The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Philip IV of France

Philip IV (French: Philippe IV; 1268November 29, 1314) was King of France from 1285 until his death.

A member of the Capetian dynasty, Philip was born at the Palace of Fontainebleau at Seine-et-Marne, the son of King Philip III and Isabella of Aragon. Philip was nicknamed the Fair (le Bel) because of his handsome appearance.

As a king, Philip was determined to strengthen the monarchy at any cost. He relied more than any of his predecessors on a professional bureaucracy of legalists. His reign marks the French transition from a charismatic monarchy–which could all but collapse in an incompetent reign–to a bureaucratic kingdom, a move towards modernity.

Philip married queen Jeanne of Navarre (12711305) on August 16, 1284. The primary administrative benefit of this was lands of Champagne and Brie, an inheritance of Joan, which were adjacent to royal domain in Ile-de-France and became thus practically united to king's own lands, forming a vast area. During the reigns of Joan herself, and her three sons (1284-1329) these belonged to the person of king, but until 1329 they had become so entrenched in royal domain that king Philip VI of France (who was not heir of Joan) switched lands with the then rightful heiress Joan II of Navarre - Champagne and Brie remained royal domains and Joan received compensation as lands in Western Normandy. Kingdom of Navarre, a province in the Pyrenees, was not so important to interests of French crown - it remained in personal union 1284-1329, after which it went its separate way.

Philip IV arrested Jews so he could seize their goods to accommodate the inflated costs of modern warfare, condemned by his enemies in the Catholic Church as his spendthrift lifestyle. When he also levied taxes on the French clergy of one half their annual income, he caused an uproar within the Roman Catholic Church and the papacy. Still, Philippe emerged victorious with a French archbishop made Pope Clement V and the official seat of the papacy removed to Avignon, an enclave surrounded by French territories.

He suffered a major embarrassment when a army of 2,500 noble men-at-arms (Knights and Squires) and 4,000 infantry he sent to suppress an uprising in Flanders was defeated in the Battle of the Golden Spurs near Kortrijk on 11 July 1302. Philip reacted with energy to the humiliation and personally defeated the Flemings at Mon-en-Pévèle two years later. Finally, in 1305, Philip forced the Flemish to accept a harsh peace treaty that exacted heavy reparations and humiliating penalties.

On October 13, 1307, what may have been all the Knights Templar in France were simultaneously arrested by agents of Philippe the Fair, to be later tortured into admitting heresy in the Order. A modern historical view is that Philippe, who seized the considerable Templar treasury and broke up the Templar monastic banking system, simply sought to control it for himself.

The Knights Templar were a papal order, and answerable only to the pope. But Philippe used his influence over Clement V, who was largely a pawn of the king, to disband the order and remove its ecclesiatical status and protection in order to plunder it.

What became of the Templar treasures in France has long been a mystery that has led to many theories and speculations. There are a number of stories (legends?) regarding Templars who escaped from Philippe's agents, such as the tale that a number of ships sailed from France to Scotland possibly containing some of the Templar treasure, and that some of the Knights who sailed to Scotland later fought in the Battle of Bannockburn with Robert the Bruce when the Scots gained their independence from England.

Philippe tried and tortured a number of the Templars that he had captured, and in 1314 he had Jacques de Molay, the Templar Grand Master, and Geoffrey de Charney, the Preceptor of Normandy burned at the stake. It is said that de Molay cursed both Philippe and Clement V from the flames; both king and pope died within the next year.

Philippe IV's rule signaled the decline of the papacy's power from its near complete authority. He died during a hunt and is buried in Saint Denis Basilica.


The children of Philippe IV and Jeanne of Navarre were:

  1. Marguerite (1288-1300)
  2. Louis X - (October 4, 1289 - June 5, 1316)
  3. Isabelle - (1292 - August 23, 1358)
  4. Philippe V - (1293 - January 3, 1322)
  5. Charles IV - (1294 - February 1, 1328)
  6. Robert (1297-1308)

All three of his sons reaching adulthood would become king of France and his daughter, Queen of England.

He was succeeded by his son, Louis X.

See also

Sources and further reading

  • Goyau, Georges. "Philip IV (the Fair)." The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XII. 1911. [1]
  • Knights Templar History and Mythology [2]

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