29 November 1314: Death of Philip IV of France
29 November 2014 marks the 700th anniversary of the death of Edward II’s father-in-law (and second cousin) King Philip IV of France. Philip was forty-six when he died, and had been king for twenty-nine years since the death of his father Philip III on 5 October 1285.
Philip was born sometime in 1268 as the second son of Philip of France and Isabel of Aragon. He was born in the reign of his grandfather Louis IX, who died on 25 August 1270, at which point Philip’s father acceded as Philip III, and also during the reign of his maternal grandfather, the Spanish king Jaime I of Aragon, who died in July 1276. Philip IV was the great-grandson of King Andras II of Hungary, and the great-great-great-great-great-
Philip had two younger brothers: Robert, born in 1269, who died as a child, and Charles of Valois, born in March 1270, father of the Valois dynasty which ruled France from 1328 to 1589. Their mother Isabel of Aragon was pregnant with her fifth child when she died in January 1271 following a fall from her horse, just five months after she became queen of France on the death of her father-in-law Louis IX. The poor woman must have been perpetually pregnant: Philip in 1268, Robert in 1269, Charles in March 1270, and pregnant again in January 1271. Queen Isabel’s widower Philip III married his second wife Marie of Brabant in 1274, and she was the mother of Philip IV’s half-siblings Louis, count of Evreux (b. 1276); Edward II’s stepmother Marguerite, queen of England (b. 1278/79); and Blanche, duchess of Austria (b. early 1280s?).
Philip IV had an older brother Louis, born in about 1264. This was something Philip had in common with his father Philip III, who was the second son of Louis IX and Marguerite of Provence and became the king’s heir when his elder brother Louis died in early 1260 when he was fifteen or sixteen. Louis the younger, eldest son of Philip III and Isabel of Aragon, died in 1276, aged about twelve; suspicions were raised that he was poisoned by his stepmother Marie of Brabant, whose son Louis (yet another Louis!) of Evreux was born that year.* This seems highly unlikely given that there were two other surviving brothers of Philip III’s first marriage, Philip IV and Charles of Valois.
* I know this is really confusing, so just to clarify: both Philip III and Philip IV had elder brothers called Louis, heirs to the throne of their fathers, who both died before they became king. Philip III had two sons called Louis, one who died in 1276 and one who was born that year (and died in 1319).
The future Philip IV, aged sixteen or almost, married Queen Joan I of Navarre on 16 August 1284, three days before the death of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile’s third son Alfonso of Bayonne, and they became king and queen of France the following year. They had seven children together, though only four survived childhood and only the date of birth of the eldest son is known: Louis X, born on 4 October 1289. Their other sons who survived childhood were Philip V, born in the early 1290s, and Charles IV, born in about 1293/94. Their only surviving daughter was Isabella, Edward II’s queen, probably born in 1295. Philip IV and Joan I’s three sons fathered at least eight daughters between them, but all their sons died young, and so the French throne passed in 1328 to Philip of Valois, son of Philip IV’s brother Charles of Valois. Philip IV’s only surviving grandson, Edward III (not counting Edward’s younger brother John of Eltham, who died in 1336), claimed the throne of France. Not quite what Philip had had in mind when he arranged the marriage of his daughter to Edward II.
Philip updated his will at Fontainebleau on 28 November 1314, the day before he died (Seymour Phillips, Edward II, p. 223). He left Isabella, carissime filie nostre regine Angliae, ‘our beloved daughter the queen of England’, two rings, one set with a ruby called ‘the cherry’ which she had previously given to him; she had not been bequeathed anything in his previous will of May 1311. Isabella was elsewhere named in the will as carissima Ysabella regina Angliae carissima filia nostra, ‘beloved Isabella, queen of England, our beloved daughter’. Edward II had heard of his father-in-law’s death by 15 December, on which day he ordered the archbishops of Canterbury and York, all the bishops and twenty-eight abbots to “celebrate exequies” for him. (Close Rolls 1313-18, p. 204.) Philip was only forty-six, and had three sons aged between twenty and twenty-five; neither he nor anyone else could have predicted that in less than fourteen years, all his sons would be dead with no male heirs and that the great Capetian dynasty would come to an end.