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Who's Who in Medieval History and the Renaissance

King Philip IV of France





"Philip the Fair" (in French, Philippe le Bel), so called for his light hair and good looks, is well known for his troubles with the papacy. Excommunicated by Boniface VIII in 1296, evidently reconciled in 1297 and at odds again for arresting the papal legate on a trumped-up charge in 1300, Philip was instrumental in engineering the election of Pope Clement V and keeping the curia out of Rome, thus beginning the Avignon Papacy.

Philip also acquired Lyons and much of Aquitaine, temporarily and cruelly governed Flanders, levied severe taxes, persecuted the Jews and the Lombards for their wealth, and debased the coin of the realm. Perhaps most memorably, he attacked the Templars, seizing and executing the grand master and principal knights and confiscating their property.

At the same time, Philip was an effective ruler who knew how to make good use of his intelligent advisors and solicit the support of his subjects. He was an undeniably pious Christian whose faith in his role as God's chosen judge and protector of France led him to some rather extreme measures. Toward the end of his reign, when much of his aggressive activities were behind him, he was considered by some to be the sponsor of a golden age of peace and prosperity in France.

Important Dates

Crowned: Jan. 6, 1286
Arrested Pope Bonifaace VIII: Sept. 7, 1303
Arrested Templars: Oct. 13, 1307
Died: Nov. 29, 1314

On the Web

Catholic Encyclopedia: Philip IV
Fairly thorough overview, from a Catholic perspective, by Georges Goyau.

Philip IV
Concise introduction at Infoplease.

Philip IV - 1268-1314: The Man Who Brought The Templars Down
A brief introduction is followed by a useful timeline of Philip's life, at Stephen Dafoe & Alan Butler's site, A History & Mythos of the Knights Templar.

Philip IV of France
Concise, heavily-hyperlinked overview at Wikipedia.

Sites of Interest

Coin from Philip's Reign
Images of the obverse and reverse of this silver denier are provided along with a little background info at Jim's Medieval Coins site.

In Print

The link below will take you to a site where you can compare prices at booksellers across the web. More in-depth info about the book may be found by clicking on to the book's page at one of the online merchants.

The Reign of Philip the Fair
by Joseph Reese Strayer

Related Resources

Medieval France
General history, people, places, maps and more about France in the Middle Ages.



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Who's Who in Medieval History is copyright © 2000-2014 Melissa Snell. All rights reserved.




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