Philip VI of France

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Philip VI of Valois (French: Philippe VI de Valois; 1293August 22, 1350) was the King of France from 1328 to his death. He was the son of Charles of Valois and founded the Valois Dynasty.

Ascension to the Throne

In 1328, King Charles IV of France died without a direct male descendant, however leaving his wife pregnant. Philippe was one of the two chief claimants to the throne, along with King Edward III of England whose mother, Isabella of France, was the late King Charles' sister. Philippe ascended to the crown by applying Salic law, which forbade females and those descended in the female line to succeed to the throne. After the queen, Jeanne d'Evreux, gave birth to a girl, Philip was crowned on May 27, 1328 at the Cathedral in Reims.

Philip VI was not a heir nor a descendant of Joan I of Navarre, whose inheritance (the kingdom of Navarre, as well as the counties of Champagne, Troyes, Meaux and Brie) had been in personal union with the crown of France almost fifty years at that time, and already long administered by the same royal machinery (established by Philip IV, the father of French bureaucracy), which resource was inherited by Philip VI. Particularly these counties were at that time already closely entrenched in the economic and administrative entity of the Royal Domain of France, being located adjacent to Ile-de-France. Philip was however not at all entitled to that inheritance: the rightful heiress was Louis X's surviving daughter, the future Joan II of Navarre, the eldest granddaughter of Joan I of Navarre. Philip ceded Navarre to Joan II, but regarding the counties in Champagne, they struck a deal: Joan II received vast lands in Normandy (adjacent to her husbands fief in Evreux) in compensation, and Philip got to keep Champagne as part of the Royal Domain.

Life

In July, 1313, Philippe had married Jeanne, (Joan the Lame), daughter of Robert II, Duke of Burgundy and princess Agnes of France, the youngest daughter of King Saint Louis of France. In an ironic twist to his "male" ascendancy to the throne, the intelligent, strong-willed Joan, an able regent of France during the long campaigns when the king was absent, was said to be the brains behind the throne and the real ruler of France.

Their children were:

After Joan died in 1348, Philippe VI married Blanche d'Evreux, princess of Navarre, daughter of the queen regnant Joan II of Navarre on January 11, 1350. They had one daughter: Jeanne (1351 - 1371).

King Philippe VI died at Nogent-le-Roi, Eure-et-Loir on August 22, 1350 and is interred with his wife, Blanche de Navarre (1330 - 1398) in Saint Denis Basilica. He was succeeded by the son of Jeanne of Burgundy, Jean II.

Reign

The reign of Philippe VI was punctuated with crises. The reign began with military success in Flanders, where Philip's forces reseated Charles de Nevers, Count of Flanders, who had been unseated by a popular revolution: the able Jeanne gave the first of many demonstrations of her competence as regent in his absence. Afterwards, Edward III, smarting from having to pay hommage for his Duchy of Guienne, claimed the throne, and with his landing on French soil in 1337 the Hundred Years War had begun. At the sea-battle of Sluys ("l'Ecluse") in 1340, the loss of an entire French fleet was a disaster, and again at Crcy in 1346 many of the French knights were struck down. Much more devastating, in 1348 the Black Death struck, which killed one-third of the entire population, including the Queen, within a few years. The resulting labor shortage caused inflation to soar, and the king attempted to fix prices, further de-stabilizing the country. Though the Dauphin and the territory of Montpellier in the Languedoc were added to France, on his death, France was still very much a divided country filled with social unrest.



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