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Philip is a male forename. It is of considerable antiquity, and is derived from the Greek Φίλιππος‚ (Philippos), meaning "lover of horses". Notes on some bearers of the name may be of use to readers of AWE.

  • There have been several saints called Philip, of whom Saint Philip the Apostle is perhaps the most commonly mentioned - although not much is known about him. The gospels say he introduced Nathanael to Jesus, and a few words of his - no more. Acts tells of a separate Philip, since called the Deacon. He was one of seven chosen to help in the work of the church ("seven men of honest report", Acts 6,3): he preached in Samaria, among the enemies of the Jews (Acts ch 8). He is also known as Philip the Evangelist.
    • Another Philip in the Bible is the half-brother of King Herod II: "his brother Philip tetrarch [ruler] of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis" (Luke, 3:1). This may be a mis-reading: The Herod concerned, who ordered the execution of John the Baptist for the latter's preaching against the iniquity of his marriage, on the grounds of Herodias being the widow of his brother, may be another half-brother, Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great by his sixth wife, Malthace.

The current Prince Consort (the husband of Elizabeth II is Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh: he was born into the Greek and Danish royal families; his father was exiled from Greece in 1922. There have been many kings called Philip, five of Macedon, six of France and five of Spain, amongst others. Of these, some have had more influence on European and British history than others. They are:

Kings of Macedon

Five kings of Macedon called Philip are recorded, of whom the most important is:

Philip II (of Macedon)

Philip II (382-336 BCE) ruled Macedon from 359 BCE until his assassination in 336. He was a brave soldier, who strengthened his country and conquered much territory for it. He created a powerful army, and made Macedon the strongest of the Greek states. He was the father, with his wife Olympias, of Alexander the Great, who inherited his desire for expansion; and, with his wife Philinna, Philip III, who succeeded Alexander, but only as a figurehead.

Tetrarch of Judaea


Philip 'the Tetrarch', son of Herod the Great (40-4 BCE) by his wife Cleopatra, was Tetrarch of Batanea, Trachonitis, and Auranitis. He built Caesarea Philippi. He married Herodias, who had divorced her first husband (and uncle), Herod, the son of Herod the Great, and so Philip's half-brother, and died in 34 CE.

There is some confusion over the naming of a Herod II, sometimes known as Herod Boethus or Herod Philip I (ca. 27 BC - 33 AD). There is much confusion over many biblical names of this era: see, for example, Kokkinos (1998).
Wikipedia says "Herod Philip may refer to two children of Herod the Great:
  • Herod Philip I, by Herod's third marriage, husband of Herodias
  • Herod Philip II, by Herod's sixth marriage, husband of Salome",
but this appears to be erroneous.

Kings of France

France has had six kings called Philip (or Philippe, in French). Of those, Philip III was nicknamed "the Bold", Philip IV was nicknamed "the Fair", Philip V "the Tall" and Philip VI "the Fortunate". The Duchy of Burgundy, which was absorbed fully into France in 1475, had three Duke Philips: Philip I (1346-1361), Duke from 1350 (when he was three) until his death - he inherited from his father Philip of Burgundy (1323-1346), Count of Auvergne and Boulogne, who was never Duke; Philip II, nicknamed "the Bold" and Philip III, "the Good". From Philip IV, the Duchy of Burgundy was a possession of the Kings of Castile (later Spain), and Philip IV of Burgundy coincides with Philip I of Castile, and so on down to Philip V (of Spain).

the following had significant interactions with the British Isles:

Philip II (of France)

Philip (Philippe in French) Augustus (1165-1223) was the ruler who recaptured most of the territory in France held by the English kings - the so-called Angevin Empire. He was contemporary with the brothers Richard the Lionheart and John. He went on the Third Crusade with Richard. They quarelled there, and when Richard was held hostage on his way home, Philip took advantage to recapture much territory. This was mostly lost again when Richard returned; but after the latter's death in 1199, John contrived to lose most of them, Anjou and Normandy by 1205, leaving only Gascony subject to the English crown. Agreat deal of the credit for the establishment of France as a dominant political state in Europe may be given to him.

