Philip IV of France

Philip the Fair
Philip IV in a detail from a 1315 miniature
King of France
Reign5 October 1285 – 29 November 1314
Coronation6 January 1286, Reims Cathedral
PredecessorPhilip III
SuccessorLouis X
King of Navarre
Reign16 August 1284 – 4 April 1305
PredecessorJoan I
SuccessorLouis I
Co-monarchJoan I
Born8 April – June 1268[1]
Palace of Fontainebleau, France
Died29 November 1314 (aged 46)
Fontainebleau, France
Burial9 December 1314[citation needed]
SpouseJoan I, Queen of Navarre
(m. 1284, died 1305)
among others...
FatherPhilip III, King of France
MotherIsabella of Aragon

Philip IV (April–June 1268 – 29 November 1314), called Philip the Fair (French: Philippe le Bel), was King of France from 1285 until his death (the eleventh from the House of Capet). By virtue of his marriage with Joan I of Navarre, he was also King of Navarre as Philip I from 1284 to 1305, as well as Count of Champagne. Although Philip was known as handsome, hence the epithet le Bel, his rigid and inflexible personality gained him (from friend and foe alike) other nicknames, such as the Iron King (French: le Roi de fer). His fierce opponent Bernard Saisset, bishop of Pamiers, said of him: "he is neither man nor beast. He is a statue."[2]

Philip relied on skillful civil servants, such as Guillaume de Nogaret and Enguerrand de Marigny, to govern the kingdom rather than on his nobles. Philip and his advisors were instrumental in the transformation of France from a feudal country to a centralized state.[3] Philip, who sought an uncontested monarchy, compelled his vassals by wars and restricted feudal usages.[4] His ambitions made him highly influential in European affairs. His goal was to place his relatives on foreign thrones. Princes from his house ruled in Naples and Hungary. He tried and failed to make another relative the Holy Roman Emperor. He began the long advance of France eastward by taking control of scattered fiefs.[5]

The most notable conflicts of Philip's reign include a dispute with the English over King Edward I's fiefs in southwestern France, and a war with the Flemish, who had rebelled against French royal authority and humiliated Philip at the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302. In 1306, Philip expelled the Jews from France, and in 1307 he annihilated the order of the Knights Templar. He was in debt to both groups and saw them as a "state within the state". To further strengthen the monarchy, Philip tried to take control of the French clergy, leading to a violent conflict with Pope Boniface VIII. This conflict resulted in the transfer of the papal court to the enclave of Avignon in 1309.

His final year saw a scandal amongst the royal family, known as the Tour de Nesle affair, in which Philip's three daughters-in-law were accused of adultery. His three sons were successively kings of France, Louis X, Philip V, and Charles IV. Their deaths without surviving sons of their own would compromise the future of the French royal house, which until then seemed secure, precipitating a succession crisis that would eventually lead to the Hundred Years' War (1337–1453).


A member of the House of Capet, Philip was born in the medieval fortress of Fontainebleau (Seine-et-Marne) to the future Philip III, the Bold, and his first wife, Isabella of Aragon.[6] He was the second of four sons born to the couple. His father was the heir apparent of France at that time, being the eldest son of King Louis IX (better known as St. Louis).

Gisant of Philip the Fair in the Basilica of Saint-Denis

In August 1270, when Philip was two years old, his grandfather died while on Crusade, his father became king, and his elder brother Louis became heir apparent. Only five months later, in January 1271, Philip's mother died after falling from a horse; she was pregnant with her fifth child at the time and had not yet been crowned queen beside her husband. A few months later, one of Philip's younger brothers, Robert, also died. Philip's father was finally crowned king at Rheims on 15 August 1271. Six days later, he married again; Philip's step-mother was Marie, daughter of the duke of Brabant.

In May 1276, Philip's elder brother Louis died, and the eight year old Philip became heir apparent. It was suspected that Louis had been poisoned, and that his stepmother, Marie of Brabant, had instigated the murder. One reason for these rumours was the fact that the queen had given birth to her own first son the month Louis died.[7] However, both Philip and his surviving full brother Charles lived well into adulthood and raised large families of their own.

The scholastic part of Philip's education was entrusted to Guillaume d'Ercuis, his father's almoner.[8]

After the unsuccessful Aragonese Crusade against Peter III of Aragon, which ended in October 1285, Philip may have negotiated an agreement with Peter for the safe withdrawal of the Crusader army.[9] This pact is attested to by Catalan chroniclers.[9] Joseph Strayer points out that such a deal was probably unnecessary, as Peter had little to gain from provoking a battle with the withdrawing French or angering the young Philip, who had friendly relations with Aragon through his mother.[10]

Philip married Queen Joan I of Navarre (1271–1305) on 16 August 1284. The two were affectionate and devoted to each other and Philip refused to remarry after Joan's death in 1305, despite the great political and financial rewards of doing so.[11] The primary administrative benefit of the marriage was Joan's inheritance of Champagne and Brie, which were adjacent to the royal demesne in Ile-de-France, and thus effectively were united to the king's own lands, expanding his realm.[12] The annexation of wealthy Champagne increased the royal revenues considerably, removed the autonomy of a large semi-independent fief and expanded royal territory eastward.[12] Philip also gained Lyon for France in 1312.[13]

Navarre remained in personal union with France, beginning in 1284 under Philip and Joan, for 44 years. The Kingdom of Navarre in the Pyrenees was poor but had a degree of strategic importance.[12] When in 1328 the Capetian line went extinct, the new Valois king, Philip VI, attempted to permanently annex the lands to France, compensating the lawful claimant, Joan II of Navarre, senior heir of Philip IV, with lands elsewhere in France. However, pressure from Joan II's family led to Phillip VI surrendering the land to Joan in 1329, and the rulers of Navarre and France were again different individuals.

Other Languages
azərbaycanca: IV Filip (Fransa)
беларуская: Філіп IV Прыгожы
български: Филип IV (Франция)
한국어: 필리프 4세
Bahasa Indonesia: Philippe IV dari Prancis
македонски: Филип IV Убавиот
Malagasy: Philippe IV
Simple English: Philip IV of France
slovenščina: Filip IV. Francoski
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Philippe IV od Francuske
Türkçe: IV. Philippe
Tiếng Việt: Philippe IV của Pháp