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Philip II of France (1165-1223) – Augustus

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Philip’s father, Louis VII, for a long time could not acquire an heir. After a divorce from the heiress of Aquitaine, Eleanor, he left two daughters. His second wife, Constance Castile, also bore him two daughters, having died at the birth of the second. After her death in 1160, the king hurried to marry a third time.

On August 21, 1165, in the castle of Gonesse (according to the most common version), Adele gave birth to Louis VII, the long-awaited heir, named Philip and nicknamed Dieudonné (given by God).

King Louis died on September 18, 1180. Louis VII left his son a fairly effective administrative apparatus and growing sources of income in the form of rapidly developing cities (primarily Paris and Orleans). But at the same time the power of the king was limited to the territory of the domain, covering the Ile-de-France, Orleans and part of Picardy, outside of which the powerful princes ruled uncontrollably. The entire western part of the kingdom belonged to the Plantagenets, who owned the English crown. The main task for Philip was the weakening of this dynasty.

Philip and Henry II

The English king Henry II Plantagenet supported Philip in the first few years of his reign. Nevertheless, the French king, no later than 1183, began the traditional Capeet policy of supporting rebellious members of the English royal house. Heinrich the Young King received from Philip money and troops, but died the same year. On December 6, 1183, a new meeting of the two kings took place in Gisore, during which Philip recognized Henry all his possessions on the continent. The following year, great success was achieved: another son of Henry II, Jeffrey, Duke of Breton, arrived in Paris and took Philip the vassal oath. He also died very young in 1186, but his widow, who was in charge of his son and heir, was a supporter of the Capetians.

After the death of Jeffrey, Philip began to support Prince Richard, who was afraid to be deprived because of his father’s obviously greater love for his youngest son, John. During the meeting of the monarchs in Bonmulin on November 18, 1188, Philip demanded that Henry give Normandy, Anjou, Touraine and Maine to the eldest son. Hearing the refusal, Richard swore an oath to Philip for his possessions in France; The meeting was interrupted. After that, Richard spent Christmas at the French court. The following year, Philip, acting as protector of the English prince, took the Tour. Soon the news of the death of Henry II (June 1189 ) was received.

Participation in the Third Crusade

Philip and Richard the Lionheart took the cross together. They entered into an agreement under which they pledged to help each other in a crusade and to divide in half all the conquered lands (1190). If one of them died on the way to the Holy Land, the other would lead his people. It was assumed that the kings would go all the way together, but the armies turned out to be too numerous, so they had to split up to avoid supply problems. Philip walked ahead. In September 1190 he reached Messina, where he waited for the English Crusaders. Here both armies spent the winter.

Richard intervened in the dynastic struggle in the Sicilian kingdom; Philip had to become a mediator between him and the rebels against the British Messina, and in March 1191 to sail to Syria alone, not waiting for Richard to finish his Italian affairs. The French joined the siege of Acre. When Richard arrived here, it became clear that the former allies had become almost enemies. Richard refused to give Philip a part of the conquered Cyprus; Kings became supporters of various contenders for the Jerusalem crown: Philip supported Conrad of Montferrat, Richard- Guy de Lusignan. Their feud was one of the main reasons for the failure of the crusade. Soon after the capitulation of Acre, Philip sailed to his kingdom. His intrigues in France largely forced Richard to interrupt his march earlier than he had planned.

Philip II Augustus constantly intrigued against his ally; he was out of himself, feeling completely helpless in the diplomatic field, but he did not dare to use force. Saint-Jean-d’Acres (Acre) was hardly taken, as Philip returned to France, vowing to Richard that he would not attack his possessions. He did not attack them, but started secret negotiations with John Landless, who ruled England in the absence of his brother. Richard, having heard about it, hurried home, but on the way fell into the hands of his enemy Leopold of Austria.

Philip Augustus and Richard the Lionheart.

