Philip VI (France)

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Philip VI (French: Philippe VI de Valois; * 1293 ; † August 22, 1350 in Coulombs ) was King of France from 1328 to 1350 .

Philip VI from France

He was the first king from the House of Valois , a branch of the Capetian dynasty . The Hundred Years War between France and England began during his reign .


Count of Valois


Philip was the eldest son of Count Karl I von Valois († 1325) from his first marriage to Countess Margarethe von Anjou († 1299). Both parents were members of the Capetian dynasty. The father was a younger son of King Philip III. of France, while the mother belonged to the branch line of the Counts of Anjou . The Counts of Anjou descended from King Louis VIII of France and had attained royal dignity in southern Italy. Philip VI inherited from his father. the county of Valois , which gave the family its name, from his mother the counties of Anjou and Maine , making Philip one of the richest princes in the country and thus also taking over his father's prominent political position.


On February 1, 1328, Charles IV the Fair, the last King of the Capetians, died without leaving a direct inheritance son. All he left behind was a pregnant widow, which raised the question of reigning the orphaned throne until the child was born and, in the case of the birth of a boy, guardianship over the child. Linked to the question of reign should also be the succession to the throne in the case of the birth of a girl, according to which the regent should automatically take over the crown. The meeting of pairs and lawyers in Paris called a few days after the king's death had to decide in a fundamental discussion whether the government of the country could also be handed over to a member of the royal family who belonged to it through his mother. Women were excluded from the line of succession through the recognition of the Lex Salica in 1317; However, the question remained open as to whether they could pass on a claim to the line of succession. In this case, King Edward III would be . of England, as the nephew of the late king, the first candidate for the reign and, in the case of the birth of a girl, the first candidate for the throne.

The assembly ultimately decided that a woman who had no claim to the crown herself could not inherit it, so the claims of Edward, who had also made it through envoys, were rejected. Instead, Philip of Valois, as the dead king's first cousin, was entrusted with the reign of the kingdom. With Count Philipp von Évreux , another pretender of the Capetians with the same degree of kinship, who was also married to the daughter of King Louis X , was available for election, but he had neither the necessary influence nor personal ambition for this office . The decision in favor of Philip of Valois had a lasting influence on the French succession regulations, women were completely excluded from it and foreign rulers were deprived of the opportunity to take over the crown by marrying into the royal family.

Family table of the last Capetians:

Philip III
King of France
Philip IV
King of France
Count of Valois
Count of Évreux
Philip VI
King of France
Count of Évreux
Louis X.
King of France
Edward II
King of England
Philip V
King of France
Charles IV.
King of France
John I
King of France
Edward III.
King of England

King of France

Assumption of power

On April 1, 1328, the queen's widow gave birth to a daughter, whereupon Philip was proclaimed king on the same day. He quickly found a balance with the Count of Évreux and his wife by not denying them succession in the Kingdom of Navarre , to which he himself had no claim, and by providing them with additional lands in France. Only Philip did not want to do without Champagne and, after years of negotiations, was supposed to cede this rich province to the Crown. On May 29, 1328 Philip and his wife were anointed and crowned king in the Reims Cathedral in the presence of numerous pairs and King John of Bohemia .

Immediately afterwards he summoned his army at Arras in order to move with them to Flanders and to overthrow the popular revolt there against Count Louis of Flanders . In the battle of Cassel him it achieved a brilliant victory, the Flemish back under the dominion brought France.

Edward III. pays homage to Philip VI. in Amiens
(Grandes Chroniques de France, 14th century)

Encouraged by this success, Philip sent a delegation to London calling on the English king to take the feudal oath for the duchies of Aquitaine and Gascony ( Guyenne ), as had been determined in the Treaties of Paris in 1259 and 1303. The embassy initially failed due to the resolute rejection of the ruling queen mother Isabelle , daughter of King Philip IV of France , and sister of the former French king Charles IV, who pointed out that Philip of Valois, as the son of a count, did not have the son of a king could command. Only after the English king was threatened with the withdrawal of his fiefdom in France did Edward III travel. to Amiens , where in June 1329 he paid the required homage to Philip and through this act recognized him as King of France.

