Died At Age: 57
Also Known As: Philip, the Fortunate
Born Country: France
Born in: France
Famous as: King of the Valois Dynasty
Emperors & Kings
Spouse/Ex-: Blanche of Navarre, Joan the Lame (m. 1313–1349), Queen of France (m. 1350–1350)
father: Charles, Count of Valois
mother: Countess of Anjou, Margaret
siblings: Charles II; Count of Alençon, Margaret of Valois; Countess of Blois
children: Duke of Orléans, Joan of France, John II of France, Philip
Died on: August 22, 1350
place of death: Nogent-le-Roi, France
Cause of Death: Plague
Who was Philip VI of France?
Philip VI of France was the first French king of the Valois dynasty who ruled from 1328 until his death. His accession to the throne was challenged by a succession dispute between him and his first cousin Charles IV’s nephew, Edward III of England. Although Philip succeeded to the throne, Edward pressed his claim to the French throne, resulting in the beginning of the Hundred Years' War in 1337. Philip's reign was afflicted with crises and he had no means to impose his monarchical power. His reign was marked by the development of the radical power of the estates. During his last years, the labor shortage caused inflation and Philip attempted to fix prices, eventually de-stabilizing his country even further. Philip's last major achievement was the procurement of the Dauphiné and Montpellier in the Languedoc. Philip died in 1350 and was immediately succeeded by his eldest son, John II, the Good.
Childhood & Early Life
Philip VI of France was born in 1293 to Charles, Count of Valois, whose elder brother was King Philip IV of France. His mother was Margaret, Countess of Anjou.
He had many siblings, including Isabelle de Valois; Charles 'le Magnanime' de Valois, baron de Châteauneuf; Jeanne de Valois, Countess of Hainault; and Catherine de Valois.
He also had many half-siblings, including Margaret de Brossard; Anne Valois; Jean de Valois, Comte de Chartres; Antoine Valois; and Catherine Ii de Valois-Courtenay.
In 1328, his first cousin Charles IV passed away without a male heir. As a result, Philip gained the right to access the throne along with Charles' nephew, King Edward III of England.
As Philip VI was Philip III’s eldest grandson, he became the regent rather than Edward, who was his great-grandson.
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Accession & Reign
Philip VI of France was crowned as the king on 29 May 1328. Although his reign was marked by numerous crises, it started with a triumph over Flanders at the Battle of Cassel.
He initially shared amicable relations with Edward III and even planned a campaign with him in 1332. However, he had become the latter’s enemy by 1336.
Philip also enraged Robert of Artois, one of his trusted advisers, who later committed forgery by trying to obtain an inheritance. Robert was supported by Edward and their alliance deteriorated the Anglo-French relations and led to the declaration of the Hundred Years’ War in 1337.
The Hundred Years' War
Philip VI of France faced the initial years of the Hundred Years' War with great strength. The opening stages of the war were successful for the French as France was wealthy and more populous than England.
In 1339, the king planned an invasion of England and eventually assembled his army off the Zeeland coast at Sluys. The following year, his army suffered a serious defeat in the naval Battle of Sluys. In the year 1340, Edward launched the Siege of Tournai that eventually ended with a truce.
By the mid-1340s, France’s condition was worsening and the English army, under the Earl of Derby and Sir Thomas Dagworth, was gaining the upper hand.
The French responded with a gigantic counter-attack against Aquitaine in 1346 where an army under Philip’s son John II besieged Derby at Aiguillon. The English eventually won, pushing the French kingdom to further despair.
After his defeat, Philip VI of France was forced to call a new meeting of the estates in 1347 and recast his council. However, his kingdom’s condition didn’t improve. The Black Death epidemic also struck around this time, killing almost one-third of the population, thus ruining the French kingdom even further.
His last major achievement was the procurement of the province of Dauphiné as well as the territory of Montpellier in 1349.
Philip VI of France died on 22 August 1350, at Coulombes Abbey, Eure-et-Loir. He was in his late 50s at the time of his death.
Following his death, France became a divided nation filled with social unrest. The king was succeeded by his eldest son, John II, the Good.
Family & Personal Life
Philip VI of France married Joan the Lame in July 1313. She was a daughter of Agnes of France and Robert II, Duke of Burgundy.
They had nine children, including John II, who succeeded Philip and died in 1364; Marie, who married John of Brabant but died shortly afterwards; and Philip, Duke of Orléans.
Following Joan the Lame’s death in 1349, Philip VI of France married Blanche of Navarre, daughter of Philip III of Navarre in 1350. They had a daughter named Joan who was born several months after Philip’s death. Joan, who was engaged to marry John I of Aragon, died before her marriage.