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Philip III
King of France
Reign 17th February, 1229 - 2nd December, 1258
Predecessor Louis VIII
Successor Catherine I
Born 5th June, 1220
Paris, France
Died 2nd December, 1258
Chartres, France
Spouse Avita of Savoy

Eleanor of Provence

Issue Catherine I
House Capet
Father Louis VIII
Mother Joan of Champagne

Nine years old when his father died, Philip III, Philip the Leopard, ruled over an outwardly confident France during the early part of the 13th century.

His minority was dominated by his mother Joan of Champagne, who by all accounts was a mediocre regent stirring up the only-recently quelled peasantry with excessive demands for taxation. She was quickly side-lined and Henry of Dreux, the Archbishop of Reims, would oversee the remainder of Philip's minority.

Under Henry of Dreux's tutelage he was given a religious outlook and the success of Emperor Frederick II's crusade instilled a zeal to achieve a similar feat in the young king, and as soon as he came of age Philip organised a crusade. The timing was apt; Anglia was in a long drawn out war with Scotland (Long Scottish War), the Holy Roman Empire busy with wars in Italia, Aragon busy making amends with the papacy over the Cathar problem. With a large cohort of French, Norman, Saxon, Breton and Leonese knights Philip chartered a navy. Raiding ports along Africa's Northern coast the force would arrive in Cyprus in Autumn 1238 where news of the current situation in the Levant could be heard and battle plans arranged.

Whilst Jerusalem and Antioch were more or less stable thanks to efforts of Frederick II's Sixth Crusade there were other targets. What was left of the Byzantine Empire was being eaten by the Bulgarians and the Seljuk Turks. The Kingdom of Armenian Cilicia to the north of Cyprus was in chaos thanks to a series of succession crises stirred up by the neighbouring crusader kingdom of Antioch and barely holding out against the Seljuks. Philip's forces landed in March of 1239, made short work of the various claimants of the crown and elevated Princess Euphemie to Queen, then quickly married her off to the illegitimate Leonese prince Rodrigo Alfonso. Handed a kingdom and an exotically beautiful wife, Rodrigo quickly agreed to be baptised into the Armenian church. Alongside the forces of Antioch a campaign against the Seljuks was initiated which brought several castles and the large city of Nakita into Cilician ownership, at least temporarily. This swift success surprised many and Philip, flattered by Bohemond of Antioch into believing he was a truly gifted commander, would march on Damascus. The attack failed but he still came away with a number of high-profile hostages which were sold back to the Ayyubids at an extortionate price.

Returning to Europe triumphant, it appeared that France was once again in the ascendancy. Philip swiftly began plans to capitalise on this and sought to restamp France's authority over Francia's erstwhile provinces. Artesië to the north was a prime target; its lords had gotten away with decades of dividing their loyalties between France and Anglian Flanders as it suited them. Philip understandably wished to firmly place the county back under his control and push back the Anglians, perhaps as a first step in seizing Flanders again. Therefore in 1241 Philip invaded at the 'behest of loyal lords', supposedly complaining about abuses by Flemish officials. A hasty response was arranged by the 27 year-old king of Anglia, John I and the two armies clashed at the Battle of Vignacourt on 1st July 1241. John was cut down and killed in the heat of the battle. This was a tragedy on two levels; Philip was deeply penitent about the death of John and would spend the rest of his life praying for his fellow king's soul, secondly it meant John's brother Conrad, Count of Hainault, succeeded to the throne, expanding the Anglian realm and links to the Empire in one swoop.

French forces were soon pushed out of Artesië and Philip's planned grand war tour abruptly came to a halt. Conrad would continue to frustrate Philip's attempts to pull North-Eastern Francia back into Paris' sphere of influence.

Much of Philip's later reign would be geared toward ensuring the succession of his sole heir, a daughter; Catherine. Throughout the 1250s, oaths were dragged out of his nobles one by one to swear allegiance to her and her husband Robert of Orleans, lest a male heir was not born. Catherine would indeed inherit France when Philip died in 1258. By and large his nobles did honour their promises though many of the other Francian states were less beholden to the new queen and used the succession as an excuse to renege on treaties and restart feuds which Philip had worked so hard to end.

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