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King Philip II of France (1165-1223)

King Philip II of France, also known as Philip Augustus is the most famous and successful king of the Capetian dynasty. He was born at Gonesse, Val-d'Oise, in France on August 21, 1165. He was the son of the previous king, King Louis VII and his third wife. He was crowned king 1179, by his sickening father. They co-ruled France until his Father passed away at September 18, 1180. On April 28, 1180 he was married to Isabelle of Hainaut.

In the year 1189, King Philip II went on the Third Crusade with Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, and King Richard the Lionhearted, of England. At Lyons, King Philip's army and King Richard's army split off. The French army traveled by sea, and the English army traveled by land. The two armies met up and spent the winter together in Messina. The French army set sail for the Holy land on March 30, 1191. They launched many attacks on Acre, before the English army arrived. On July 12, 1191, Acre surrendered, but King Philip decided to return to France, because he was tired of crusading, and was ill with dysentery. King Richard the Lionhearted was displeased with this decision and was said to have said, "It is a shame and a disgrace on my lord if he goes away without having finished the business that brought him hither. But still, if he finds himself in bad health, or is afraid lest he should die here, his will be done." On July 31, 1191 King Philip returned to France, leaving the French army under the command of the Duke of Burgundy, Hugues III.

When King Philip returned to France, he used King Richard's absence to take back some of the French land which was under English rule. When King Richard returned to England in 1194, he regained most of the land King Philip had taken. King Richard the Lionhearted died in battle in the year 1199, and was succeeded by his half brother, King John.

King Philip decided to remarry, so on August 15, 1193, he married Ingeborg of Denmark, who was renamed Isambour. Philip refused to have her crowned queen for an unknown reason, and he put her into a convent. He then asked the pope for an annulment, but Ingeborg insisted that she was the rightful queen of France. Meanwhile, King Philip married again, this time to Princess Agnès of Méranie on May 7, 1196. The Pope, Pope Innocent III, declared this marriage invalid, because Philip II was still married to Isambour and in 1199, placed France under an interdict until September 7, 1200. King Philip finally took Isambour back as his wife in 1213.

In the year 1202, King John of England declared war on France. Philip used this as an excuse to capture most of the English holdings in France; Maine, Touraine, Anjou, Brittany, and all of Normandy. King Philip won the battle of Bouvines, in 1214, against England and their German allies, which established his hold on many of the conquered regions, making him the most powerful monarch in Europe.

King Philip made a series of government reforms while he was king, which helped to strengthen his authority, and laid the basis for later rule of French monarchs. Philip turned the capitol of France, Paris, into a virtual city of teachers. He accomplished this by paving the main roads and building a central market. He continued to build the Gothic Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral, which started construction in 1163, and in 1200, gave the University of Paris a charter. King Philip died at Mantes on July 14, 1223, and was succeeded by his son, Louis VIII.

Written by MNICY.


*) denotes a former staff member.