivered a lamentation against the encroachments of the Curia and understood the convening of a French national synod by the Pope in Rome as an attack on the rights and liberties of the King (Decretale Per Venerabilem).

The nobility and the burghers then drew up a declaration for the Roman College of Cardinals, which was entirely in Philip”s favor. The clergy, still hesitant, was also forced by royal pressure to send a corresponding rejection to the pope. The pope rejected this declaration and admonished the king to free himself from the diabolical whispers of his councilors. Those bishops who would not appear at the ordered synod he threatened with deposition. During this period, both sides mobilized their theologians to fight a battle of publicistic arguments that included the question of the papal fullness of powers. On the papal side, these were especially Aegidius Romanus and James of Viterbo, and on the French side John of Paris (Jean Quidort). In the autumn of 1302, despite the royal sanction, forty French bishops appeared at the synod in Rome, in which the pope in the bull Unam Sanctam undisguisedly formulated the papal claim to world supremacy and declared it binding on all secular princes.

The assassination of Anagni

The pope hoped to assert his position after his worst opponent Pierre Flote fell at Coutrai, but his position as first royal councilor was taken by the no less determined Guillaume de Nogaret. In the spring of 1303, Philip convened another meeting of the Pairs and Prelates at the Louvre, where he had Nogaret act as prosecutor, accusing the pope of various offences, first and foremost that of heresy, which was the only offense that permitted a trial of the head of the church. Under Nogaret”s leadership, the assembly came to the conclusion that Boniface VIII could no longer be recognized as the legitimate head of the church and authorized the king to convene a church assembly to have a new pope elected. Although contemporary witnesses were already aware that it was not nearly within the competence of a royal assembly to decide on the head of Christendom, Philip accepted this decision. He thus countered the Pope”s claim to world supremacy with his political and legal sovereignty, which recognized no further authority above the king.

The accusations against the pope were to be decided by a general council, whose convening was entrusted to Nogaret, who went to Italy to find allies among the not insignificant opponents of the pope, especially from the house of Colonna. Boniface, for his part, tried in vain to win over Albrecht I, the Roman king, by showing him favor. In the summer of 1303, Boniface withdrew again to his summer residence at Anagni, where he planned to excommunicate Philip on September 8 of that year. Nogaret, who in the meantime had set the General Council in motion, felt compelled to act. Supported by troops of the Colonnas, he entered the Pope”s palace in Anagni during the night of September 6-7 and arrested him, who refused to flee for reasons of age. On September 9, the population of the city managed to storm the palace, which allowed the Pope to escape to Rome.

The “Assassination of Anagni” had failed. And yet Philip, now excommunicated, was to emerge victorious from this conflict after the pope died, feverish, on October 11, 1303, in a fit of rage triggered by his treatment by the soldateska. With him died his formulated claim to world domination and the prestige of the Holy See, which was reflected in violent uprisings of the urban population of Rome.

The Babylonian Exile

Boniface”s successor in office, Benedict XI, freed himself from Rome with the help of the Orsinis and took up residence in Perugia. There he pronounced the ban against Nogaret and the Colonnas, but he retracted every measure of his predecessor directed against Philip in six bulls. In 1304 he died, according to rumors by poison, which Philip ordered him.

Thereupon, at the fifteen-month conclave in Perugia, which was entirely dominated by French cardinals, the Archbishop of Bordeaux was elected as Clement V, the new pope. The latter had previously won Philip”s favor when he not only promised to lift sanctions against France, but also willingly ceded tithes to the crown for five years and also gave Philip a say in the appointment of cardinals. Because of the unrest that had broken out in Italy, Clement refrained from traveling there and took up residence in Lyons, where he was crowned in the presence of Philip. Lyon was still formally part of the Holy Roman Empire at the time. However, after this status changed in favor of France, he moved to Avignon in 1309. But in the end, the papacy became a puppet of French royalty there as well, because Avignon was located in Provence, which still belonged to the Roman German Empire but was ruled by the French-born royal family of Naples, which maintained the closest political relations with its cousins in France.

