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Philip VI the Fortunate
King of France (more...)
Reign 1 April 1328 – 22 August 1350
Coronation 29 May 1328
Predecessor Charles IV
Successor John II
Spouse Joan of Burgundy
Blanche d'Évreux
John II
Philip of Valois, Duke of Orléans
Father Charles, Count of Valois
Mother Margaret, Countess of Anjou
Born 1293
Died 22 August 1350 (aged 57)
Nogent-le-Roi, Eure-et-Loir, France
Burial Saint Denis Basilica

Philip VI (1293 – 22 August 1350), known as the Fortunate (French: le Fortuné[1]) and of Valois, was the King of France from 1328 to his death. He was also Count of Anjou, Maine, and Valois from 1325 to 1328. A member of the Capetian dynasty, he was the son of Charles of Valois (who was the brother of King Charles IV's father Philip IV) and the first King of France from the House of Valois.


Ascension to the throne

Philip's father, the younger brother of King Philip IV of France, had striven throughout his life to gain a throne for himself, but was never successful. He died in 1325, leaving his eldest son Philip as heir to the counties of Anjou, Maine, and Valois.

In 1328, Philip's first cousin, King Charles IV, died without a direct male descendant; however, at the time of his death his wife was pregnant. Philip was one of the two chief claimants to the throne along with the demands of Dowager Queen Isabella of England, the late King Charles' sister, who claimed the French throne for her young son King Edward III of England. Philip rose to the regency with support of the French magnates, following the pattern set up by Philip V's succession over his niece Joan II of Navarre, and Charles IV's succession over all his nieces, including daughters of Philip V. A century later this pattern became the Salic law, which forbade females and those descended in the female line from succeeding to the throne. After Charles' queen, Jeanne d'Évreux, gave birth to a girl, Philip was crowned as King on 29 May 1328[2] at the Cathedral in Reims. Philip VI was neither an heir nor a descendant of Joan I of Navarre, whose inheritance (the kingdom of Navarre, as well as the counties of Champagne, Troyes, Meaux and Brie) had been in personal union with the crown of France almost 50 years and had long been administered by the same royal machinery (established by Philip IV, the father of French bureaucracy), which administrative resource was inherited by Philip VI. These counties were closely entrenched in the economic and administrative entity of the Royal Domain of France, being located adjacent to Ile-de-France. Philip, however, was not entitled to that inheritance; the rightful heiress was Louis X's surviving daughter, the future Joan II of Navarre, the genealogically senior granddaughter of Joan I of Navarre. Philip ceded Navarre to Joan II, but regarding the counties in Champagne, they struck a deal: Joan II received vast lands in Normandy (adjacent to her husband's fief in Evreux) in compensation, and Philip got to keep Champagne as part of the Royal Domain.


Philip VI and his first wife, Jeanne of Burgundy

Philip's reign was punctuated with crises. It began with military success in Flanders at the Battle of Cassel (August 1328), where Philip's forces reseated Louis I of Flanders, who had been unseated by a popular revolution. The able Jeanne gave the first of many demonstrations of her competence as regent in his absence.

Philip initially enjoyed relatively amicable relations with Edward III, and they planned a crusade together in 1332, which was never executed. However, the status of the Duchy of Aquitaine remained a sore point, and tension increased. Philip provided refuge for David II of Scotland in 1334 and declared himself champion of his interests, which enraged Edward. By 1336, they were enemies, although not yet openly at war.

Philip successfully prevented an arrangement between the papacy in Avignon and Emperor Louis IV although, in July 1337, Louis concluded an alliance with Edward III.

The final breach with England came when Edward offered refuge to Robert III of Artois, formerly one of Philip's trusted advisers. However, after he committed forgery to try to obtain an inheritance, he barely escaped France with his life, and was hounded by Philip throughout Europe. Edward made him Earl of Richmond and honored him; in retaliation, Philip declared on 24 May 1337 that Edward had forfeited Aquitaine for rebellion and disobedience. Thus began the Hundred Years' War.


Hundred Years' War

French Monarchy
Capetian Dynasty
(House of Valois)
France Ancient.svg

Philip VI
   John II
John II
   Charles V
   Louis I of Anjou
   John, Duke of Berry
   Philip the Bold
Charles V
   Charles VI
   Louis, Duke of Orléans
Charles VI
   Isabella of Valois
   Michelle of Valois
   Catherine of Valois
   Charles VII
Charles VII
   Louis XI
   Charles, Duke of Berry
Louis XI
   Charles VIII
Charles VIII

Philip entered the Hundred Years' War in a position of comparative strength. France was richer and more populous than England, and was then in the height of her medieval glory. The opening stages of the war, accordingly, were largely successful for the French.

At sea, French privateers raided and burned towns and shipping all along the southern and southeastern coasts of England. The English made some retaliatory raids, including the burning of a fleet in the harbor of Boulogne-sur-Mer, but the French largely had the upper hand. With his sea power established, Philip gave orders in 1339 to prepare an invasion of England, and began assembling a fleet off the Zeeland coast at Sluys. However, in June 1340, in the bitterly-fought Battle of Sluys ("l'Ecluse"), the English attacked the port and captured or destroyed the ships there, ending the threat of an invasion.

On land, Edward III largely concentrated upon Flanders and the Low Countries, where he had gained allies by diplomacy and bribery. A raid in 1339 (the first chevauchée) into Picardy ended ignominiously when Philip wisely refused to give battle. Edward's slender finances would not permit him to play a waiting game, and he was forced to withdraw into Flanders and return to England to raise more money. In July 1340, Edward returned and besieged Tournai; again, Philip brought up a relieving army which harassed the besiegers but did not offer open battle, and Edward was again forced to return home, fleeing the Low Countries secretly to escape his creditors.

