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Philippe le Bel ('the Fair') is the king of France, the fourth of his name. A towering man with long, blond hair and almost unnatural beauty (which gives his nickname), he is taken as the archetypal physical representation of a king. He has ruled for ten years, coming to throne in place of his father, Philippe le Hardi ('the Bold'), in 1285. Ably advised by the Maison du Roi and his politically savvy queen, Jeanne, King Philippe is becoming increasingly headstrong with age and harbours ambitions to expand French influence across Christendom. This burgeoning hawkish outlook is at odds with some of the more senior figures in his government, who would prefer greater emphasis upon diplomacy.

In particular, Philippe sees the Church and especially the Order of the Knights Templar as dangerous influences within the French kingdom, and France is in great debt to the latter. To the north, France's historical enemy of England poses threats to his desired hegemony. Having annexed the English province of Aquitaine, Philippe demands the English king Edward (who is also Duke of Aquitaine) pay him fealty, knowing full well that Edward would refuse.

Philippe's is the older brother of Comte Charles de Valois.