Philip II (France)

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Philip II August receives a papal legate. Illumination from the Grandes chroniques de France , around 1335 (British Library, London)

Philip II August ( French Philippe Auguste ; born August 21, 1165 in Gonesse , † July 14, 1223 in Mantes-la-Jolie ) was King of France from the Capetian dynasty from 1180 to 1223 . He was the only son of King Louis VII the Younger and his third wife Adele of Champagne .

Philip is considered to be one of the most important kings in the medieval history of France. His rule was determined by the struggle against the House of Plantagenet and the " Angevin Empire ". After eventful conflicts with Heinrich II. , Richard the Lionheart and Johann Ohneland , he was ultimately able to triumph over the Plantagenets and wrest most of their French territories from them. This made possible the breakthrough of the Capetian kingship to the extent that the king was now more powerful than any individual vassal in France. At the same time, his victory over Otto IV in the battle of Bouvines in 1214 helped Frederick II of Hohenstaufen to gain Roman-German kingship. Philip's nickname is contemporary. It is borrowed from the imperial title Augustus (French Auguste , "the sublime") and was given to him by his biographer Rigord .

Beginning and consolidation of power

Christ hands Philipp Dieudonné down from heaven to his parents ( Grandes Chroniques de France around 1270, Paris, Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève)

As a child, Philip was often called Dieudonné (“God's gift”) because his birth ended a dynastic crisis and preserved the continuity of the Capetian dynasty. He was born in his father's twenty-eighth year of reign and was the first and only son from his third marriage. Despite this background, Louis VII hesitated to have his son crowned co- king in order to secure Philip's succession. Probably the reason for this hesitation was the chilling example of the Plantagenet house, in which the sons fought with their father for power. Only after the king's health waned did he convene a meeting of the nobility in 1179 to seek advice. When the majority of the assembly voted in favor of Philip's coronation by acclamation , he was crowned king and anointed on November 1, 1179 in Reims .

After the death of Louis VII on September 18, 1180, Philip was able to succeed as king. However, at that time he was still considered underage at the age of fifteen, which is why a reign for the country emerged for the near future, consisting of Philip's mother, Adela von Champagne , and her brothers Archbishop Wilhelm von Reims , Count Theobald von Blois and Graf Stephan von Sancerre , composed. This group had already dominated the royal court in the last years of Louis VII's life and exercised power for the king who was temporarily unable to rule .

Despite his youth, Philip thought to take power immediately and stood against his mother and uncles. Against this he won a powerful ally in Count Philip of Flanders . Against the wishes of his mother, he married the Count's niece, Isabella von Hainaut , on April 28, 1180 , thereby breaking with his relatives. The situation turned into a real war; Adele von Champagne fled to Normandy in the hope of winning Henry II Plantagenet , arguably the most powerful man in France at the time, as an ally against her son. But Heinrich Plantagenet had other plans than to turn against his liege lord, since at that time he was busy enforcing the claims of his son-in-law, Heinrich the Lion , in Germany. According to the conventions of medieval feudal law, it was also considered dishonorable to take advantage of the minority of a feudal lord to attack him. Instead, Philipp and Heinrich Plantagenet met on June 28, 1180 in Gisors in order to form a joint defense alliance.

This development in turn led to a break between the French king and Philip of Flanders, who was a rival of the Plantagenets. On May 14, 1181, the Count of Flanders joined forces with the Counts of Blois-Champagne in Provins , which were also joined by the Counts of Nevers and Hainaut and the Duke of Burgundy . The crown domain was thus almost enclosed by the enemy alliance. Under pressure from Henry II, however, the Archbishop of Reims and the Counts of Blois-Champagne ended their opposition to Philip in 1182 and recognized Philip's rule. The young Queen Isabella also succeeded in breaking her father out of the alliance. Only the relationship with the Count of Flanders remained hostile. It was made worse by the death of his first wife in 1182, whose heir, the county of Vermandois , reclaimed Philip. The Count of Flanders was increasingly isolated by a failed alliance offer to Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa . After the war turned in favor of King Philip after several victories, the Count of Flanders was also ready to submit. In the Treaty of Boves in 1185, the king won the city of Amiens and 65 castles in the Vermandois and secured the right to the county of Artois as his wife's dowry. The Count of Flanders was able to keep the northern part of the Vermandois.

Thus Philip had asserted himself against his competitors until 1185, meanwhile of age, and assumed sole rule.

The Angevin threat

Philip's kingship

France at the beginning of the reign of Philip II in 1180. The crown domain is light blue, the possessions of Henry II of England in red.

