Philip I (France)

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Philip I ( French: Philippe ; * May 23, 1052 ; † July 29 or 30, 1108 in Melun ) from the Capetian dynasty was king of France from 1059 - from 1060 as sole ruler - until his death .

Historicizing fantasy representation of Philip I of France (16th century)


Origin and youth

Philip was the eldest son of King Heinrich I and his second wife Anna of Kiev , who came from the Russian princely family of the Rurikids . Since they claimed a descendant of the ancient Macedonian king Philip II through their Byzantine relatives , Philip was named after him. Thus this name found its way into the Capetian dynasty and the Western European nobility as a whole. It was supposed to be worn by the last French king.

Nothing is known about Philip's childhood. He first appeared in the chronicles on May 23, 1059, when his father chose him from the greats of the empire and then had him consecrated king by Archbishop Gervais of Reims in the presence of two papal legates. This happened while the father was still alive, as the young Capetian dynasty was not yet naturally recognized as a royal family. In this way, however, Philip's father, who was already marked by diseases, could be certain that his son would succeed as ruler after his death.

On the occasion of Philip's coronation, the Archbishop of Reims first claimed that he alone, as the successor of St. Remigius, was entitled to perform the ordination. Philip was to underline this later in several festive coronations (1071, 1098, 1100, 1104).

Under guardianship

King Heinrich I died a year later, so Philip was still a minor. His mother and Count Baldwin V of Flanders , an uncle by marriage who abused this position more for selfish purposes, took over the reign for him . Philip took over a domain from his father that was actually limited to the crown domain , which at that time included no more than the Île-de-France , which stretched roughly from Orléans via Paris to the valley of the Oise . His sovereignty over the kingdom of the Franks ( regnum Francorum , the name of the kingdom) was only nominally recognized by the powerful crown vassals, who in fact pursued an independent policy. Of these princes, only Duke Wilhelm VIII of Aquitaine was present at Philip's coronation, the Duke of Burgundy and the Counts of Flanders and Anjou were represented by envoys. The remaining princes were absent, indicative of the low status that the Capetian kingship had meanwhile assumed.

The reign was shaken by his mother's marriage to the ambitious Count Rudolf von Valois and Vexin , which took place around 1061. But since the count had rejected his rightful wife, he was excommunicated by the Pope. Anna of Kiev no longer played a role as regent.

First years of government

On a court day in Paris, Philip took over the rule in 1067. The year before, his cousin the Duke of Normandy William had won the Battle of Hastings and thus established the Anglo-Norman Empire, which was to be a dangerous rival to the French kingdom throughout the Middle Ages. Baldwin V of Flanders had not done anything about it, instead several Flemings had taken part in the conquest of his son-in-law.

Philip I and his family from the Grandes Chroniques de France
(15th century)

Since a confrontation with the powerful Norman prince was out of the question for the time being, Philip pursued a gradual expansion of his crown domain. The opportunity offered him the fratricidal war in Anjou in 1068, where the king supported the revolting Fulko the quarrel . In return, the king was given the Gâtinais , thereby strengthening his position around Orléans.

Philip repeated this policy in 1070, when after the death of his cousin, Count Balduin VI. of Flanders , in whose county a war of succession broke out. The widow of the count, Richilde, had to defend the rights of her son Arnulf against her brother-in-law Robert the Friesian and allied with the Normans. In order to maintain his influence, Philip moved to Flanders with his own army to support Richilde. Although Robert the Friesian was captured by the Count of Boulogne, he was freed by the castellan of Saint-Omers and exchanged for Richilde without the knowledge of the king . In the subsequent Battle of Cassel (February 22, 1071) Countess Richilde was crushed, her son and second husband were killed, and Philip himself had to flee. He had no choice but to recognize Robert in Flanders, who in return left the Corbie Abbey to the king . But since Robert also needed an ally against the Norman influence in Flanders, he entered into an alliance with the king that was sealed by Philip's marriage with the Frisian stepdaughter Bertha of Holland .