Fighting Plantagenets

Upon the return of Philip from a crusade through France, rumors were spreading that Richard in Palestine had allegedly betrayed Christianity. Bishop Bové Philippe de Dreux convinced King Phillip that Richard was plotting to kill him. When Richard was captured in Austria (December 1192 ), the emperor accused him, among other things, of trying to kill the French king. Richard denied all charges and was able to defend himself. Sources report that Philip was ready to pay Henry VI a huge sum to keep Richard captive, but the imperial princes did not allow this.

Having received news of the arrest of Richard, Philip moved his troops to Normandy (early 1193). He took the castles Gisore, Ivri, Pasi. An agreement was signed with Prince John, according to which Touraine and part of Normandy on the right bank of the Seine were to go to the French crown; in the event of his accession to the throne, John pledged to take Philippean oath for England.

In February 1194, Richard, despite the best efforts of Philip, received freedom. The French king sent a letter to Prince John with the words “Be careful. The devil is free.” But the prince in May, when his elder brother appeared in Normandy, reconciled with him. Philip had to lift the siege from Werney, and on July 5 he was defeated at Freteval. Having lost the conquered positions in Normandy and Touraine, the French king agreed to a truce, later extended until January 1196.

When the truce expired, Philip was able to take Nonancourt and Omal and make his Breton ally; Richard, however, achieved the election of his nephew Otto of Brunswick by the German king, made an alliance with Flanders and strengthened Chateau-Gaillard. In the battle of Gisore in September 1198, Philip was again defeated. After that, he agreed at a meeting with Richard in January 1199 for a five-year truce, under which he retained all his possessions for his vassal, recognized Otto as king of Germany and had to marry his son to one of Richard’s nieces.

Already in April, Richard died in Limousin. Thanks to this, new opportunities opened up for Philip.

John Landless

Philip used against his new king John of England his nephew Arthur of Breton, who had many adherents not only in Brittany, but also in Anjou, Touraine and Maine. Open war resumed. But Philip, excommunicated by the Pope because of his scandalous divorce from Ingeborg Danish, was forced in May 1200 to sign the peace in Le Goulet. Under the terms of the contract, he recognized John as Richard’s heir in all his possessions, received the county of Evreux, most of Veksen and part of Berry, his son Louis married his niece John Blanca of Castile, whose dowries were Shatodene and Youdon counties. John took the vassal oath and undertook to pay 20,000 marks as a relief.

By the autumn of the same year, Philip improved his relationship with the papacy and received a new cause for conflict: John kidnapped Hugo IX’s bride de Luzignan Angouleme and married her himself. Lusignan appealed for help to their overlord – the king of France. In March 1202, Philip met with John at Le Goulet and demanded that he not only satisfy the claims of Lusignan, but also convey to Arthur of Breton Anjou, Normandy and Poitou. John refused to do this and did not come to Paris for a peer trial. Then all his possessions in France were declared confiscated by the crown (April 1202).

Philip took an oath from Arthur for Brittany, Anjou and Touraine and moved the army to Normandy. Thanks to the transfer of the leader of the Angevin barons Guillaume de Roche to the side of John, the latter was able to capture Arthur, who was imprisoned in the Falesa castle. But, since John’s French vassals considered themselves to be deceived by their overlord (John promised them that Arthur would retain not only freedom, but also possessions formally received from Philip), the French king had already made Barons of Anjou, Poitou, Count Alençon his allies by March 1203. His troops established control over Anjou and Touraine and laid siege to Chateau Gaillard, who barred the way to Rouen. The murder of Arthur on the orders of his uncle (the end of 1203) caused a number of Norman barons to side with the French crown.

In March 1204, Château-Gaillard fell, and by June Philip was already in control of all of Normandy. Pope Innocent III, who sympathized with John, tried to stop the hostilities, but the French king did not listen to him. By 1205, Philip occupied Poitou and Sentonge, and in early 1206 he achieved significant success in Brittany, where he even began to mint coins with his image as the duke of Breton. King John struck a counterblow from La Rochelle: he occupied Angers and supported the revolt of the barons of Sentonge and Poitou. Philip laid siege to the English king at Tuar, but in view of the intensification of the uprising, he agreed to a truce, according to which he returned to John all possessions south of the Loire, while maintaining control over Normandy, Anjou, Maine and Touraine.