Philipp came into a difficult inheritance. His father left him an orderly and efficient administrative apparatus. The advancing economic boom in cities like Paris and Orléans ensured the crown constant sources of income. The king's power was limited to the crown domain, an area that included the cities of Orléans, Sens , Senlis and Mantes , while the rest of the kingdom was ruled by powerful feudal lords. Philip's father and grandfather had already tried to break the power of such almost independent princes, but to no avail. During the reign of King Louis VII, another power structure emerged, the so-called Angevin Empire , which stretched over the entire west of the country, from the Pyrenees to the English Channel . It was in the hands of the House of Plantagenet and in personal union merged with the British Kingdom.

Like his father, Philip pursued a policy from the beginning of his rule that was to lead to the destruction of the Angevin Empire. He benefited from two important factors. On the one hand, he was the feudal lord for the French territories and, on the other hand, the sons of Henry II Plantagenet had fallen out among themselves and waged war against their own father.

Against Henry II Plantagenet

Although Heinrich II. Plantagenet appeared as his patron in the first years of Philip's rule, Philip promoted the conflict among the Plantagenets in order to weaken them. One pretext was the longstanding engagement between his older sister Alix and Richard the Lionheart , a younger son of Henry II and Duke of Aquitaine. The couple's marriage was intended to legitimize the Norman Vexin's property status with the Plantagenets, but Richard's refusal to marry the princess gave Philip legal recourse against the Plantagenets.

As early as 1183, Philip supported Heinrich II's eldest son, Heinrich the Younger , by sending him money and mercenaries in the fight against his father. But the younger Heinrich died suddenly in the same year, and King Heinrich II remained the winner in this dispute. In another meeting in Gisors on December 6th, 1183, Philip had to recognize old Heinrich in his possessions. But in the following year he was able to successfully persuade another son of Heinrich, Duke Gottfried of Bretagne , to come to the court in Paris and pay homage to him for Brittany . Even if Gottfried died in 1186 after a tournament accident, Brittany could be permanently detached from the Plantagenets because his widow turned against her husband's family.

Philip immediately proceeded to win Heinrich's next son, Richard the Lionheart, for his purposes. The upcoming question of the succession in the entire ownership of the Plantagenets played into his hands. Heinrich preferred his youngest son Johann Ohneland as heir, whom he shared with Adelheid, the older daughter of Humbert III. wanted to get married and enfeoff with Normandy . This in turn drove Richard into the arms of Philip, who rejected Heinrich's inheritance plans; in 1187 they formed an alliance against Heinrich in Paris. Richard was able to benefit from the resulting dependence on Philip after he forced Richard in 1187 to end his action against Count Raymond V of Toulouse . This brought Philip the conquest of Issoudun in the Berry . Then both directed their fight against Heinrich, as Philip was able to round off the win of the berry by taking Châteauroux in 1188.

In November 1188, Henry II, Richard and Philip met in Bonsmoulins . A peace agreement failed, especially after Richard paid homage to Philip for all of the French possession of the Plantagenets. This was unacceptable to Heinrich, as it meant his expropriation in France and also a separation of the mainland from England. Furthermore, Richard and Philipp demonstrated the imperturbability of their alliance by means of public gestures of trust, such as a brotherly kiss or sleeping in a bed. Heinrich then retired to England to return to France with an army in 1189 and lead the decisive battle with Richard and Philip. But these were militarily superior to him, ousted him from the Touraine , penetrated into the Maine and forced Heinrich on June 12, 1189 to flee from Le Mans to Chinon . On July 4, 1189 Heinrich was forced to conclude the peace treaty of Azay-le-Rideau , in which he had to confirm all of Philip's conquests, pay homage to him for the rest of the property and acknowledge Richard as heir. Heinrich died two days later in Chinon.

The third crusade

Embarkation of Philip Augustus for the Third Crusade (miniature around 1490)
Philipp August and Richard the Lionheart on the Third Crusade. (Representation from an edition of the Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum by William of Tire made around 1260. )

With Henry's death, the alliance between Philip and Richard disintegrated, as he now took the position of his father as King of England and head of the "Angevin Empire" and thus became Philip's new main opponent. Although Richard paid homage to the French king for all land holdings in Chaumont-en-Vexin on July 22, 1189 , he continued to refuse the urgently required marriage to Alice (Alix), so the conflict over the Vexin remained topical. A direct confrontation between the two kings did not take place at first, since the Christian West has demanded a crusade to recapture the city since the loss of Jerusalem to the Muslims in 1187. Philipp, Richard and Heinrich had already negotiated a crusade in Azay, which the first two now wanted to carry out together. That was primarily because no one really trusted the other and the absence of one king would have been an unimaginable advantage for those who stayed at home. The departure was delayed at first because Richard was busy with the subjugation of some vassals in Gascony and Philip's wife, Isabella von Hainaut, had died on March 15th. When both kings officially began their crusade in Vézelay on July 4, 1190 , Emperor Friedrich I Barbarossa had already died in Asia Minor. The reign of France was handed over to the royal council by Philip, chaired by his mother Adele and Archbishop William of Reims. Philip made sure that they were denied access to the state treasure, which was entrusted to the Templars for protection, with six respected citizens from Paris receiving the keys to the money chests.