Domestic politics

In the following years Philip was busy with the consolidation of his rule in the kingdom, where he failed in 1330, at a meeting in Vincennes Castle , a clearer separation between spiritual and secular jurisdiction. This revealed his weak position of power vis-à-vis those clerical and secular pairs of his country, who had made the successor to the throne possible for him and whose interests he now had to take into account.

This was repeated in the complicated succession dispute in County Artois . After Countess Mathilde's death in 1329, Philipp considered the succession of her daughter Johanna , with which he passed over the claims of the former Count of Artois Robert . To compensate for this, he awarded this peerage for the county of Beaumont . After Johanna died in 1330, Philip intended to incorporate the Artois into the crown domain . But Johanna's daughter of the same name as well as Count Robert brought the case before the Paris Parliament (sic!), Which decided in Johanna's favor, a judgment that Philip had to recognize. Serious consequences for the king should mean the banishment of Roberts by the parliament, because he moved to the court of the English king, where from then on he conspired against France.

This again led to tensions between the two monarchs after Edward III. which Agenois, confiscated since 1324, reclaimed. At the same time, Philip asked the English king to pay homage again after he had found that the former in Amiens was not a ligature, as was otherwise customary for French pairs. In April 1331 both kings met at Pont-Sainte-Maxence (today in the Oise department ), where Edward renewed his oath and Philip returned Saintes , which he had conquered the year before, in return.

In the following years, Philipp suffered considerable setbacks, especially in financial policy, after he had to withdraw several tax levies, which the cities of Languedoc in particular refused to do. When he canceled his planned crusade undertaking in 1332 in view of the tensions with England, Pope Benedict XII ended. paying tithing to the crown, which further exacerbated its financial problems.

The Hundred Years War

The war starts

Despite the talks in 1331, relations between France and England deteriorated increasingly. The cause was once again the unclear legal relationships between the two kings in the Guyenne, which Eduard III. wanted to break away from French suzerainty as much as possible. Negotiations for the status of this fiefdom failed in 1333 after Philip had asked the English king to renounce the conquest of Scotland and granted the expelled Scottish king David II Bruce asylum. Philip responded to the diplomatic disputes that followed by moving his fleet from the Mediterranean to the English Channel and sending troops to Scotland. When Philip confiscated Guyenne and the county of Ponthieu on May 24, 1337 because Eduard had not fulfilled his feudal duties, he terminated his loyalty to the "who calls himself King of France". This actually meant the beginning of a state of war between the two kingdoms.

Edward III. looked for an alliance with Rhenish princes and finally with Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian , who was also due to his negative attitude towards Pope Johannes XXII. was an opponent of France. In the years 1335 to 1337 Philip succeeded several times in an absolution of the banished emperor by Pope Benedict XII. to prevent, with which he achieved a discrediting of Ludwig of Bavaria, which the freedom of action of the emperor in the empire and in his relationship to Eduard III. effectively disabled. A formal alliance between the English king and the emperor came about in Koblenz in August 1338 , but this hardly came to fruition because England could not or would not provide the agreed financial support for the emperor.

In 1338 the fighting began with sea battles in the English Channel and raids by French pirates on the English coast. In 1339 Philip had to accept the landing of English troops in Flanders, but was able to stop their advance at Saint-Quentin . In return, Eduard succeeded at the end of the year in convincing the Flemish citizens under Jacob van Artevelde , who had driven out their count after a revolt, into his alliance. The Flemish cities, which depend on wool imports from England, were the first to recognize Edward as King of France in the spring of 1340, but Philip was able to push back another advance by the English at Cambrai . However, his fleet suffered a heavy defeat on June 24, 1340 when it was destroyed by an English in the port of Sluis . This resulted in a stalemate that both parties used to sign an armistice (September 25).

The armistice caused again financial problems for Philipp, as the estates stopped paying the sales tax. The fighting continued, however, after Duke Johann III in 1341 . of Brittany died and then a war of succession broke out around Brittany , which developed into a proxy war of Philip and Edward, which was only supported by a short-term by Pope Clement VI. 1343 brokered armistice in Malestroit was interrupted. In order to finance the war, Philipp introduced a salt tax ( Gabelle ), which from then on gave the state the salt monopoly. He also carried out an improvement to the coin, for which he received new tax payments from the Estates General in 1343. The estates were still ready to provide or finance troop contingents after Philip offered them compensation for the economic losses suffered by the table.

