King Philip VI of France

First Valois King

King Philip VI of France
Image of King Philip VI of France adapted from a 17th-century portrait by Nicolas de Larmessin, currently in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Public Domain

King Philip VI was also known as:

in French, Philippe de Valois

King Philip VI was known for:

Being the first French king of the Valois dynasty. His reign saw the beginning of the Hundred Years' War and the arrival of the Black Death.



Places of Residence and Influence:


Important Dates:

Born: 1293
Crowned: May 27, 1328
Died: , 1350

About King Philip VI:

Philip was a cousin to kings: Louis X, Philip V, and Charles IV were the last of the direct line of Capetian kings. When Charles IV died in 1328, Philip became regent until Charles' widow gave birth to what was expected to be the next king. The child was female and, Philip claimed, was therefore ineligible to rule under Salic Law. The only other male claimaint was England's Edward III, whose mother was the late king's sister and who, due to the same restrictions of Salic Law regarding females, was also barred from succession. So, in May of 1328, Philip of Valois became King Philip VI of France.

In August of that year, the count of Flanders appealed to Philip for help in putting down a revolt. The king responded by sending his knights to slaughter thousands at the Battle of Cassel. Not long after that, Robert of Artois, who had helped Philip secure the crown, claimed the countship of Artois; but a royal claimant did so, as well. Philip instituted judicial proceedings against Robert, turning his one-time supporter into a bitter enemy.

It wasn't until 1334 that trouble began with England. Edward III, who didn't particularly like paying homage to Philip for his holdings in France, decided to flout Philip's interpretation of Salic Law and lay claim to the French crown through his mother's line. (Edward was most likely spurred on in his animosity toward Philip by Robert of Artois.) In 1337 Edward landed on French soil, and what would later be known as the Hundred Years' War began.

In order to wage war Philip had to raise taxes, and in order to raise taxes he had to make concessions to the nobility, the clergy, and the bourgeoisie. This resulted in the rise of the estates and the beginning of a reform movement in the clergy. Philip also had difficulties with his council, many of whom were under the influence of the powerful Duke of Burgundy. The arrival of plague in 1348 pushed many of these problems to the background, but they were still there (along with the plague) when Philip died in 1350.

More King Philip VI Resources:

King Philip VI on the Web

Philip VI
Concise intro at Infoplease.
Philippe VI de Valois (1293-1349)
Very brief bio at the official website of France.

The Hundred Years' War

Chronological Index

Geographical Index

Index by Profession, Achievement, or Role in Society

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Snell, Melissa. "King Philip VI of France." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Snell, Melissa. (2020, August 26). King Philip VI of France. Retrieved from Snell, Melissa. "King Philip VI of France." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 26, 2023).