After a few delays, Philip reached the Crusaders' camp in Acre on April 20, 1191 . Richard, on the other hand, was initially occupied with the conquest of Cyprus . There he married the Princess Berengaria of Navarre , to whom he had already become engaged in Sicily. A connection with Princess Alice (Alix) had become impossible. For Philip this rejection of his vassal represented a considerable loss of reputation, especially since Richard also ignored the demand for the restitution of the Vexins. On July 21, 1191, Acre fell into the hands of the Crusaders, a few days later Philip announced his return home. The pretext he used was the death of Count Philip of Flanders during the siege, whose inheritance had to be settled, including the enforcement of a right of the crown to the Artois. Richard made him swear on the gospel not to attack his French property, but nevertheless instructed his bankers in Pisa to raise the wages of his border troops. He himself stayed in Palestine to continue fighting Saladin .

On the way home Philip met Pope Celestine III in Rome . who released him from his crusade vow. He affirmed to the Pope, albeit unsuccessfully, that Richard the Lionheart was primarily responsible for the failed recapture of Jerusalem. He then met with Emperor Heinrich VI in Milan . , Barbarossa's successor, to renew the Staufer-Capetian alliance. Duke Leopold V of Austria , who hated the English king because he had humiliated him in front of Acre by having the ducal banner torn down from the city wall, took on the role of mediator . Philip and the emperor had additional interests after Richard had concluded an assistance agreement against the emperor with King Tankred of Sicily in 1191 . At Christmas 1191 Philip was already in Fontainebleau again and began to force his fight against Richard. In addition, he let rumors spread accusing the English king of trying to carry out an assassination attempt against him in Acre, which actually led some of Richard's vassals to the side of Philip.

After negotiations with Saladin in October 1192, Richard fell into the hands of Duke Leopold on his return journey while riding through Austria, from whom he was immediately handed over to Emperor Heinrich.

The Angevin War

Against Richard the Lionheart

Philip II used the capture of his rival in the spring of 1193 to attack his territories. First he advanced to Normandy, where he could take castles like Pacy , Ivry and especially the long-sought Gisors. Richard authorized a peace agreement from his imprisonment (Mantes, July 9, 1193) by confirming the conquests to Philip. Subsequently, Philipp tried again to cause a split in the Plantagenet family by supporting Johanns Ohneland's ambitions against his brother. For this support, Johann agreed in a secret agreement to hand over all of Normandy to the right of the Seine , including Rouen , and the Touraine to Philipp. He was also ready to take the oath of fief for England to Philip in the event of a successful takeover of the English throne.

Right: Richard the Lionheart during his captivity in Germany.
Left: Richard the Lionheart is wounded in front of Châlus.
(Illustration from the Effigies Regum Angliae , 14th century, London, British Library)

The mother of the two Angevin brothers, Queen Eleanor, opposed these plans . She tried to quickly release Richard from captivity, who in turn tried to delay Philipp and Johann by offering ransom to the emperor. Eleanor, however, had her captive son take the emperor's feudal oath and after she had raised the immense ransom, the emperor released Richard in the spring of 1194. He first brought the situation in England back under his control and in May 1194 crossed over to the mainland with an army. Gradually Richard recaptured his castles in Normandy, then marched south and drove Philip out of Touraine after the battle of Fréteval . On January 15, 1196 Philip was forced to sign the Peace of Louviers , but he also received some concessions from Richard, such as direct feudal sovereignty over the Auvergne .

The peace didn't last even half a year. After Richard failed in the subjugation of Brittany and the ruling Duchess sent her son Arthur , Richard's nephew and heir-designate, to the court of Paris, the fighting began again. Philip captured the Norman castle Aumale in June 1196 . Richard responded with an alliance with Count Baldwin IX. von Flanders and supported his nephew Otto von Braunschweig's candidacy for the throne in Germany in 1198 . Philip tried to counter the impending embrace of France by the Angevin-Welf alliance with an offensive, but in September 1198 he suffered a heavy defeat against Richard in the battle of Gisors .

