Philip II, king of France

Philip II or Philip Augustus, 1165–1223, king of France (1180–1223), son of Louis VII. During his reign the royal domains were more than doubled, and the royal power was consolidated at the expense of the feudal lords. Philip defeated a coalition of Flanders, Burgundy, and Champagne (1181–86), securing Amiens, Artois, and part of Vermandois from the count of Flanders. He then attacked (1187) the English territories in France. Allied (Nov., 1188) with Richard, the rebellious son of King Henry II of England, Philip compelled Henry to cede several territories to him. After Henry's death (1189), Philip and Richard, now king of England (see Richard I), left (1190) on the Third Crusade (see Crusades). They soon quarreled, and after the capture of Acre (see Akko) Philip returned (1191) to France. Richard also left the crusade but was captured on his way home by Leopold V of Austria. During Richard's captivity (1192–94), Philip conspired against him with Richard's brother John. After his release Richard made war (1194–99) on Philip, compelling him to surrender most of his annexations. When John acceded to the English throne on Richard's death (1199), Philip espoused the cause of Arthur I of Brittany and invaded John's French domains, forcing him to surrender (1204) Normandy, Brittany, Anjou, Maine, and Touraine. Philip later conquered Poitou. In 1214, at Bouvines, the French defeated the allied forces of John, Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV, and the count of Flanders; it was a victory that established France as a leading European power. When the English barons revolted against John (1215), they invited Philip's son Louis (later Louis VIII of France) to invade England and take the English throne; the venture failed. During Philip's reign the pope proclaimed the Crusade against the Albigenses. Although Philip did not participate directly in the crusade, he allowed his vassals to do so. Their victories prepared the ground for the annexation of S France by King Louis IX. In internal affairs Philip's most important reform was the creation of a class of salaried administrative officers, the baillis [bailiffs], to supervise local administration of the domain. Philip also systematized the collection of customs, tolls, fines, and fees due to the crown. He supported the towns of France against the royal barons, thereby increasing their power and prosperity. In Paris, he continued the construction of Notre-Dame de Paris, built the first Louvre, paved the main streets, and walled the city.

See biography by W. H. Hutton (1896, repr. 1970); J. W. Baldwin, The Government of Philip Augustus (1986).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: French History: Biographies