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The conflict between Philip le Bel and Pope Bonifacio VIII

Vue de la ville basse de Villeneuve -Lès-Avignon, de la tour Philippe le bel et du palais des Papes

We can't talk about Fort Saint-André without mentioning Philippe le Bel, King of France from 1285 to 1314. He decided to build it to protect the kingdom of France from the Avignon uprisings, and to consolidate his power in the face of the Papacy, with whom he was in conflict.

The King of France and the Papacy

Philip the Fair

Of all the Capetian dynasties, it was under the reign of Philippe le Bel (1285-1314) that the kingdom of France reached the apogee of its medieval power.

It was marked by major changes in the way the kingdom functioned, as well as numerous conflicts with England, Flanders and the Papacy. It was the latter conflict that led to the construction of the fort. But what happened?

Philip le Bel was a pious king, who regularly referred to himself as "very Christian": a religious notion that tended to become a legal one, authorizing the sovereign, in direct relationship with the kingdom of God, to intervene in the affairs of the Church, which Philip le Bel did not fail to do!

The king opposed papal interference in French affairs. This brought him into conflict with Pope Boniface VIII.

Portrait du roi Philippe le Bel
Portrait du roi Philippe le Bel

© reproduction Hervé Lewandoski / CMN

Conflict with the papacy

Pope Bonifacio VIII insisted on preserving the principle of the pope's pre-eminence over kings, of spiritual power over temporal power. He opposed the royal will on a number of issues, such as the creation of a tax, called the decime, which the sovereign wanted to levy on churches without the pope's authorization; but also the possibility for the king to judge a bishop in the event of treason... Conflicts abounded, and the king gradually won the support of the French bishops.

In 1302, the Pope declared the pontifical power as universal sovereignty. In 1303, threats were made. Thanks to the support of the French bishops, and after an unprecedented propaganda campaign throughout the kingdom, the king attacked Boniface VIII himself. Against him, he called for a future council . The king sent a professor of law, Nogaret, and four sergeants to Italy.

The pope finally gave in and died shortly afterwards. Never again would a Roman pontiff dare to call himself the judge of kings.

In 1309, Philip le Bel had a French pope, Clement V, elected and installed in Avignon.

portrait de profil du pape Bonifacio VIII
Portrait du pape Bonifacio VIII

© bibliothéque Sainte-Geneviève

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