In the peace negotiations of 1199, which were initiated with the mediation of the clergy, Philip suffered severe setbacks. The French Crown Prince was to marry a daughter of the King of Castile, who was allied with Richard, and Richard's holdings on the mainland were to be confirmed. Furthermore, Philip should recognize the election of Otto of Braunschweig as Roman-German king, only with the transfer of the castle Gisors he was accommodated. His military inferiority to Richard brought Philip's anti-Plantagenet policies to the brink of failure. But in April 1199 the situation turned surprisingly when Richard the Lionheart lost his life in the fight against the Vice Count of Limoges . This opened up a new possibility for the French king to continue the fight against the Plantagenets.

Against Johann Ohneland

Richard was succeeded by his younger brother Johann Ohneland, although there were uncertainties among the Angevin vassals about Arthur's inheritance rights of Brittany. Although Johann was generally recognized in England and Normandy, the county of Anjou in particular was not convinced of Johann's successor and stuck to Arthur. Since the negotiated peace agreement had not yet been signed, Philipp took the chance, made himself defender of Arthur's rights and attacked Johann. Since Johann avoided a direct fight, Philipp achieved a much better basis for negotiations by 1200 than he had with Richard. His actions were very promising, but his own family situation forced the King of France to give in.

The Rouen deed of surrender, dated June 1, 1204

In 1193 Philipp had the Danish princess Ingeborg , the sister of the Danish king Knut VI. married to persuade him to form an alliance against Richard. But on the day after the wedding, Philip demanded separation from the bride, as he found her too repulsive. Ingeborg, however, refused to consent to a divorce, whereupon Philipp disowned her and married the German noblewoman Agnes-Maria von Andechs-Meranien . The resulting bigamy prompted Pope Innocent III. to drastic steps and he imposed the interdict on France in 1198 . Philip's room for maneuver in his kingdom was increasingly threatened, especially because his most loyal supporters were in the ranks of the clergy. But his position was also endangered internationally, since his most important foreign policy allies were the Pope himself and the Staufers in the empire. Therefore Philip was forced to make a peace with Johann in 1200, which was sealed in the Treaty of Le Goulet . In it, Johann ceded some areas in Normandy to Philip and recognized him as the overlord of the rest of the mainland holdings. In return, Philipp dropped his support for Arthur.

The subsequent misconduct of Johann, however, again played an excuse for Philipp to take action against him. Johann had married Isabella of Angoulême in the summer of 1200 , but she had already been promised to Count Hugo X of Lusignan . As an Aquitanian count, Lusignan was a vassal of Johann, who was therefore out of the question as an instance to appeal to him. Instead, Lusignan turned to King Philip, who in turn was the feudal lord of John for Aquitaine. Philipp took the opportunity to prosecute Johann and opened a feudal process against him. In order to achieve reconciliation with the Pope at the same time, he convened a council in Soissons in May 1201 , at which he brought Ingeborg back to his side. And after Agnes-Maria von Andechs-Meranien died in July 1201, the Pope revoked the interdict and legitimized their children. After Johann had ignored four summons before the court in Paris by 1202, Philipp pronounced a default judgment on him and declared him forfeited in all of his countries in France. The war, which flared up again, could thus be regarded as the execution of an ordinary judgment and not as a campaign of conquest. The French king again resorted to Arthur of Brittany and he paid homage to him for all the Angevin lands. Arthur attacked his uncle with an army in Anjou in July 1202 and besieged his grandmother Eleanor in Mirebeau , but there he was surprised by Johann on August 1, 1202 and taken prisoner.

When the news of the murder of Arthur in Rouen by John spread in 1203, there was a general defection of his vassals, who now directly joined King Philip. He took advantage of the situation and marched into Normandy. In April 1204 he was able to seize the allegedly impregnable castle Château Gaillard by betrayal, which opened the way to Rouen for him. He marched there on June 24, 1204 after the city had surrendered without a fight on June 1. He then turned to Aquitaine, where the Duchess Eleanor had died in April 1204, and moved into Poitiers on August 11th . Johann could not do anything about this and was ready to sign the Thouars armistice on October 13, 1206 . In it he renounced the entire property of the Plantagenet family north of the Loire. The territories concerned, such as Normandy, Maine, Anjou and Touraine, were now able to add Philip to the crown domain, which he placed under royal administration. This also ended the connection established by William the Conqueror in 1066 between Normandy and England. Johann kept Aquitaine and Gascony, although from then on he paid little attention to these areas.