So far, the war had gone quite well for Philip and the French. While often stereotyped as chivalry-besotten blockheads, Philip and his men had in fact carried out a successful Fabian strategy against the debt-plagued Edward, and resisted the chivalric blandishments of single combat or a combat of two hundred knights that he offered. In 1341, the War of the Breton Succession allowed the English to place permanent garrisons in Brittany. However, Philip was still in a commanding position: during Papally-arbitrated negotiations in 1343, he refused Edward's offer to end the war in exchange for the Duchy of Aquitaine in full sovereignty.

The next attack came in 1345, when the Earl of Derby overran the Agenais (lost twenty years before in the War of Saint-Sardos) and took Angoulême, while the forces in Brittany under Sir Thomas Dagworth also made gains. The French responded in the spring of 1346 with a massive counter-attack against Aquitaine, where an army under John, Duke of Normandy besieged Derby at Aiguillon. On the advice of Godfrey Harcourt (like Robert III of Artois, a banished French nobleman), Edward sailed for Normandy instead of Aquitaine. As Harcourt predicted, the Normans were ill-prepared for war, and many of the fighting men were at Aiguillon. Edward sacked and burned the country as he went, taking Caen and advancing as far as Poissy before retreating before the army Philip hastily assembled at Paris. Slipping across the Somme, Edward drew up to give battle at Crécy.

Close behind him, Philip had planned to halt for the night and reconnoiter the English position before giving battle the next day. However, his troops were disorderly and not to be handled: the roads were jammed by the rear of the army coming up, and by the local peasantry furiously calling for vengeance on the English. Finding them hopeless to control, he ordered a general attack as evening fell. Thus began the Battle of Crécy; and when it was done, the French army had been well-nigh annihilated, and Philip barely escaped capture. Fortune had turned against the French.

The English seized and held the advantage. Normandy called off the siege of Aiguillon and retreated northward, while Sir Thomas Dagworth captured Charles of Blois in Brittany. The English army pulled back from Crécy to besiege Calais; the town held out stubbornly, but the English were determined, and easily supplied across the English Channel. Philip led out a relieving army in July 1347, but unlike the siege of Tournai, it was now Edward who had the upper hand. With the plunder of his Norman expedition and the reforms of his tax system he had executed, he could hold to his siege lines and await an attack Philip dare not deliver. It was Philip who marched away in August, and the city capitulated shortly thereafter.

Final years

After the defeat at Crécy and loss of Calais, the Estates refused to raise money for Philip, halting his plans to counter-attack by invading England. In 1348, a new woe struck France: the Black Death, which in the next few years killed one-third of the population, including Queen Joan. The resulting labor shortage caused inflation to soar, and the king attempted to fix prices, further de-stabilizing the country. His last major achievement was the purchase of the Dauphiné and the territory of Montpellier in the Languedoc, in 1349. At his death in 1350, France was still very much a divided country filled with social unrest.

Marriages and Children

Philip VI of France

In July, 1313, Philip married Joan the Lame (French: Jeanne), daughter of Robert II, Duke of Burgundy, and princess Agnes of France, the youngest daughter of Louis IX. In an ironic twist to his "male" ascendancy to the throne, the intelligent, strong-willed Joan, an able regent of France during the King's long military campaigns, was said to be the brains behind the throne and the real ruler of France.

Their children were:

  • John II (26 April 1319 – 8 April 1364)
  • Marie (1326–1333), who married John of Brabant, the son and heir of John III, Duke of Brabant, but died shortly afterwards.
  • Louis (17 January 1328 – 17 January 1328)
  • Louis (8 June 1330 – 23 June 1330)
  • Jean (1333–1333)
  • Philip of Valois (1336–1375), Duke of Orleans
  • Jeanne (1337–1337)

After Joan died in 1348, Philip married Blanche d'Évreux, princess of Navarre, daughter of the queen regnant Joan II of Navarre, on 11 January 1350. They had one daughter: Joan (1351–1371), who was intended to marry John I of Aragon, but who died upon the journey.

Philip VI died at Nogent-le-Roi, Eure-et-Loir on 22 August 1350 and is interred with his second wife, Blanche d'Évreux in Saint Denis Basilica. He was succeeded by his first son by Joan of Burgundy, who became John II.



  1. ^ Heraldique-Europeenne
  2. ^ Curry, Anne (2003). The Hundred Years' War. New York: Rutledge. pp. 18. ISBN 0-415-96863-1.  


Seward, Desmond (1999). The Hundred Years War. Penguin Books. ISBN 014.02-8361-7.  

Philip VI of France
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Born: 1293 Died: 22 August 1350
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Charles IV
King of France
1 February/1 April 1328 – 22 August 1350
Succeeded by
John II
French royalty
Preceded by
Charles, Count of Valois
Heir to the Throne
as Heir presumptive
16 December 1325 — 29 May 1328
Succeeded by
John, Duke of Normandy
French nobility
Preceded by
Marguerite of Anjou and Maine
Count of Anjou and Maine
(as 'Philip I')

31 December 1299–1 April 1328
Succeeded by
Merged into crown
(eventually John II of France)
Preceded by
Charles I
Count of Valois
(as 'Philip I')

16 December 1325–1 April 1328
Succeeded by
Merged into the crown
(eventually Philip II)


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