The royal power was strengthened under Philip IV the Beautiful. He sought to expand his domain. The first marriage of Philip IV was married to Jeanne, the Queen of Navarre and the Countess de Champagne, thus joining these territories to France. The main purpose of Philip was to capture Geei and Gascony, still owned by England, and also to subordinate his power to the large county of Flanders.
The troops of Philip IV invaded Flanders, but in 1302 the militia of the Flanders of artisans and peasants caused an unexpected defeat to the knightly army of the French king at the Battle of Courret. According to contemporaries, the surviving French knights could not even eat from the experience of horror. Half a thousand gilded spurs, taken from the boots of the killed knights, were hung in the local cathedral as a token of victory, so the Battle of Courret was called the “battle of spurs.”
The French were forced to leave Flanders. However, subsequently, Philip IV managed
to establish power over Flanders through a marriage with Maria Brabant and to join several of her cities to her domain.
The war with Flanders forced Philip IV to carry out a series of reforms. The powers of the royal court and the Parisian parliament were expanded, and the foundations of the state tax system were laid. The army was also reformed: the mercenary army was replaced by the feudal militia, because Philip IV sought to create a battle-worthy army with strict discipline.
However, reforms and constant wars with vassals required a lot of money. Therefore, Philip IV was constantly looking for new ways of obtaining money, while showing great ingenuity. He resorted to the “spoilage” of the coin: a decrease in the content of valuable metal in it led to a depreciation of money. For this, Philip IV received the nickname “king-counterfeiter” in the people. Philip IV also borrowed money from Italian bankers, established a tax on priests, confiscated the property of interest-bearing Jews.
The king forbade the export from the kingdom to Rome, the money collected as a church tithe.
This evoked the protest of Pope Boniface VIII. Between Philip IV and the pope, an open conflict erupted. In 1302, in order to obtain the broad support of his subjects in confrontation with the Pope, Philip IV convened a meeting of representatives of the three classes of the clergy, the nobility and the inhabitants of the city. So in France was created the organ of estate representation General States.
In the French General States, all three estates were divided into chambers and sat separately. The Chamber of the First Estate – the Clergy – consisted of archbishops, bishops, abbots. Second-class chamber – The nobility was presented by middle and small feudal lords. The Dukes and Counts did not belong to any of the chambers: they appeared with the king at state meetings. Representatives of cities met in the third chamber. Each chamber had only one vote. The states did not become a permanent body. They were collected only on the initiative of the king. They did not limit the power of the king, but only gave his decisions a national character.
The states approved the decision according to which the church tithe was to remain in France, and obliged the king to defend the interests of the country in every possible way in disputes with the pope. Therefore, Philip IV emerged victorious from the conflict with the pope.
In 1307, Philip IV received from Pope Clement V consent to the elimination of the Order of the Knights Templar. As you know, in the XIII century. The Templars settled with permission of Louis IX in France. Owning innumerable riches, the order often credited the rulers. The Templars were considered treasurers of the church, and therefore their influence on politics was enormous. Philip IV, who owed much to the Order, did not want to have such an influential power in the country. On the other hand, he cherished the idea of appropriating the treasure of the Templars. By the order of Philip IV, most of the members of the order that were then in France were arrested. They were accused of heresy, witchcraft and covetousness. The investigation lasted seven years. After exhausting and cruel tortures, the Templars “recognized” their guilt. The Order was liquidated, and most of its property was transferred to the royal treasury.
The process of the Templars ended in March 1314 with the burning of the great master of the Order of Jacques de Mollet. Embraced by the flames, Jacques de Mollet cursed the pope and the king. He predicted that death would take Clement’s dad in 40 days, and the king in a year. “Prophecy” was fulfilled more quickly: the pope died in 33 days, and the king – in less than nine months. In the memory of his contemporaries Philip IV the Beautiful, grandson of Louis the Saint, remained a king with a beautiful appearance and a vile soul.