The "German" controversy for the throne

The "German" controversy for the throne in the Roman-German Empire between the Hohenstaufen and Guelphs , which began in 1197 after the death of Emperor Heinrich VI. had broken out. The strategic interest of both sides made it necessary to influence the political situation in Germany. The Plantagenets naturally supported their Guelph relatives in order to be able to open a second front against the King of France. On the other hand, Philipp was keen to prevent such an Angevin-Guelph embrace, which is why he promoted the Hohenstaufen as a counterweight to the Guelphs. In the summer of 1198, both parties elected their respective candidate for king, Philipp von Schwaben and Otto IV von Braunschweig, respectively, which resulted in a balance of power in the empire, until in 1208 the Staufer Philipp von Schwaben fell victim to an assassination attempt in Bamberg , so that Otto IV was the only German ruler and the old Staufer-Capetian alliance threatened to become obsolete. Although Philip tried to win Duke Heinrich von Brabant , who received a loan from him, as a candidate to succeed the murdered Philip of Swabia, Otto has now even been recognized as king by the leading supporters of the Staufer party. Even Pope Innocent III. lent his support to the Guelph, as he hoped to end the Hohenstaufen policy of uniting Sicily with the empire through him. After Otto IV was crowned emperor in Rome in October 1209 , France threatened to be isolated in terms of foreign policy.

The turning point brought the continuation of the Hohenstaufen Italian policy by Otto IV, which forced the Pope to reconsider his position. In November 1210 the Pope banished the emperor from church, which revived the Staufer cause. Philipp made contact with the old Staufer supporters in the empire, where he succeeded in detaching Landgrave Hermann I of Thuringia from the emperor. In September 1211, the young Staufer Friedrich II. , Crossing the Alps, reached Germany and was elected and crowned king there by his followers. In November of the same year, the Capetian-Staufer alliance was renewed at a meeting between Friedrich and Prince Ludwig in Vaucouleurs .

The Battle of Bouvines

The battle of Bouvines. (Depiction from La Toison d'or by Guillaume Fillastre, 16th century)

During these processes in the empire, after the defeat of the Angevin empire in 1204, Philip was busy consolidating the rule of the crown in the north of the country and extending it to the surrounding vassals, which was not without resistance. The situation in Flanders was problematic , where Philip had to fight over the inheritance of his first wife, Isabella von Hainaut, from the beginning of his government. To the Count Balduin IX. of Flanders from the alliance with the Plantagenets, he had to leave large parts of the Artois to him in the Treaty of Péronne 1200 . Count Balduin died as a crusader in Greece in 1204, leaving only daughters behind. The eldest daughter and heiress Johanna was married by Philipp in 1212 to the Portuguese prince Ferdinand (Ferrand) . Philip's son, Prince Ludwig, pressed for the inheritance of his mother Isabella to be able to take over and forced the Flemish count couple to surrender the Artois. In Brittany, Philip strengthened his influence by marrying his cousin Peter Mauclerc with the hereditary duchess Alix . During the War of Succession in Champagne , he supported the position of Countess Blanka and her underage son Theobald IV against their opponents, also here for the benefit of the royal interests.

In April 1213 an invasion of England was decided on a court in Soissons. The chance of destroying Johann Ohneland for good and at the same time establishing a union between England and France seemed favorable, since Johann had fallen out with his clergy through aggressive church policy, which caused the Archbishop of Canterbury to flee to France. As a result, the Pope removed the English king from his office and excommunicated him . Philip saw himself as the executor of the papal will and gathered his army in Boulogne . But Johann was aware of his danger and on May 15, 1213 submitted in all forms to the Pope, who forgave him, whereupon the invasion had to be stopped. Count Ferrand of Flanders had only half-heartedly lent his support to the king during these events and then demanded financial compensation for the loss of Artois. Philip and Louis therefore turned the army assembled in Boulogne to Flanders to subdue Ferrand. The campaign was militarily successful, by June 1213 Ferrand could be driven from Flanders and the country brought under control. Only the loss of the fleet in the port of Damme had to be accepted. The Count of Flanders and with him some other French vassals such as Count Rainald I of Dammartin and Rudolf I of Eu fled to England, where they paid homage to Johann Ohneland as their new liege lord. Johann recognized it as a general apostasy of the French vassals from their king and prepared for the decisive campaign to France to recapture the lost land holdings of the Plantagenets. His ally, Emperor Otto IV., For his part, assembled his army in order to turn the situation against the Hohenstaufen in Germany by defeating France and to win the controversy for the throne.