Confrontation with William the Conqueror

In 1076 Philip dared a direct attack on Wilhelm the Conqueror when he successfully horrified the Breton Dol , which was besieged by him , and thus inflicted one of his few defeats on the conqueror. In the following year, Philip pushed the border of his domain further towards Normandy after he was able to get the Vexin up to the Epte ( Vexin français ) and Count Simon had withdrawn into a spiritual life. Furthermore, Philipp tried to use the family conflicts in the family of the conqueror for his own goals by supporting the eldest son of his rival, Robert Kurzhose , in his revolt against his father. He left the castle Gerberoy with short trousers , who managed to put his father to flight there in 1079 after a battle.

William the Conqueror retaliated against the king in 1087 by invading the Vexin and destroying Mantes . William fell from his horse and died a little later of the injuries. In Normandy, Robert Kurzhose inherited him.

Abduction of Bertrada von Montfort

Philip I with Bertrada von Montfort. The outcast Queen Bertha in her castle exile. Representation from the 14th century.

Philip himself turned the very successful first half of his reign into the opposite with an idiosyncratic act when he expelled his wife in 1092 because she was supposedly too fat. She was to replace Bertrada von Montfort , who was the wife of the Count of Anjou, with whom the king had fallen in love and whom he had kidnapped in order to marry her the next day, Pentecost Sunday (May 15, 1092).

The Bishop of Senlis willingly performed the wedding ceremony, but since both Bertrada and Philip were legally married at that time, the Holy See intervened in the matter. After Pope Urban II's admonitions had failed , Philip was excommunicated by thirty-two bishops on October 16, 1094 at a synod convened by the Archbishop of Lyon in Autun . At the Council of Clermont (November 18-28, 1095) the Pope confirmed the ban and forbade the clergy to take the feudal oath towards the king. Philipp remained banned for more than ten years, which considerably restricted his political freedom of action, as he could no longer fall back on his most important pillar of power, the clergy. He was also unable to take part in the first crusade , instead his younger brother Hugo von Vermandois took the cross as a representative of the crown.

This also changed the alliance constellations to the disadvantage of Philip, because the snubbed Count of Flanders now turned to Wilhelm II Rufus . The situation for Philipp became even more threatening when Robert Kurzhose went on the crusade in 1096 and entrusted Normandy to his younger brother Wilhelm Rufus. In the next few years he repeatedly led military campaigns against the king, especially in the Vexin. Philip could not do anything against the reunification of the Anglo-Norman Empire in 1106 by Heinrich I Beauclerc after the battle of Tinchebray . On the other hand, with the acquisition of the upper Berry 1101, the crown domain was expanded once again, when the Vice Count of Bourges pledged his fiefdom to the crown in order to finance his participation in the crusade.

As a further consequence of his decaying authority, Philip had his eldest son Ludwig in power from 1100, who was mainly occupied with the overthrow of insubordinate vassals or the settlement of feuds, for example the Counts of Roucy and the Archbishops of Reims. Furthermore, the court was increasingly ruled by Count Guido the Red of Rochefort and his family, who took advantage of the power struggle between Prince Ludwig and his stepmother.

The relationship with the church

Meeting between Pope Paschal II and King Philip I 1107 from Grandes Chroniques de France (1461)

Philip's excommunication should not hide the fact that he maintained a generally relaxed relationship with the reform papacy. When there was a dispute with Pope Gregory VII over the occupation of the diocese of Mâcon in 1074 , Philip relented after the threat of an interdict . When Philip fell victim to Italian merchants who wandered through his domain, he was unimpressed by subsequent papal threats. Even after he forbade his bishops in 1078 to take part in the Synod of Poitiers , which expressly forbade lay investiture , he did not have to fear any sanctions against himself. In complete contrast to the Roman-German emperor, who got into an epochal conflict with the reform papacy over the investiture question . After Philip and Bertrada had completed their separation under oath at a council in Paris in 1104, Pope Paschal II lifted the ban, although the couple subsequently failed to meet their obligations. At this time the Pope saw himself threatened by Emperor Heinrich V and therefore sought an alliance with the French king. At the same time, at this council, with the special mediation of Bishop Ivo von Chartres , the king and the pope were able to come to an agreement on the investiture question. The king recognized the compromise formula drafted by the Bishop of Chartres in 1097, according to which he was ready to accept the canonical choice and at the same time renounce the investiture with ring and staff. In addition, he received confirmation of the lienability of worldly goods for which a newly elected bishop had to swear allegiance to him. This compromise was confirmed at a synod in Troyes in 1107 by Paschal II, who at the same time annulled the marriage of the heir to the throne and his first wife and pronounced measures against clerical supporters of the emperor.

