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 Pride of Rome and the Pride of France
Philip IV (The Fair) [1285-1314]

While Philip had been fighting with the Flemish, he had been fighting a different kind of war with the Pope. To get money for his wars, Philip had taxed his people very heavily. He wrung everything he could from the common people and from the nobles, and he tried to make the monks and priests pay still more, for they were the richest class in France.

Some of the Bishops refused to pay and asked the Pope for help. The Pope then wrote to Philip, forbidding him to lay any tax upon the clergy, without asking leave.

Philip replied by forbidding any one to send gold, or silver, or jewels out of France without his leave. This he knew would hurt the Pope, for the clergy of France paid him large sums every year.

Thus the quarrel began and went from bad to worse. Pope Boniface was a passionate, proud old man; Philip was just as proud, and he was cool and hard. The Pope was bent on showing that he was above all the kings in the world. Philip was bent on showing that he was not above the King of France.

"My power," said the Pope, "is over both things of the Church and things of the world."

"So be it," replied the French chancellor, "but your power is a thing of words. The King's is real."

The Pope at length sent to Philip a long letter, or Bull, as a letter from the Pope is called. It began: "Hearken, most dear son. God has placed me, though unworthy, over kings and kingdoms. Let no one then persuade you that you have no superior. For he who thinks so is a madman and a heretic."

The Bull went on among many other things to make a list of all the wicked deeds Philip had done. It made the King very angry. He caused part of it to be copied out and read to the people as well as his answer. It was very rude. It began "'Philip, by the grace of God King of the French, to Boniface, who calls himself Pope, little or no greeting. May your Supreme Foolishness know that we be subject to no man in things temporal: that the livings of churches belong to us by royal right; that we will support their possessions with all our power against your face and in your teeth."

The King also caused the Bull to be burned with solemn pomp in his presence. Then heralds were sent through all Paris to cry to every wind of heaven what he had done.

Immediately after this, Philip called a parliament together. He called people from the three estates; that is, from the nobles, the clergy, and from the common people. This was the first time that such a parliament had been called in France.

For many years meetings called parliaments had been held. But they were rather courts of justice. This meeting called by Philip was more like our Parliament, and because of the three estates that came to it is called the States-General.

All three estates wrote to the Pope telling him that they would no longer allow him to interfere. But the Pope did not care, and he ordered all the French Bishops to go to Rome to a council.

So the quarrel went on. At length Philip made up his mind to take the Pope prisoner. The Pope in fear fled to his native town, Anagni, where the people loved him. They greeted him with delight and, to show their love, they insulted the blue flag of France, dragging its golden lilies in the mud.

But one evening the quiet little town heard the tramp of armed feet, the clash of armor, and shouts of "Death to the Pope! Long live the King of France!" It was a band of Frenchmen led by William of Nogaret, the King's friend, and Sciarra Colonna, the Pope's deadly enemy.

The people of Anagni were so surprised and frightened that they could do nothing. But the Pope, old man though he was, was proud and brave. When he saw himself left alone and forsaken, his courage did not leave him.

"Betrayed like Christ," he said, "I shall die. But I shall die Pope."

So he dressed himself in his splendid robes, placed the triple crown upon his head, and, with the keys of St. Peter and the great pastoral cross in his hands, he awaited his enemies.

"Here is my neck," he said calmly. "Here is my head."

Colonna hated the Pope bitterly. With his steel-gloved hand he struck the old man in the face and would have killed him, but Nogaret prevented him. He took the Pope under his care. "See, caitiff Pope," he said, "the goodness of my lord of France who defendeth you by my hand."

The Pope was now a prisoner. He was not bound nor fettered with iron chains. But Nogaret kept him in his own room under his own eye.

It was one thing, however, to have taken the Pope prisoner in a little mountain town of Italy. It was another thing to carry him to France. When the Pope's friends saw how few the Frenchmen were they recovered from their first fear. Two days later new cries resounded through the streets. "Long live the Pope! Death to the strangers!"