In the spring of 1214, Count Ferrand landed with an English contingent under Count William Longespée of Salisbury on the coast of Flanders, retook some cities and waited for the emperor's army to unite with them. At the same time Johann Ohneland landed with strong troops near La Rochelle on the Poitou coast , conquered the Breton Nantes and marched into the Anjou. Prince Ludwig temporarily ended the fight in Flanders and went against Johann. On July 2, 1214, he surprised him at the siege of Roche-aux-Moines , attacked his army and drove it back to the Poitou. Johann had to leave all his siege equipment behind, which prevented him from continuing the conquest. While Prince Ludwig continued to advance against Johann, Philip assembled his army, which consisted mainly of knights and communal militia from the Île-de-France, in anticipation of the emperor's attack. With the banners of the Oriflamme and the royal lilies at their head, he marched to Flanders in July 1214. There he met the imperial army on a Sunday, July 27th near Bouvines . Philipp took part in the varied fight with personal commitment and was pulled from his horse by opposing knights. Only the timely intervention of the royal knights prevented his capture. The decision in the fight was brought about by the flight of the emperor and his knights, the Counts of Flanders, Dammartin and Salisbury were taken prisoner.

The victory at Bouvines was one of the most decisive of the Middle Ages. Philipp was able to defend his successes against the Plantagenets from previous years, Johann Ohneland recognized the conditions created in 1204 on September 18, 1214 in Chinon in a new armistice. Even though the Angevin War was not formally ended until the Treaty of Paris in 1259, the Plantagenets no longer represented a threat to the Capetian kingdom. In the further course of the 13th century, England's kings were mainly involved in disputes with their own barons, even John had to grant them the Magna Carta in 1215 . At the same time, with this victory, Philip laid the foundation stone for the rise of the French crown to the dominant power in Western Europe while the imperial power began to decline. Philip made the resulting change in the relationship between France and the empire symbolically clear by sending Otto's captured golden supply wagon to his ally Frederick II in the imperial palace in Haguenau and placing the imperial standard with the broken wings of the imperial eagle at his feet let.

Last years

In the last ten years of his life, Philip was primarily concerned with expanding what had been achieved and reforming the administrative and feudal structures of his kingdom. In 1216 he even had the opportunity to unite England with France when the local barons invited his son Louis to become their king. Ludwig was able to conquer almost the entire English kingdom until King John Ohneland died. Whose underage son Heinrich III. but was immediately crowned by the loyal William Marshal and placed under the protection of the Pope. Philip then withdrew his son's support, who had to withdraw from England by 1217.

Philip August receives the Pope's envoy

Another important event for France during Philip's lifetime took place in the south ( Occitania ) of his kingdom. There were predominantly small allodial owners , which almost ruled out a solid vassal association such as existed in northern France. The Capetian kingship was at most formally recognized here, some areas were already under the suzerainty of the Crown of Aragón . If the northern part of France had been affected by church reform since the 11th century, the clergy in Occitania could not meet the demands for an apostolic lifestyle and the associated role model function, because the church reform passed this area almost without a trace. Since the 11th century this void has been filled by the new Cathar community . About a quarter of the population of Toulouse County was a member of this movement. This new religion was quite widespread in the ruling class, which was not least due to the rejection of the official church of France demanding the tithe.

The Roman official church declared Katharimus a heresy and in 1208 called for a crusade against the Cathars and their supporters ( Albigensian crusade ). King Philip could not take part in this war, despite the Pope's wishes, because his campaigns against John of England completely occupied him. Nevertheless, he was able to indirectly influence the course of the crusade by giving instructions to its leader, Simon de Montfort . On September 13, 1213, Montfort defeated the opponents of the crusade in the battle of Muret and was then able to establish a rule in the south, which he established based on the northern French model. But the war dragged on and Montfort was killed in the siege of Toulouse in 1218 . However, his son was unable to continue the crusade successfully. In 1219, Philip therefore sent his son to the south with a crusader army without making any significant progress. In 1222 Philip sent an army under the leadership of the Archbishop of Bourges against the Count of Toulouse.

Before he could even start a train south, Philip died on July 14, 1223 in Mantes, after a tour of Normandy, and was buried in the Abbey of Saint-Denis .

Reform activity

New feudal law

The French crown domain (blue) before and after the Philipp August government.
Fiefs of the Plantagenets in red, other vassals in green.