War with the anti-French coalition

The struggle between the kings of France and England was closely linked to the feud between Stauffen and Welfe in Germany. John Landless supported his nephew Otto to open a second front against France in the east. When the latter was killed (1208), Philip Augustus tried to nominate Heinrich of Brabant, but Otton was able to get recognition from the leaders of the Staufen party and even from the pope, who hoped to break the union of the Empire and Sicily with his help. After the coronation of Otto in Rome in 1209, Philip Augustus was in foreign policy isolation.

Fortunately for the French crown, Otto decided to continue the Stauffen policy in Italy and as a result quickly became the pope’s worst enemy. Philip Augustus established contacts with a number of German princes and, with the support of the Holy See, secured the election of King Friedrich II Staufen (1211) as nephew of Philip of Swabian. During the personal meeting of the two monarchs in Vokulera, the alliance between the Stauffen and the Capetians against the Welfs and the Plantagenets was restored.

In 1213, the pope announced the overthrow of John Landless, had already been excommunicated for four years, and suggested that Philip Augustus take a crusade to England. The French king assembled a huge fleet, but nine days before his departure, John declined his willingness to bring a close wag to the pope and reconciled himself to the Holy See in this way. Philip Augustus had to abandon the idea of ​​landing. Throughout 1213, he fought a war with the Count of Flanders, John’s ally. In this war, despite the first successes, the French fleet was destroyed under Damme, and thanks to the English landing force, the French were able to retain control only over Ypres and Douai.

This conflict began in 1214. Participants in the anti-French coalition decided to deliver a combined strike: John from Aquitaine, Otto, counts of Flanders, Dutch and Boulogne, the Duke of Brabant and others from Aachen. John took Angers and laid siege to La Roche-o-Muan, but when Louis’s son Louis approached the fortress, the barons of Poitou, who were in the army of the English king, fled. John took refuge in la Rochelle. Meanwhile, Philip Augustus set out to meet Otto’s army. On July 28, under Buvin, the largest of these Kapetan battles occurred at that time. Philip himself participated in the battle, and the enemies even dragged him from the horse with hooks, but the knights from the royal suite rescued him and sat him again in the saddle. Philip won a complete victory. This entailed the assertion in Germany of his ally Friedrich, the surrender of the nobility to Poitou, and John’s request for a truce, which meant the de facto recognition that Normandy, Anjou, Touraine, Maine and Poitou became part of the royal domain.

Recent years

The last nine years of his life, Philip Augustus was mainly engaged in reforming the management of his overgrown domain. In 1216, the English barons offered his son a crown; Louis landed in England and at first achieved great success, but after the death of John Lackland he had to return to France.

Since 1209, the crusaders of northern France waged a war in Occitania against the Albigensians, who were supported by the Count of Toulouse and other major lords. Philip Augustus for a long time refrained from participating in this war, but after the defeat of his enemies and the death of Simon de Montfort ( 1218 ), he ceased to stand aside. He twice sent his troops to the south: in 1219, led by his son Louis, and in 1222, led by the Archbishop of Bourges.

Philip Augustus died on July 14, 1223 in Manta and was buried in Saint-Denis. His son, Louis, was already 36 years old, yet he was not crowned. This could be connected both with the strengthening of the dynasty, which did not need more in the institution of co-rule, and with the fears of Philip Augustus regarding the claims to the power of his son, who was married to the imperious Castilian princess.


Luchaire, Philippe-Auguste (1884);
Williston-Walker, “On the increase of the power of France under Ph.-Aug.” (1888).
Georges Bordonove, Philippe II Auguste
John W. Baldwin, Philippe Auguste et son gouvernement – Les fondations du pouvoir royal en france au Moyen, traduit de l’anglais par Béatrice Bonne, préface de Jacques Le Goff, Fayard, 1991  )
Seaver Gerard, Philip August

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