This Day in History: Philip the Not So Fair

This Day in History: there was not a giveaway of a castle going on in 1314.  Well, considering the way politics worked, and considering the recent upheaval of Bannockburn in which many Scottish lords had lost their lands in England and many English nobles were losing their lands in Scotland--and somebody was going to get all those foreited lands and castles--there probably was.

Loyalty to a liege to be entered to win!  On the bright side, entering to win my giveaway is much easier--just leave a comment on the post.  Any comment will do, but hey, be creative.  Who's your favorite monarch?  Who's your favorite medieval madman?  What's your favorite era of history?

On the downside, I don't have a castle to give away--only a notebook with a photograph of one.  But it's a step closer than no castle at all, right?

This Day in History, speaking of lieges, in the year 1314, the world was likely still reeling from the Scots' stunning victory at Bannockburn the previous June, and adjusting to the changes that resulted, and today, on November 30, was waking up to learn that Philip IV of France, known as Philip the Fair, and sometimes as the Iron King, had died the previous day.

Philip the Fair, Philip IV of France, France, medieval history, this day in history
Philip began his reign as King of Navarre on August 16, 1284--to which the astute student of medieval history will of course immediately respond: But of course!  I see the connection!  One year, seven months, and three days before Alexander III of Scotland died on that dark and stormy night while rushing home to his new bride, who was--it's clear by his rush to get home to her!--far more fair than Philip.  Life that night was far less fair, but that's the subject of another post.

He became King of France a year and a bit later on October 5, 1285.

Really, apart from all this fairness, there is a connection, and Alexander's death most certainly impacted Philip's life, and reign.  In truth, a single blog post can barely scratch the surface of this topic--beginning with understanding the interweaving of connections, marriages, loyalties, and allegiances among the nobility.  There's a blog post or ten unto itself!

Let's start with Edward I of England (also known as Longshanks, also known as Hammer of the Scots--because apparently nobody in 1314 was satisfied with just one, or even two, monikers). Edward--purely as an interesting side note--was crowned king of England 3 days short of ten years to the day before Philip, on August 19, 1274.  Hm, there's that number three again!  Clearly there's a Da Vinci Code type secret going on here!  But I digress.  Edward's second wife was Philip's second sister (or, more accurately, his second half-sister--which means what mathematically?  Oh, never mind.)

The story that leads to their marriage is worthy of a novel in itself.  Edward's wife Eleonor of Castile died on November 28 (two days before this day in history, and one day before the day in history when Philip would die--which adds up to three days!  Clearly something is afoot.  But let's stick to the story of Edward and Margaret's marriage.)

Despite all his miserable conduct toward the Scots (whose side I very much take), Edward I has gone down in history as a man who deeply loved his wife, and a monarch who was faithful, no less, in an age where that wasn't common.  He was profoundly grief-stricken at Eleonor's death, but a king has his needs, and by that, obviously I'm referring to alliances and peace, and marriage to a princess of France was an excellent way to meet several needs.

His son, Edward II was betrothed to Blanche, the first half-sister of Philip the Fair.  But, stories of Blanche's fairness abounded throughout the land, such that Edward the Elder decided she was better off with him, nearly forty years her elder, than with his son, six years her junior.

So he sent his emissaries, and Philip the Fair agreed to trade his sister for a truce between the two countries and the province of Gascony.  Edward wanted a truce, anyway, so he could better focus on Scotland, and found Gascony a fair trade for fair Blanche.

Off went Edmund Crouchback, Edward's brother, to get the fair Blanche.  Well, it turns out Philip the Fair was perhaps not so fair after all. He went and promised Blanch to another bidder--Rudolph III of Hapsburg.  "Take my younger sister instead," he said.  (Well, to be fair, I wasn't there.  I'm paraphrasing.  Plus, he most likely said whatever he said in medieval French.)

Edward refused Margaret and, true to form, instead declared war on France.  So much for a truce.  One has to wonder just what Philip was thinking, to trade his sister for a truce and then renege on his agreement.  Of course, he was trading Blanche for a different truce--with Rudolph's father, Albert I of Germany.  (Can't we all just get along?  Apparently only if there are daughters and sisters to trade!)

I'd say long story short, but I think it's too late for that--five years later there was finally a truce.  In the end, neither father nor son got Blanche.  Edward agreed to marry Philip's sister Margaret, while Edward Junior got Philip's daughter, Isabella.

margaret of france, medieval history, bannockburn, hammer of the scots, loving marriage
The interesting upshot of this story is that, despite his rage and initial refusal to marry Margaret, and despite being 40 years older than she was, it seems that the couple ended up quite happy together, with Margaret becoming pregnant quite quickly, following Edward on his campaigns, and holding great sway over him.  He came to value her as a 'pearl of great price,' a woman renowned for her virtue, beauty, and piety.  She in turn, never married after his death, despite being only 26 at the time, saying that when he died, all men died to her.

Now, this really does all tie into Philip the Fair, wars, truces, treaties, alliances, and Scotland.  But I think we'll get to that tomorrow.  Just remember, kids, Edward's initial goal was to buy a truce with France, the better to fight Scotland with (at the risk of mixing in a fairy tale or two).  We'll see tomorrow just how well that worked out because, remember, kids--Philip the Fair wasn't always that fair.

See why it's so much easier just to leave a comment and get a picture of a castle (with a notebook attached, in which you can keep track of all these people and their alliances and backroom deals and so on!  You'll need to know this stuff if you ever sleep in this tower and wake up in the wrong century!)



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