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Philippe I (May 23, 1052 – July 29, 1108), called the Amorous, was King of the Franks from 1060 to 1108. His reign, like that of most of the early Capetians, was extraordinarily long for the time. The monarchy began a modest recovery from the low it reached in the reign of his father and he added to the royal demesne the Vexin and Bourges.

Early life

Philippe was born May 23, 1052 at Champagne-et-Fontaine, the son of King Henri I and his wife Anna Yaroslavana of Kiev, daughter of Yaroslav the Wise, Grand Prince of Kiev and Prince of Novgorod, and his second wife Ingegerd Olofsdotter of Sweden.

Unusual for the time in Western Europe, the name Philippe was of Greek origin, being bestowed upon him by his mother. Although he was crowned king at the age of seven, until age fourteen (1066) his mother acted as regent, the first queen of France (Franks) ever to do so. Baldwin V of Flanders also acted as co-regent.

Personal rule

Following the death of Baldwin VI of Flanders, Robert the Frisian seized Flanders. Baldwin’s widow, Richilda, requested aid from Philippe, who was defeated by Robert at the battle of Cassel in 1071.

Philippe first married Bertha of Holland in 1072. Bertha was the daughter of Count Floris I of Holland and Gertrude of Saxony. Bertha had six siblings and both of her parents came from large families. Her father ruled a territory vaguely described as “Friesland west of the Vlie”, which is where Bertha spent her childhood.

Although the marriage produced the necessary heir, Philippe fell in love with Bertrade de Montfort, the wife of Fulk IV, Count of Anjou.

He repudiated Bertha (claiming she was too fat) and married Bertrade on May 15, 1092. In 1094 following the synod of Autun, he was excommunicated by the papal representative, Hugh of Die, for the first time; after a long silence, Pope Urban II repeated the excommunication at the Council of Clermont in November 1095.

Several times the ban was lifted as Philippe promised to part with Bertrade, but he always returned to her; in 1104 Philippe made a public penance and must have kept his involvement with Bertrade discreet. In France, the king was opposed by Bishop Ivo of Chartres, a famous jurist.

Philippe appointed Alberic first Constable of France in 1060. A great part of his reign, like his father’s, was spent putting down revolts by his power-hungry vassals. In 1077, he made peace with William the Conqueror, King of the English and Duke of Normandy who gave up attempting the conquest of Brittany.

In 1082, Philippe I expanded his demesne with the annexation of the Vexin, in reprisal against Robert Curthose’s attack on William’s heir, William Rufus. Then in 1100, he took control of Bourges.

It was at the aforementioned Council of Clermont that the First Crusade was launched. Philippe at first did not personally support it because of his conflict with Pope Urban II. Philippe’s brother Hugh of Vermandois, however, was a major participant.

Death

Philippe died in the castle of Melun and was buried per his request at the monastery of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire – and not in St Denis among his forefathers. He was succeeded by his son, Louis VI, whose succession was, however, not uncontested.

Louis’s half-brother, Philippe, Count of Mantes, prevented him from reaching Rheims, and so Daimbert, Archbishop of Sens, crowned him in the cathedral of Orléans on August 3. Ralph the Green, Archbishop of Rheims, sent envoys to challenge the validity of the coronation and anointing, but to no avail.