The Babylonian exile of the church in Avignon meant an epochal break in the history of the papacy. Where Emperor Henry IV had failed over two hundred years earlier, Philip IV had triumphed. In Avignon, the papacy sank from its claim to be the universal master of the Christian West, to which it verbally clung for a long time, to a French provincial principality. Even after the end of the exile seventy years later, the pope was never again to assume the position of power once established by Gregory VII against the emperor and led to its summit by Innocent III.

Philip used the pope as a new instrument to enforce his interests immediately after he had decided to break up the Order of the Knights Templar. The reason for this decision was once again the king”s strained budgetary situation, but also the military and especially financial strength of this organization, which was denied his access and whose independent status contradicted Philip”s conception of royal-state authority. The Order controlled virtually all of the crown”s banking operations and was accountable only to the pope. The Order had demonstrated its independence from the king on several occasions by openly supporting Pope Boniface VIII and several revolts by the people of Paris against the king”s ongoing debasements of coinage. In response, Philip had already had the state treasure transferred from the tower of the Temple to the Louvre in 1295.

In his plan, Philip took advantage of the already widespread criticism of the Order, which seemed unwilling to seek a new field of activity in the fight against the pagans after the fall of Acre and the final loss of Outremer to the Muslims in 1291, unlike the Teutonic Knights or the Knights of St. John, who shifted the fight to the Baltic and the Mediterranean. Furthermore, the highly secretive and perceived as arrogant Knights Templar aroused suspicion among the common population. In 1306, after a citizen of Béziers failed to get a hearing from the King of Aragon for his accusations against the Order, Philip gratefully accepted them, but waited until the Grand Master Jacques de Molay came to France in response to an invitation from Pope Clement V. The Pope then gave the Order a pardon. The pope then gave his consent to the king for a trial of the Templars in Poitiers in August 1307. On a Friday, October 13, in an action strictly coordinated by Nogaret, most of the members of the Order were arrested. They were charged with heresy, idolatry, sodomistic practices, and other misconduct. The subsequent interrogations were carried out by the royal confessor Imbert. After the unexpected applause of the clergy for the Order at the Council of Vienne in 1311, which was particularly inflamed by the confessions of the knights, including the Grand Master, forced by torture, Philip appealed to the Pope. The Pope dissolved the Order on March 22, 1312, out of “apostolic authority”.

The financial success was limited for Philip, since the pope handed over most of the order”s assets to the Knights of St. John. Only for the legal costs was the crown paid out, which are said to have been correspondingly high. An autodafé was carried out on a large number of knights of the Order, since they had retracted their confessions after the Council of Vienne and were therefore treated as recidivist heretics by the Inquisition courts. On March 18, 1314, the Grand Master and the Master of the Order of Normandy were the last to be burned in Paris.

Since the beginning of the 13th century, a fundamental change had taken place in France”s relationship with the Holy Roman Empire, characterized by the rise of French royal power and the simultaneous decline of central imperial power in the empire, especially with the end of the Hohenstaufen dynasty in 1250 and the onset of the interregnum. Increasingly, the French kings acted as an offensive and arbitrating power in the empire as well, where they used the different interests of the imperial princes for their own purposes. Significantly, King Philip III was the first French king to apply for the Roman kingship in 1273, but he was defeated by Rudolf of Habsburg.

Philip”s persistent involvement in the Flemish-Lorraine region inevitably led to conflicts of interest with princes and kings of the Holy Roman Empire. The alliance of Count Guido I of Flanders with Edward I of England, concluded in 1294, also involved imperial princes such as Count Henry III of Bar or Duke John II of Brabant, who were based in the border region with France and saw their position threatened by the latter”s power. The Roman King Adolf of Nassau also joined this alliance, but he was neutralized during the Flanders War by French gold, papal pressure and by an alliance of some imperial princes against him. Relations with King Albrecht I were more relaxed. Although as Duke of Austria he was still one of France”s enemies, as king he was interested in a friendly understanding with Philip. At a personal meeting of both rulers in December 1299 at Vaucouleurs, for the first time even territorial cessions of the empire to France were agreed upon, which were also sealed in the Treaty of Bruges in 1301. The border was moved to the Meuse, whereby the Count of Bar in particular became a vassal of France. This was also associated with France”s assumption of sovereignty over the episcopal cities of Toul and Verdun. Philip also made further gains in the old Burgundian regnum, where the Roman-German rulers had hardly shown any presence and had left the land to the territorial nobility; King Albrecht I willingly recognized the cession of Franche-Comté. Philip annexed the metropolitan see of Lyon in 1307 after a quick military operation. His grandfather had already been given jurisdiction of the city by the archbishop in order to gain him as an ally against the counts of Forez. Philip used the ongoing feud between the archbishop and the count as a pretext to occupy the city and declare its affiliation to France.

