Skip to main content

Philippe II of France, "God-given"?

1 November marked the anniversary of the coronation of the young Philippe Capet (b.1165) at Reims Cathedral in the presence of his brother-in-law*, Henry the Young King, who accompanied by his younger brothers, Richard and Geoffrey represented the House of Anjou in the absence of his father, Henry II of England. Here is a detailed account I wrote to commemorate the occasion three years ago as one of the first posts on this blog:

Reims and Lagny-sur-Marne. November 1179

“… William, Archbishop of Rheims, crowned … Philip, the son of his sister Ala who was now in the fifteenth year of his age, and anointed him king at Rheims, in the church there of the Pontifical See, on the day of the feast of All Saints, being assisted in the performance of that office by William, archbishop of Tours and the archbishops of Bourges and Sens, and nearly all the bishops of the kingdom. Henry, the king of England, the son, in the procession from the chamber to the cathedral on the day of the coronation, proceeded him, bearing the golden crown with which the said Philip was to be crowned, in right of the dukedom of Normandy.”

Henry the Young King, aged four and twenty, accompanied by his younger brothers, Richard, duke of Aquitaine and Geoffrey, duke of Brittany represented the House of Anjou at the coronation of his brother-in-law, Philip, later known as Augustus*. On All Saints’ Day, 1179, not yet fifteen-year-old Philip, following Capetian tradition, was anointed and crowned at the cathedral of Reims by the archbishop of Reims, William Whitehands [Guillaume aux Blanches Mains], his uncle. At the time of the ceremony, Philip’s father, Louis VII was yet alive, but “labouring under old age and a paralytic malady” unable to attend. Philip’s mother, Adela of Champagne was also absent, probably tending to her ailing husband...

And here's a great post about Philippe by Mr Richard Willis. Highly recommendable!

Les Rois de France: Philippe II

"Every sobriquet tells a story. Henry I was called “Beauclerc” for his scholarly interests (unusually for someone outside of the clergy, he could read Latin), Charles I was called Charles the Great (Charlemagne, as we know him today) because united much of Western Europe for the first time since the fall of Rome, and Frederick I was known as Barbarossa for his red beard.However, there was one sobriquet that was probably revered above all others. Taken as the honorific of Caius Octavius Thurinus (Caius Iulius Caesar Octavius, or Octavian) on his ascension as princeps (“the first” – he never called himself emperor, though he basically was one), the sobriquet of Augustus, “the revered one” (hence an august elder statesman), has not been conferred upon many other rulers throughout the years.Philippe II, king of the Franks (King of the French from 1190 on), was originally given the sobriquet due to his birth in the month of August. And yet, somewhat curiously, that fact has been forgotten – because Philippe himself accomplished enough to call himself revered. In 43 years on the throne – ruling alone for most of that period – he managed to triple the holdings of the French crown, most of it at the expense of his hated rivals, the Angevin kings of England..."

* Henry was the husband of Philippe's elder half-sister, Marguerite (1157/58-1197)


  1. I'm sure the Young King was truly superb at the tournament. The relief King Louis felt at Phillipe's birth must have been immeasurable!

    1. Indeed, given that Louis' fist marriage was anulled probably for that very reason and that his second wife too failed to give him a male heir, his relief must have been almost tangible :-)

  2. Love this post. I found it very moving that he was called Dieudonne by his father. And I love the story when he gets lost in the woods and he is very ill. The king his father goes to England to pray for Dieudonne's health. King Henry II accompanies King Louis to St. Thomas Beckett's shrine in Canterbury and does a vigil along with the french king, not because he is a king, but because he is a grieving father.

    1. Thank you, Daniella. Yes, this story tells us a great deal not only about the kings themselves, but also about their relationship.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The History of William Marshal on the War of 1183. Part I

The anniversary of Henry the Young King's untimely passing is fast approaching and though I have discussed the surrounding events many times here, on the blog, I have never focused solely on the version introduced by one John, the author of the History of William Marshal. If we are believe to him, this is what happened in the spring of 1183 and these are the roots of the conflict that broke out between the Angevins, the conflict in which brothers stood against each other, and sons stood against father (following the translation by Nigel Bryant):

'(...) the following Lent saw conflict between the three brothers. The Young King and his brother Count Geoffrey, lord of Brittany, angrily left their father, offended and enraged that their brother, the count of Poitiers, with their father's backing, had made so bold as to wage war on the highest nobles of that land and to treat them most unjustly. They'd complained to the Young King and declared that they would sooner serve hi…

Safe Passage to Heaven

Saturday, 11 June 1183. Martel. The spring in the valley of the Dordogne lazily drifts into summer. A young man, with a sapphire ring fervently pressed to his lips, lies dying in the house of Etienne Fabri’s. He finds himself far from his family, among ‘quite barbarous people’ in Gascony, with only a few faithful companions at his side. That young man happens to be the King of England’s son and heir. Contemporary chroniclers refer to him either as Young Henry, Henry the Younger, the Young King or Henry III. He does not know that since he is destined to predecease his father, his name will vanish somewhere in a dim and distant… future, almost utterly lost to posterity. Ironically, it is Henry’s untimely passing-the best documented moment of his life-that he is mainly remembered for. Additionally, the actions surrounding his death serve as an invaluable source of information concerning the rituals performed at the twelfth-century deathbed. From his example we can learn a lot about medie…

A Few Facts About Henry the Young King

Henry the Young King was the only king of England crowned in his father’s lifetime. In this his father, Henry II followed the continental tradition. The Capetian rulers had their heirs crowned during their reign in order to avoid even a momentary interregnum and disorder. Louis VI, for instance, still active monarch, had his son, also Louis, anointed in Rheims cathedral already in 1131. It was not until 1137 that Louis began his independent rule and only upon his father’s death. The same Louis had his only son, Philip crowned in 1179, a year before he himself died. Today I would like to introduce a few facts about Henry the Young King everyone should know.
- Henry (b. 28 February 1155) was not meant to be a king. The crown was to be inherited by his elder brother, William (b.17 August 1153). Unfortunately, at the age of three, William became seriously ill and died, the only child of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, who failed to reach maturity. Upon his untimely passing, Henry, the s…