Feudal France (Between 987 and 1108) – The Organization of the Feudal Monarchy Part V

According to EZINERELIGION, the papacy occupied an important place in the meditations of French politicians and treatise writers of the turn of the century. The desire to take over the leadership of European political society was combined with the desire to have the papacy in favor and ally in order to be able to freely dispose of the forces of the Church. The efforts of the monarchy to achieve this result are evident in the great conflict that took place, in various phases, between 1296 and 1303, between the king of France and Pope Boniface VIII (see boniface viii; philip iv).

The conflict ended, after the attack of Anagni (7 September 1303) and the death of the pope, with the full victory of Philip the Fair: the new Pope Benedict XI hastened to cancel every measure taken by his predecessor against the king of France, while making reservations for the perpetrators of the Anagni attack. Clement V, French, elected in the new conclave of 1304-1305, resigned himself to undergoing the most serious humiliation of the Roman papacy: to consent to the beginning of a trial against Boniface VIII and to the withdrawal of all the excommunications launched by Boniface VIII as well as by Benedict XI against France and the French. Thus the French monarchy had won over the absolute power of the pope, against whom neither Henry IV nor Frederick II could prevail. The inevitable consequence of the victory of France was the necessity in which Clement V found himself to suffer all the impositions of Philip the Fair. The papacy remained from then on on French soil, ready to serve the interests of the monarchy; the French element became predominant in the cardinal’s body; the pope, the bishops and the whole organization of the Church had to act in the great process that the government of Philip IV in 1307 decided to bring against the powerful and rich order of the Templars (v.).

In this regard, it is important to highlight the violent system used by Philip IV’s advisers in such serious affairs. It is evident that the French government obeyed the conviction that the rights of the monarchy were superior to any moral and religious principle, to any juridical and historical tradition. The Jews were not treated differently, who in 1306 were arrested throughout the kingdom in order to confiscate their possessions, the Lombard bankers who were arrested in 1320 and their assets confiscated. The monarchy easily crossed the limits of the honest and the just, claiming to have no limits in rights. A legist of the previous era had already recognized the fullness of the legislative power to the king of France. Nor is this affirmed for superior, divine rights, nor simply in view of the

The reign of Philip the Fair sees the decline of the feudal principle and the beginning of the absolute monarchy. The French church, which had already been domesticated, was forced to obey the king against the Templars and against the Holy See, to submit to all the burden of royal taxation even though in theory the government affirmed itself as the defender and protector of freedom and of ecclesiastical assets. Even the nobility found themselves compressed and gagged: the monarchy had the possibility of affirming itself only by destroying the feudal institutions. Philip IV takes up and reconfirms the prohibition of private wars, tournaments, and even the carrying of weapons. The obligations of military service and royal taxes are imposed with rigidity justified by the need for the defense of the kingdom. At the end of the century XIII the king used to convene assemblies of nobles and ecclesiastics to get their approval. Perhaps already in 1289-90 there were also convocations for the representatives of the municipalities; certainly this happened in 1302-1303 for the fight with the pope and then in 1307 for the Templar affair. These were the first assemblies later called States-General: not consultative and much less legislative assemblies, but also convocations to more comfortably call the new taxes that the monarchy believed to be urgent (see below: Law). Discontent and agitation manifested themselves in the new social classes for this violent direction that the government had taken. There were also leagues of nobles and a federation of leagues to force the king to surrender on the claimed taxes and under the successors of Philip IV, the three sons who succeeded him in a few years,

In 1328 the life of France had an interruption that apparently concerned only the dynasty, but which actually deeply affected the country. A new dynasty comes to power; immediately afterwards a great political crisis opens with the renewal of the war against the English. The future of France is at stake, all social classes are suffering the consequences of the great struggle and the France that emerges from the Hundred Years War will no longer have anything of the old France of Philip the Fair.

Feudal France (Between 987 and 1108) 5

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