Beginning around 1250, the monarchs of France slowly rolled toward severe conflict with the Church of Rome; this culminated in 1300 with Pope Boniface being arrested by King Philip.

France, however, was a solidly Catholic country, so this conflict puzzles me. What was the root of conflict between the Kings of France and the Popes of Rome?

  • I changed it. George, let me know if that's wrong.
    – Ne Mo
    Jan 20, 2017 at 9:30

1 Answer 1


The root of conflict was the French monarchs' consolidation of their power, combined with Papal claims to French power.

The Roman church had a major interest in France dating back to its dealings with Clovis, Pepin, and Charlemagne. However, as the French monarchy became more assertive, the papacy sought to augment its own authority.

The inevitable conflict climaxed when Philip IV (r. 1285-1314) began to quarrel with Pope Boniface VIII over whether the king could tax the clergy without the pope’s consent. Boniface temporarily backed down because of additional pressure from Edward I of England on the issue, but bitterness over the conflict remained.

Philip and Boniface also argued over whether the clergy should be subject to trials in ordinary courts of law. Finally, Philip arrested Boniface in the famed "Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy", vividly demonstrating how powerful the French king had become. The Roman church, however, still maintained an important social status in France and wielded much influence.

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