With the collapse of the Angevin Empire and the accompanying gain of large territories for the crown domain, the crown of France became the largest landowner in the empire. The resulting preponderance in the military and economic area allowed Philip to strengthen the lordly authority of the crown over the feudal nobility of the kingdom. This marked the beginning of a development from the Capetian kingship to a French monarchy, which covered all regions of the old West Frankish empire administratively and judicially. To this end, a fundamental change in the feudal order that had existed for almost three hundred years took place under his rule, in that the king no longer appeared first among equals before the liege princes, but now demanded legislative and judicial supremacy. The area of ​​sanctions under royal law (us et coutumes de France) , which until then had only been limited to the crown domain, was extended across the entire kingdom. With the court court, a central judicial instance was available, before which all questions of feudal law were to be discussed in the future. These measures were based on the gradual curtailment of the legal position of the nobility. Probably the most spectacular feudal process was carried out against the English King Johann Ohneland from 1200 to 1202 (see above). In order to accommodate the most powerful feudal aristocracy, who did not want to submit to the authority of the court court, Philip formed a separate judicial body with the pair court, in which the pairs could decide legal disputes among themselves.

The crown retained important rights when the feudal order was reorganized. For example, from now on all heiresses in the country had to swear to the crown to marry only with the express consent of the king, which ensured the crown had an effective opportunity to influence the country's territorial policy. A spectacular example of this kind was that of Countess Blanka of Champagne, who made such an oath in 1201 and thus effectively placed her underage daughter under the guardianship of the king. As guarantors of this oath, the countess's own vassals were committed, who promised to take action against the countess in favor of the crown if she should break the oath. Furthermore, the principle of the ligic loyalty (homagium ligium) was declared legally binding, according to which a vassal who has received fiefs from several lords was only obliged to one of them to achieve military success. Should one of the feudal lords be the crown itself, it was to be given priority in the loyalty of the league. Such measures were used throughout the country, which resulted in the most extensive dissolution of traditional feudal ties in favor of the position of the crown. The concept of fiefdom itself experienced a gradual change in definition. Increasingly, the crown received the homagium without granting a service item with powers to exercise rights in return. Instead, she granted mere loans, which opened up a source of income for the borrower, for which he committed himself to the crown in return.

Handwritten testament of King Philip II August, September 1222

In order to additionally reduce the economic base of the nobility, measures were adopted that led to the division of property rights. In 1209, the court court issued a new regulation of the right to divide the estate. Previously it was customary for a younger son of a family to receive his inherited property from the older brother as a fief, now both had to pay homage to the crown for their inheritance. In 1214, the provision was passed that the widowing of a widow had to make up at least half of the man's property, which meant additional economic losses for his inheritance.

The resulting social changes for the nobility tied them to the crown to an ever increasing extent since the time of Philip. This development was promoted by the increasing use of mercenaries by the Crown. Although this was more costly, it made the king more independent in military matters of reliance on his vassals' duty of success. The armored aristocratic rider continued to play a central role in France's warfare until the late Middle Ages, but was now tied more closely to him and his court due to his increasing economic dependence on the king.

Administrative history

A certificate from Philip dated 1204. Paris, Archives Nationales, J 396, no.1

In order to consolidate this new legal system, Philip pushed ahead with the establishment of a uniform royal administration throughout the country. The three most important aids for this were the written form of administration, a corps of reliable officials and an orderly financial system.

Philip was the first French king to order extensive codification and archiving of all judgments and edicts of the court. Until now it was customary to link the location of the royal archive to that of the king, but Philip set it up at a permanent location in Paris (Trésor des chartes) . This measure was owed to the loss of the archive in the Battle of Fréteval in 1194 and thus laid the foundation for the creation of the French National Archives . In addition, the awkwardly formulated documents of earlier centuries gave way to brief royal mandates, copies of which were kept in the archive.

Philip II tried to show presence where he was not present. His father had already set up the crown domain in smaller administrative units, the so-called Prévoté (bailiwicks). Philipp continued to expand it and added additional instances by subordinating several Prévoté to an administrative district. North of the Loire this was the Bailliage and south of the Sénéchaussée (see Bailliage and Sénéchaussée ). The bailiffs or the seneschals represented henceforth in the thus created each office districts the authority of the crown and represented them in legal matters. The Prévoté, now subordinate to them, stood by their side as police enforcement bodies. The main difference between Bailli and Seneschal was that the former was appointed directly by the King, while the office of Seneschal remained largely hereditary in the hands of noble families.

Plan of Paris in 1223, with the city walls of King Philip Augustus

The administrative apparatus required for this drove in the money needed for it, on the one hand, but swallowed it up again, so that fines, special taxes, the removal of Jewish assets (expulsion of Jews from France in 1182) and road tolls (Pèage) had to fill the budget holes that had arisen. A pure agricultural economy could no longer do this; rather, trade, industry and the circulation of money had to work together.