After the assassination of Albrecht in 1308, Philip made another attempt to bind the German kingship to France by proposing as candidate his brother Charles of Valois. The already existing dependence of some imperial princes and not least that of the pope seemed to give him favorable chances for this project. In doing so, he underestimated the negative attitude of most imperial princes against a strong French king in the empire and the still existing influence of the pope on the German clergy. Together with the Archbishop of Cologne, Pope Clement V successfully forced the election of the Count of Luxembourg as the new king. Since the latter was also in a relationship of dependence with France, Philip was content with the election. Relations with King Henry VII deteriorated when the latter broke off his contacts with France after the annexation of Lyon and showed an increased presence in the Lorraine region. Consequently, when Henry VII moved to Italy to seek a Restauratio imperii there, Philip did everything he could to prevent this, since France had profited there, especially economically, from the collapse of imperial power after the end of the Hohenstaufen dynasty. In the anti-Staufer Guelfs around their head King Robert of Naples, France had a natural ally in Italy. But after the Guelfs failed to prevent Henry”s coronation as emperor, which was arranged by the pope, only his death in 1313 during a campaign against Robert of Naples was able to preserve France”s influence in Italy.

Marriage and descendants

On August 16, 1284, he married Queen Joan I of Navarre (1273-1305), a daughter of King Henry I the Fat and Blanche d”Artois. He had the following children with her:

Philip IV was committed to a pious lifestyle as a private citizen, which increased into bigoted austerity as he grew older. He had his three daughters-in-law arrested and imprisoned shortly before his death after they were accused of adultery by his daughter Isabella. (see: Tour de Nesle)

The French writer Maurice Druon was inspired by the story of Philip the Handsome and that of his family to write a seven-volume series of novels, Les Rois maudits (1955 to 1977). The first six volumes were filmed in six parts under the same title by the France 2 channel in 1972, with Georges Marchal in the role of King Philip the Handsome. In 2005, a Belgian TV production of the same name followed in five episodes, with Tchéky Karyo taking on the role of the king.


  1. Philipp IV. (Frankreich)
  2. Philip IV of France
  3. Chronicon Girardi de Fracheto et anonyma ejusdem operis continuation, in: Recueil des Historiens des Gaules et de la France 21 (1840), S. 17–18
  4. La statue qui disparut sous la Révolution représentait un chevalier casqué, monté sur un cheval richement caparaçonné.
  5. Pratique initiée au milieu du XIe siècle par les chevaliers et souverains du royaume d”Angleterre et du Saint-Empire romain germanique morts en croisade ou loin de leur lieu de sépulture choisi, tel Henri III du Saint-Empire.
  6. Le premier roi capétien dont la tripartition du corps — subie et non demandée — est bien attestée est Philippe III le Hardi.
  7. Dans la pratique, beaucoup bénéficieront de bulles d”exemption de la part des papes pour pouvoir pratiquer la dilaceratio corporis.
  8. ^ “Ce n”est ni un homme ni une bête. C”est une statue.”[2]
  9. ^ Bradbury states Philip fell from his horse, broke his leg which became infected, and died, 29 November 1314.[48]
  10. ^ Guillaume d”Ercuis, Livre de raison (archiviato dall”url originale il 17 novembre 2006).
  11. ^ Strayer, pp. 9-10.
  12. ^ Hallam, p. 356.
  13. ^ Strayer, pp. 10-11.
  14. ^ Contamine, p. 142.
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