Philip IV of France

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Philip IV (April–June 1268 – 29 November 1314), called the Fair (French: le Bel), son and successor of Philip III, reigned as King of France from 1285 until his death. He was the husband of Joan I of Navarre, by virtue of which he was King of Navarre (as Philip I) and Count of Champagne from 1284 to 1305.



A member of the House of Capet, Philip was born at the Palace of Fontainebleau at Seine-et-Marne, the son of King Philip III and Isabella of Aragon. Philip was nicknamed the Fair (le Bel) because of his handsome appearance, but his inflexible personality gained him other epithets, from friend and foe alike. His fierce opponent Bernard Saisset, bishop of Pamiers, said of him, "He is neither man nor beast. He is a statue."[1]

His education was guided by Guillaume d'Ercuis, the almoner of his father.

As prince, just before his father's death, he negotiated the safe passage of the royal family out of Aragon after the unsuccessful Aragonese Crusade.

Consolidation of the royal demesne

Philip ascended the throne and became King at age 17, although according to the publication titled "The Life And Times Of Jacques de Molay", Philip was 16. As a king, Philip was determined to strengthen the monarchy at any cost. He relied, more than any of his predecessors, on a professional bureaucracy of legalists. Because to the public he kept aloof and left specific policies, especially unpopular ones, to his ministers, he was called a "useless owl" by his contemporaries, among them Bishop Bernard Saisset. [2] His reign marks the French transition from a charismatic monarchy – which could all but collapse in an incompetent reign – to a bureaucratic kingdom, a move, under a certain historical reading, towards modernity.

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