Front Matter Gauls Defeat Romans Vercingetorix Saints of France Attila, Scourge of God Story of Clovis Sons of Clovis Mayors of the Palace Charles the Hammer Pepin the Short Charlemagne in Lombardy Defeat at Roncesvalles Emperor of the West Louis the Pious War of Three Brothers Louis the Stammerer Paris defies the Sea Kings Rollo the Viking Hugh Capet Becomes King Bishop Betrays the Duke Robert the Pious The Peace of God Harold Visits Duke William William Sails to England The Battle of Hastings Peter the Hermit First War of the Cross Louis the Fat and Laon King Fights his Vassal Second War of the Cross French Queen of England How Normandy Was Lost Albigenses War Battle of Bouvines Story of Hugh de La Marche Reign of St. Louis St. Louis's last Crusade Peter the Barber Knights vs. Weavers Pope vs. Philip the Fair Sons of Philip the Fair Philip VI vs. Flanders Battle and Plague King vs. Charles the Bad The Jacquerie Stephen Marcel Betrays Paris Charles V and du Guesclin Du Guesclin Fights for France The Madness of Charles VI The Battle of Agincourt The Maid of Orleans End of Hundred Years' War King vs. Charles the Bold Troubles of Duchess Mary Charles the Affable Knight Without Reproach Battle of the Spurs Francis I, Gentleman King King Taken Prisoner Duke of Guise Defends Metz Calais Returns to France The Riot of Amboise Huguenot and Catholic St. Bartholomew Massacre War of the Three Henries The Protestant King Edict of Nantes Reign of Favorites Taking of La Rochelle Power of the Cardinal-King Reign of Louis XIV The Man in the Iron Mask The Height of Power Edict of Nantes Revoked War of Spanish Succession

History of France - H. E. Marshall

The Story of Peter the Barber
Philip III (the Bold) [1270-1285]

Louis IX died in 1270 and was succeeded by his son Philip III, Le Hardi or the Bold. Philip had gone on the Crusade with his father, and after St. Louis's death he stayed about two months longer in Tunis. During that time two fierce battles were fought. Then at length a treaty was signed by which the Christians were allowed the freedom of their own religion, and the King of Tunis paid Philip a large sum of money.

By this time Prince Edward of England had come out to join the Crusade. He and his knights now set sail for Palestine, while Philip turned homeward.

It was a sad procession which reached France, for Philip brought with him no fewer than five biers. For besides his father, St. Louis, his brother John, his sister Isabella and her husband, and his own Queen, Isabella, had all died.

There was a great and splendid funeral for St. Louis, the King himself helping to carry his father's coffin to the Abbey of St. Denis. The great church was thronged with knights, nobles, and clergy, while the people crowded along the way mourning for their beloved King.

Philip III was twenty-five when he came to the throne, and how he came by his name of the Bold is hardly known. History does not tell us of any bold or brave deed he did.

Philip III was by no means a great King. He had been a good, obedient son. Now he showed himself a good man, but stupid and ignorant, and he allowed himself to be led by his favorites, by his wife, by his mother, by any and everybody.

It is during this reign that we find a French King for the first time making a favorite of a man of low degree. Philip's chief favorite was Peter de la Brosse, who had been barber to St. Louis. Philip loaded him with honors, gave him titles and lands and much money.

Peter ruled the King, and the great lords feared him because he made the King do everything he wished. They became humble before him and gave him rich presents. If they wished to speak to the King, it was Peter to whom they went.

Though the lords feared Peter they hated him too, for they could not forget that he was a man of low degree. But there was only one person whom Peter feared and hated. This was Marie of Brabant, Philip's young and beautiful Queen. He resolved to do her harm if possible.

Now Louis, Philip's eldest son, died suddenly. So Peter caused it to be whispered abroad that the Queen had poisoned him, for Louis was not her son, but the son of Philip's first wife, who had died during the Crusade. Peter sent a friend to Court who smiled meaningly, shook his head, and shrugged his shoulders as he spoke of the Prince's death as if he would say, "Oh! if I liked, I could tell you about that." So after a time the King really began to believe that the Queen had done this wicked thing.

The Queen was in great distress, but she had many friends. They persuaded Philip to consult a "wise woman" who knew both of things past and things to come. And this wise woman told the King not to believe the wicked things which were said about his wife, for that she was good and loyal both to himself and all dear to him.

When the King heard these words he thought to himself that he had in his Court and in his service men who were neither good nor loyal. The lords then hoped that Peter would be punished for the evil that he had tried to do. But for two years nothing happened.

Then one day a monk came to the King bringing with him a box full of letters. What was written in the letters no man knows. It is said, however, that they were written by Peter de la Brosse, and that he was therein proved a traitor to his King.

However that may be, Peter was seized and cast into prison, and the King sent for the barons to judge him. Right gladly they came, and when they had condemned him to death Peter was given over to the common hangman. And early one morning ere the sun was up he was hanged among the thieves and robbers. Many nobles followed him to the scaffold right glad to see the death of their enemy. But the common people of Paris were greatly troubled. Men and women crowded round to watch, scarcely believing it possible that one who had risen so high could fall so low.

Besides this barber who came to so unhappy an end, another commoner, the silversmith Ralph, rose to greatness. For Philip made him a noble. Never before had such a thing been known. Only through fighting had it been possible to win nobility. This showed that the idea that war was the only noble calling was passing away. It showed that the feudal system was coming to an end.

Philip reigned for fifteen years. He died in October, 1285, while returning from a disastrous war in Spain, by which he had tried and failed to win the throne of Aragon for his son Charles.