Philip II (1165-1223)

Philip Augustus of France

King of France from 1180 to 1223

Philip II Augustus was one of the most successful medieval French monarchs. He tripled the size of what later became France, greatly reduced England’s French possessions and expanded the influence of the monarchy. He broke up the great Angevin Empire and defeated a coalition of his rivals (German, Flemish and English) at the Battle of Bouvines in 1214. He reorganized the government, bringing financial stability to the country and thus making possible a sharp increase in prosperity.

Philip made Paris his “chief residence,” which became the capital of France. He fortified Paris and patronized the University, which soon developed into a leading center of scholarship at this time. By taking possession of the English lands North of the Loire, he added considerably to both the territorial size and to the population of France. This included access to the sea.

Philip II would play a significant role in one of the greatest centuries of innovation in construction and in education. With Paris as his capital, he had the main thoroughfares paved, built a central market, Les Halles, continued the construction begun in 1163 of the Gothic Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral, constructed the Louvre as a fortress and gave a charter to the University of Paris in 1200. Under his guidance, Paris became the first city of teachers the medieval world had known.

Philip II Augustus died July 14, 1223, at Mantes and was interred in Saint Denis Basilica. Philip’s son by Isabelle de Hainaut, Louis VIII the Lion, was his successor.

Isabella of Hainault

 Isabella of Hainaut was born April 5, 1170 in Valenciennes. Her parents were Baldwin V, Count of Hainaut and Margaret I, Countess of Flanders. Her uncle, Philip, Count of Flanders arranged the marriage between King Philip II of France and Isabella. They were married on April 28, 1180 at Bapaume.

The marriage was unhappy as King Philip was annoyed that the young Isabella had not provided him with an heir. He tried repudiating her in 1184 based on her lack of children and her father’s scheming in the kingdom. Isabella appeared barefoot and dressed as a penitent in the town of Sens. This captivated the people of Sens and they gave her sympathy and love. The marriage continued on.

Isabella finally gave birth to an heir on September 5, 1187. He was the future King Louis VIII of France. Her secondary pregnancy was diffiult. Isabella gave birth to twin boys named Robert and Philip, but she died a day later on March 15, 1190 due to complications with the births. She was only 20 years old at her death. Isabella of Hainault is buried in the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.

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