The Pope was set free. Rejoicing, his friends brought him to the market-place to speak to the assembled people. With tears of joy running down his face and sobs choking his voice he tried to thank them. "Good people," he said, "ye have seen how my enemies have robbed me. Behold me standing here as poor as Job. I have neither food nor drink, and die of hunger."

Then the people carried him back to his palace, they crowded round him with offerings and words of comfort.

A few days later the Pope set out for Rome. But his spirit was crushed, his health shattered by all that he had gone through, and in a few days he died.

Almost at once a new Pope was chosen. He was the son of a simple shepherd and King Louis thought he could do with him as he would. But he found himself mistaken. In less than a year, however, this Pope died of poison. Some said that Nogaret had done this deed, some Colonna, some the King. It was never proved against any of them. But at least the King was not sorry when the Pope died. He plotted now so that a Pope should be chosen who would do his will, and a Frenchman named Bertrand de Goth was the man.

Philip sent for this man in secret. "Hearken," he said. "I can make you Pope if I please. I will do it if you promise me six things."

And to prove that he had the power he boasted of, Philip showed Bertrand letters from Rome. Having read these, Bertrand threw himself at the King's feet, promising to do all that was asked of him.

Philip then told five things he wished the Pope to do. "The sixth," he said, "I will keep to myself. But in due time you shall know it."

He then made Bertrand swear a solemn oath to fulfil this sixth thing as soon as it was asked of him. This Bertrand did, and six weeks later he was made Pope. But Philip, having chosen his Pope, wanted to rule him completely. So instead of letting him go to live in Rome, as all the Popes had done, he made him come to live in Avignon. For seventy years afterward all the Popes were Frenchmen, and they all lived at Avignon. This time has been called the Babylonish Captivity of the Popes, for so long as they lived in France they were little more than vassals of the French King.

The new Pope kept his promise. He did all the things Philip had asked of him, one being to make vile the memory of Pope Boniface. "Boniface was wrong," he said. All that Philip had done was right and good, and to the glory of the Church.

Philip soon let the Pope know the sixth thing. It was utterly to destroy the order of Knights Templar. This was an order of knights which had been founded after the first Crusade. At first they were very poor and called themselves "poor soldiers of Christ." They had a house near the Temple in Jerusalem and hence they received their name of Templars. They took vows like monks, but they lived the life of soldiers, fighting for the freedom of the Holy Sepulchre.

But although these soldier monks were at first poor, they soon grew rich and powerful. When the Crusade ceased they became idle and proud. And because of their pride and wealth they were hated and feared.

Philip was jealous of their wealth. He had already borrowed money from them. Now he made up his mind to destroy the order and take all its riches for himself.

Making believe that he wanted to plan a new Crusade, Philip asked the Grand Master of the Templars to come to visit him. Suspecting nothing, the Grand Master came.

At first he was treated with every honor. Then dark whispers began to be spread abroad of the terrible and unbelievable wickedness of the Templars. These whispers grew louder and louder until the King asked the Pope to look into the matter and find out the truth.

Then at once the Grand Master with all the Templars in France were seized and thrown into prison. They were then brought before the Inquisition for trial. There they suffered terrible things. Those who confessed to a wicked life were put to death as a punishment. Those who would not confess were tortured until they did confess. They confessed to anything rather than endure further tortures. But confession did not serve them. They were condemned to death, often in the end denying again those things to which they had confessed by reason of pain and fear.

For four years the cruel work went on. The knights were condemned to death and burned by tens and fifties at a time, and all the great wealth of which they were possessed was seized by Philip. Last of all the Grand Master was led to the stake. It was said that as he died he called upon the Pope and Philip to meet him before the judgement seat of God ere the year was gone. And when, within a month, the Pope died of a dreadful disease, and seven months later Philip died from a hunting accident, the people saw in it the judgement of God, and looked upon the Templars as martyrs, as they had long looked upon the King as a tyrant.

[Editor's Note: This is misleading. The Knight's Templar's were a malevolent secret society, and were unpopular in France. They had acquired much of their wealth through deceit and usury. All records of the Church council at which the order was suppressed have been "lost." It is likely that Pope Clement, Philip IV, and all of the king's sons were murdered in revenge for suppressing the order.]