Philip IV, the Fair, the 11th king of France of the Oapetian line, born at Fontainebleau in 1268,'died there, Nov. 29, 1314. He succeeded his father, Philip the Bold, in October, 1285, and was crowned at Rheims, Jan. 6, 1286. The beginning of his reign was disturbed by the war with Aragon, begun in 1283, but this was speedily settled. He had long been meditating the invasion of Guienne, then held by Edward I. of England, when in 1293 a sort of piratical war waged between the sailors of the cinque ports and France gave him a pretext for summoning that monarch before the parliament of Paris. The English king, acknowledging the suzerainty of Philip, but detained by his contests with the Welsh and Scotch, sent his brother Edmund with full power of negotiation; and this credulous prince was so outwitted through a fictitious treaty, that the surrender of all the fortresses in Guienne was procured. Philip then charged Edward with contumacy for not appearing in person, and declared his fiefs confiscated. The latter formed an alliance with the German emperor, Adolphus of Nassau, and the count of Flanders. A truce was however agreed upon, by the terms of which the question of Guienne was referred to the decision of the pope.
In 1299-1300 Flanders, which had not been included in the treaty, was reduced, and its count enticed to Paris and imprisoned. Philip now engaged in a quarrel with Pope Boniface VIII., and in 1302 summoned a meeting of the states general. A rebellion broke out in Flanders, and in attempting to suppress it the French were defeated with terrible slaughter at Cour-trai, July 11, 1302. The next year Philip marched into the Flemish territory at the head of a large army, but was unable to effect anything; and about this time the expulsion of the French garrison from Bordeaux led to the restoration of Guienne to England (1303), and to a treaty of peace between the two crowns. In the mean while, his quarrel with the pope continuing, Philip summoned a meeting of the prelates and nobles, and accused Boniface of heresy, simony, sorcery, sensuality, and disbelief in the eucharist and in the immortality of the soul. An appeal to a general council was adopted. But Philip, trusting more to force than to pacific measures, sent into Italy Guillaume de Nogaret, who by the aid of the Colonnas made the pope prisoner; and although Boniface was released by a rising of the people, he shortly afterward died, probably from ill usage.
He was succeeded by Benedict XL, who did not live long, and in turn was succeeded by Clement V., a pontiff wholly in the French interest, who transferred the papal residence to Avignon. Philip now prosecuted his Flemish war, but with little success, and a treaty of peace was finally concluded in 1305, by which the independence of Flanders was partially recognized. Actuated, it is supposed, by want of money, which had previously led him to persecute the Jews and depreciate the coinage, Philip next resolved to suppress the order of the templars. Charges of heresy and unnatural crimes were brought against the body, and in October, 1307, all the knights of the order were arrested on the same night. Condemned by diocesan tribunals, numbers of them were burned, and others, who through fear of torture or death had confessed, were sentenced to minor punishments. To sanction the suppression of the order, the council of Vienne assembled in October, 131.1, and in the spring of 1312 the pope pronounced it dissolved, and its property was made over to the hospitallers, but the crown absorbed the greater portion of it.
In 1314 two leading officers of the templars, Guy of Auvergne and the grand master Jacques de Molay, were burned for recanting their confessions; and on this occasion, it is said, the grand master summoned the pope and the king to appear before the judgment seat of God, the former within 40 days, the latter within a year and a day. "Whether this summons was real or not, both sovereigns died within the stated periods. The last years of Philip's life were taken up with the collection of taxes, and prosecutions and executions for political offences. In 1313 the wives of his three sons were charged with adultery; one of them was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment, and one, Margaret of Burgundy, wife of his eldest son Louis, was strangled in prison, while the third was acquitted. Involved in new difficulties with the Flemings, he was obliged by an insurrection of his own people to make a compromise with them. His power was most despotic, and there was often much disaffection among the people in consequence of the enormous taxes and debasement of the coinage.