Philip Augustus

Philip Augustus

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Philip Augustus

Philip Augustus

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Excerpt

France at the beginning of the twelfth century was one of the smallest and least important of the European states. The duchy of France--a title borne for three centuries by the house of Robert the Strong--was no domain exactly bounded and compact. Its lands were situated not only in the country between the Seine and the Loire, but lay in small and scattered fragments farther south, in Poitou, and in the north. Peculiar rights belonged to the king in distant towns and churches. He was lord in Orleans. He was abbat of S. Martin's at Tours and senior canon of the church of S. Quentin. And step by step within the lands of the great lords of the north, of the great dukes and the great ecclesiastics, he acquired new rights, by intervening to check some injustice or win some privilege on behalf of a lesser lord.

The royal domain was the strength of the early Capets. As rich lords they could stand against the barons who hedged them in, and appear, unlike the Karlings, at least the equals of their great vassals. But the territory which they possessed was small . . .

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