Under Philip's rule, Paris finally advanced to become the main main residence of the French monarchy and thus the country's capital. He expanded the royal palace on the Île de la Cité to a representative palace ( Palais de la Cité ), to which he added the building of the royal archives, with which the city now also became the administrative center of the kingdom. To promote economic prosperity, he granted the city fair privilege in 1181 and only two years later the first two market halls were built, from which the Quartier des Halles emerged . In 1185 Philip gave the order to pave the main streets, built a new tower for the Louvre castle by 1214 and began building a new city wall , which was secured with several towers (including the Tour de Nesle ).

With the enactment of the scholar privilege in 1200, Philip placed the students and masters of the Latin Quarter under royal protection. In doing so, he established their legal autonomy, which in the years to come led to the formation of the University of Paris . The resulting ambiguities with the Bishop of Paris regarding legal competences in the city were redefined in the forma pacis drawn up in 1222 in favor of the crown.



Philip I
Bertha of Holland
(? -1093)
Humbert II by Maurienne
(? –1103)
Gisela of Burgundy
(? -?)
Stephan of Blois
(? -1102)
Adela of Normandy
(? –1138)
Engelbert of Carinthia
(? –1141)
Uta from Passau
(? -?)
Louis VI. the thick
Adelheid von Maurienne
(? –1154)
Theobald II of Champagne
Mathilde of Carinthia
(? –1160)
Louis VII the Younger
Adele of Champagne
Philip II August


On April 28, 1180 Philipp married Isabelle von Hennegau († 1190) for the first time. With her he had the children:

  • Louis VIII the Lion (* 1187; † 1226), King of France
  • Philipp (March 15, 1190 - March 18, 1190)
  • Robert (March 15, 1190 - March 18, 1190)

On August 14, 1193 he married Ingeborg of Denmark († 1236). He tried several times to have his marriage with her annulled. The couple lived separately until Philip's death and had no children. In his third marriage on June 1, 1196, he married Agnes-Maria von Andechs-Meranien († 1201). The marriage was not recognized by the Pope, as Philip was already legally married to Ingeborg. The following children emerged from this marriage and were legitimized by the Pope:

  • Marie (1198--15 August 1238)
  1. ⚭ 1210 with Margrave Philip I of Namur
  2. ⚭ April 22nd, 1213 with Duke Heinrich I of Brabant

Philip II was the father of an illegitimate son:


The two most important sources on the life of Philip II August are the works of Rigord (Gesta Philippi Augusti) and Wilhelm the Breton (La Philippide) . Rigord began the Gesta with the coronation of Philip from 1179 to 1206, from then on it was continued by the royal chaplain Wilhelm the Breton until 1220. Wilhelm himself began immediately after the Battle of Bouvines in 1214 with the epic poetry Philippidos (French: La Philippide ), which he completed in 1224. The Gesta found its way into the Grandes Chroniques de France and were edited with the Philippidos by HF Delaborde in two volumes ( umeuvres de Rigord et de Guillaume le Breton , 1882/95).

In addition, the works of the English chroniclers Roger von Hoveden ( Gesta Regis Henrici Secundi et Gesta Regis Ricardi Benedicti abbatis and Chronica ) and Roger von Wendover (Flores historiarum) should be mentioned.


  • John W. Baldwin: The Government of Philip Augustus. Foundations of French Royal Power in the Middle Ages. University of California Press, Berkeley 1986, ISBN 0-520-05272-2 .
  • Alexander Cartellieri : Philip II August, King of France. In 4 volumes. Aalen 1969, ISBN 3-511-03840-5 . (Reprint of the Leipzig 1899 edition).
  • Robert-Henri Bautier (ed.): La France de Philippe Auguste: Le temps des mutations. Actes du colloque international organisé par le CNRS (Paris, September 29 - October 4, 1980). Paris 1982, ISBN 2-222-02824-8 .
  • Georges Duby : The Sunday of Bouvines. Wagenbach, Berlin 1988, ISBN 3-8031-3541-9 . (fr. Paris 1973);
  • Joachim Ehlers : History of France in the Middle Ages. Scientific Book Society, Stuttgart 1987, new edition Darmstadt 2009, ISBN 978-3-534-22146-2 .
  • Gérard Sivéry: Philippe Auguste. Plon, Paris 1993, ISBN 2-259-02699-0 .


In 1968, the Brit played Timothy Dalton in the film The Lion in Winter (The Lion in Winter) King Philip of France. The film takes place around Christmas time in 1183 and is about the intrigues surrounding the successor to Heinrich II Plantagenet. Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers played this role in the 2003 TV remake of the same name .

Web links

Commons : Philip II (France)  - collection of images, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Louis VII King of France 1180–1223
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Louis VIII
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on December 24, 2005 .