Defeat at Crécy and death

A certificate of Philip VI. for his wife Joan of Burgundy, December 1347. Paris, Archives nationales, J 357 B, no. 15
Tomb of King Philip VI. in Saint-Denis

On July 11, 1346, Eduard landed unexpectedly with an army in Normandy , took Caen and moved east, crossing the Seine at Poissy . Philip hurriedly summoned a people's contingent and took up the pursuit of the weaker English army. North of Abbeville , the battle of Crécy took place on August 26th, where the French army of knights suffered a crushing defeat. In this battle 12,000 Englishmen, who however had 8,000 archers , prevailed against 40,000 French, mostly heavy cavalry. This ushered in the decline of chivalry . Philip's brother, Karl von Alençon , as well as John of Bohemia , fell in battle. Philip then withdrew to Amiens, while Eduard marched on Calais and took up the siege of the city. At the same time, Prince Johann had to give up the siege of Aiguillon and retreat to the north, which enabled the English to take larger areas in the south such as Poitiers . In May 1347 Philip managed to bring together a new army at Arras and to move to Calais for relief. However, his army was not strong enough to lift the siege, so he had to withdraw on August 2nd. Two days later Calais surrendered, whereby England gained a strong bridgehead on the northern French coast.

At that time, the Great Plague, known as the " Black Death ", spread across France within a few months . With papal mediation, an armistice was reached with England in September of the same year, which was agreed by Easter of the following year. In November Philip convened the Estates General, where he was confronted with clear criticism of his financial and war policy. Nevertheless, he managed to obtain new tax permits and military support from the estates, but a devastating plague wave in 1348 led to severe economic damage. For the time being, however, the war did not break out again. In return, Philipp was able to gain territories in the south by buying the city of Montpellier from the King of Mallorca in 1349 . His son was also able to take over the county of Albon ( Dauphiné ), which was nominally part of the empire , after the last Dauphin had retired to a monastery.

Philipp died on August 22, 1350 at the age of 57. When he died he left France in a critical condition, namely a temporary armistice with England, which was soon to expire under the reign of his son Johann that followed. He was considered brave, chivalrous and impulsive, but sometimes also as arrogant and somewhat reckless and, despite the painful defeats in his later reign, was considered one of the most capable kings on the throne of the lily.

He was buried in the tomb of the French kings, the Saint-Denis basilica . When the royal tombs of Saint-Denis were sacked during the French Revolution , his tomb was opened and looted on October 21, 1793, and his remains were buried in a mass grave outside the church.

Marriages and descendants

Philip married in Fontainebleau in 1313 Joan of Burgundy , a daughter of Duke Robert II of Burgundy and Agnes of France . Johanna died of the plague in 1348 or 1349 , both children were:

  • John II (born April 26, 1319 in Le Mans , † April 8, 1364 in London ), 1332 Duke of Normandy , King of France
  • Marie (* 1326 - † September 22, 1333 in Paris)
    • ⚭ 1332 with Johann von Brabant († 1335), marriage not consummated
  • Ludwig (born January 17, 1328 in Vincennes Castle; † young)
  • Ludwig (June 8, 1330 - June 23, 1330)
  • Johann (* 1332; † October 2, 1333)
  • Philip (born July 1, 1336 in Vincennes, † September 1, 1375 in Orléans ), Duke of Orléans
  • Johanna (* / † November 1337 in Vincennes Castle)
  • Son (* / † summer 1343)

In his second marriage, Philip was married to Blanka of Navarre († 1398), a daughter of King Philip III, from 1350 . and Queen Joan II. They had a daughter:

  • Johanna (* May 1351 - † September 16, 1371 in Béziers )

Philipp also had several illegitimate children:

  • Jean d'Armagnac († after 1350),
  • Thomas, seigneur de la Marche († 1361)


  • Joachim Ehlers : History of France in the Middle Ages . Stuttgart 1987, ISBN 3-17-009801-2 .
  • Bernhard Töpfer: Philipp VI. In: Joachim Ehlers, Heribert Müller, Bernd Schneidmüller (eds.): The French kings of the Middle Ages. CH Beck, Munich 1996, p. 251ff.

Web links

Commons : Philip VI of France  - collection of images, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Charles IV the Handsome King of France 1328–1350
Blason pays for FranceAncien.svg
Johann II the good