Philip II of France

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The Government of Philip Augustus (1991)

French Monarchs Series - Candidate for Addition


By John W. Baldwin (1929-2015)

Professor of History, Johns Hopkins University

‘The Government of Philip Augustus’ was published by the University of California Press in 1991.


As a partner in the publication and distribution of the English Monarchs series from the earliest days, The University of California Press has to be regarded as a custodian of quality monarchical political biographies. This is the first of two UC Press titles found for a French Monarch. See also the page for Louis XIII further on.


Phillip Augustus, as this king is better known, was the opposite number to Richard the Lionheart. Less well known is that he was the first monarch to call himself king of France. Just as the series from which we have briefly detoured commenced with Æthelstan, Philip Augustus would have been an appropriate starting point of a French Monarchs series - and what an opening.


One customer reviewing his purchase of this title on Amazon commented that although it is a thorough account of the government, as the title says, the character of Philip is not fully realised. However, as a political biography it would be of interest to English Monarchs readers: It is scholarly and meshes with the interests of the English monarch of the time. Research revealed that this work was swiftly translated into the French version of the same year.


Philip’s story is a remarkable one, not least of all for his military success, but mostly because his supervision of the transformation of France from a feudal state of middling importance into the most prosperous region of Europe. This is a remarkable recovery from the lacklustre reign of his father, Louis VII, an unimpressive monarch and an unimpressive individual.



To continue seeing a construction of what a French Monarchs series might have looked like had it continued with books from the English Monarchs publishers use the link at the top for Charles VII, or go back to Richard I to resume the journey of contemporary English Monarchs titles.

University of California

Paperback 1991

Welcome to the detour looking at a "French Monarchs" series