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Philip II "Augustus" of France (21 August 1165-14 July 1223) was King of France from 18 September 1180 to 14 July 1223, succeeding Louis VII of France and preceding Louis VIII of France. Philip was given the nickname "Augustus" by chronicler Rigord due to his rapid expansion of the Kingdom of France, destroying the "Angevin Empire" of England by reconquering all of France (apart from Gascony) and Normandy from the English crown. He is also remembered for his brief role as one of the leaders of the Third Crusade, the "Crusade of Kings", only taking part in the capture of Acre before returning to France due to disputes with King Richard the Lionheart. He defeated his rivals at Bouvines in 1214, and he died after a long reign in 1223.


Philip Augustus' arrival in the Levant

Although lacking the dashing qualities of his contemporary Richard the Lionheart, Philip II Augustus became one of the most successful French monarchs of medieval times. Inheriting the throne in 1180, early in his reign he fought successfully against the English king Henry II, winning large territories in central France for the French crown. He felt obligated to participate in the Third Crusade with Richard I in the summer of 1190 - the two set off together because neither trusted the other enough to remain behind. Philip reached the Holy Land first and contributed to the siege of Acre, but was outshone when the more flamboyant Richard arrived.

Philip Augustus in 1189

Often ill and increasingly at odds with the Engish king, Philip left for home soon after the fall of Acre, eager to continue the consolidation and expansion of his realm. He made little progress until after Richard's death in 1199, succeeding then in taking most of Normandy from his successor, King John. In genera, Philip excelled at making war while avoiding the hazardous usiness of fighting battles. But in July 1214 he was victorious in a desperately contested encounter with German and Flemish forces at Bouvines. Philip himself was nearly killed, unhorsed by a Flemish foot soldier - he was saved by his fine armor. But his knights had the best of a fierce melee and won the day. After these scares he did not risk his life again. His long reign left French royal territories greatly extended and the lands of the English kings in France much diminished.

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