The King and Crown Prince then met with the Pope on May 1, 1107 in the Abbey of Saint-Denis . Remembering the help that their predecessor Charlemagne had given the Pope, they asked Paschal II for support in the fight against the emperor. Father and son vowed advice and help and together they accompanied him to Châlons-sur-Marne for a meeting with representatives of the emperor. When the talks failed, the Pope is said to have traveled back to Rome, according to Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis, “full of love for the French and fear and hatred of the Germans” . The alliance with the Pope should be permanent for the French kingship. In the event of conflicting elections, it should be decided in France in future which candidate should prevail.

Death and evaluation

Philip I on his deathbed

Philip I died on July 29 or 30, 1108 in Melun and was buried at his own will in the monastery of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire . The tomb is still preserved in its origin today as the monastery was not looted during the French Revolution . At 48, he had the third longest reign of a French king after Louis XIV and Louis XV. Although he had designated his eldest son Ludwig as his successor and participated in the government as early as 1100, he did not have him crowned co-king - probably at Betrada’s insistence - which did not secure his own succession.

Philip I's grave in Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire

The judgment of contemporary authors about Philip's rule was devastating, and this continued into more recent considerations of his government. In particular, his relationship with Bertrada, which was determined by dependence, and the ban on church that went with it, allowed the church chroniclers of that time to criticize. With her kidnapping, the reputation of the Capetian kingdom fell to the level of baronial robber baronism. Philip could not prevent the establishment of the Anglo-Norman Empire, he was in fact unable to act against the great vassals of the kingdom. The expansion of the crown domain was faced with a collapse of royal authority over the lords of the castle, who exercised control of the roads between the king's cities.

Nevertheless, Philip gave important impulses for the future of France. Because of the weak authority of his government under the territorial princes, he increasingly resorted to the four court offices of Seneschal ( Sénéchal ), cupbearer ( Bouteiller ), crown field lord ( Connétable ) and chamberlain ( Chambrier ) as witnesses to his documents. At the end of his reign they were the only witnesses to prevail, which marked a step forward in administrative history, as the crown separated itself in its decision-making from the mostly conflicting interests of the princes. Historically significant was the alliance with the Pope, founded by Philip in 1107, which was continued and expanded by his successors.

Marriages and descendants

Philip I was probably born around 1055 with Judith , a daughter of Emperor Heinrich III. , engaged, which was only mentioned in one Hungarian source.

In 1072 he married Bertha von Holland († 1093), a daughter of Count Florens I of Holland and Gertrud Billung. Your children were:

  • Konstanze ( Constance ; * probably 1078; † between 1124 and January 1126)
  • Louis VI. the fat ( Louis VI le Gros ; * autumn 1081; † August 1, 1137)
  • Heinrich ( Henri ; * probably 1083; † as a child)
  • Karl ( Charles ; * probably 1085; † as a child)
  • Odo ( Eudes ; * probably 1087; † 1096)

In his second marriage he was married to Bertrada von Montfort († February 14, 1117), daughter of Simon I von Montfort . The children were all recognized as legitimate:

  • Philipp ( Philippe ; * 1093; † after 1133), Count of Mantes
  • Fleuri ( Floris ; * 1095, July 1119 attested, † probably 1119 in Normandy);
    • ⚭ around 1110 NN, Dame de Nangis
  • Cecilie (* 1100; † after 1125)
  • Eustachie ( Eustachia ; * 1102, † around 1143), founder of the Benedictine Abbey of Yerres


Web links

Commons : Philipp I.  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Wilhelm von Malmesbury writes: quad illa praepinguis corpulentiae esset, a lecto removit
  2. ^ Henri Waquet, Suger: Vie de Louis VI le Gros (1964), p. 60, chap. 10
  3. Simonis de Kéza Gesta Hungarorum 57, p. 127
  4. the information on Floris and his wife comes from: Schwennicke, Europäische Stammtafeln Volume XIV (1991) Plate 146
predecessor Office successor
Heinrich I. King of France 1060–1108
Blason pays for FranceAncien.svg
Louis VI. the thick