Philip IV (of France)

Philip IV (1268-1314), 'the Fair' (Philippe le Bel in French) was the son of the less distinguished Philip III. He was firm and war-like; in his reign, the order of the Knights Templar was cruelly oppressed, largely so that his debts to it might be canceled. It was his daughter Isabella's marriage to the Prince of Wales who became Edward II that set up the dispute over the succession that was at the heart of the Hundred years War. He was also the king who persuaded Pope Clement V to move the papacy to Avignon, setting up the Avignon Papacy, which lasted from 1305 to 1378, and thus the Great (Western) Schism.

Philip VI (of France)

Philip VI (1293-1350), 'the Fortunate' (Philippe le Fortuné in French) and of Valois, was the King of France from 1328 to his death. He founded the royal Valois French dynasty . His inheritance was denied by Edward III of England, who asserted his own right through his mother, thus contributing to the start of the Hundred Years War. Philip's nickname seems ironic; he lost the battles of Sluys (1340) and Crécy (1346); his wars imposed ruinous taxes on the population; and the Black Death arrived in France. His fortune may have been the able regency of his wife, Joan the Lame in domestic affairs while he was occupied with campaigning.

Kings of Spain

Philip I (of Castile)

Philip (Felipe in Spanish) 'the Handsome' or 'the Fair' (1478-1506) was son of the Holy Roman emperor Maximilian I. the first Habsburg King of Castile. The son of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1496 Philip married Joanna, daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, thus establishing the Habsburgs as the ruling dynasty in Spain after their deaths. (He was also Philip IV of Burgundy.)

Philip II (of Spain)

Philip II (1527-98), son of the Emperor Charles V (Charles I of Spain), succeeded to the Spanish throne on his father's abdication (1556). He lived and reigned till 1598. Three times he had strong influence on English history: he married Mary Tudor in 1554, thus becoming King Consort with the title Philip of England; he was the King of Spain whose beard Francis Drake 'singed' in Cadiz harbour in 1587; he sent the Spanish Armada, which was destroyed in the English Channel in 1588. To offset his naval loss against England, he had success in the eastern Mediterranean, destroying most of the Turkish fleet at the Battle of Lepanto (1571). Philip was a staunch Counter-Reformation Catholic, who formed a Holy League (against the Turks) and a Catholic League, against French protestants and England. At home, he encouraged the Spanish Inquisition in the persecution of Moors and converted Jews. Under him, Spain reached her highest power; under him, the process of inflation began, caused by gold from the Spanish Empire in South America, which was to lead to an inexorable decline. (He was also Philip V of Burgundy; from 1581 he became, in addition, Philip I of Portugal, having defeated Antonio,the other claimant to the inheritance.) He was a great patron of the arts, and built the Escorial Palace and monastery. In his reign, the painter El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos; born in Crete) (1541-1614), writer Cervantes (1547-1616) (who fought at Lepanto) and dramatist Lope de Vega (1562-1635) flourished


  • Philippi (Φίλιπποι ('Philippoi') in Greek) is the name of a city founded in 356 BCE by Philip II of Macedon (above) in what is now NE Greece, near the Aegean coast. It is now abandoned, and a site for archaeology, although there is a successor municipality with the same name in modern Greece. It is famous for the victory of Mark Antony and Octavian over Brutus and Cassius, and their suicides in 42 BCE, the climax of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (1599).
The inhabitants are Philippians; it was to the Christian community in Philippi that Saint Paul addressed the [Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the] Philippians in the New Testament, perhaps in the winter of 54-55.
  • The town of Caesarea Philippi, also mentioned in the New Testament, was named in honour of Caesar by the Tetrarch Philip. It is so-called to distinguish it from another Caesarea, which was the capital of Palestine from about 13 BCE.
  • The 'Philippine Islands' are called after Philip II of Spain (above): they were first colonized in his reign (in 1565).
  • A Philippic is a scathing, bitter or vitriolic attack on someone, particularly a speech of denunciation. The word was originally applied to powerful speeches made by Demosthenes (384-322 BCE) attacking Philip II of Macedon: the First Philippic (351-350 BC), Second and Third Philippics (344-341 BC); and a Fourth Philippic, whose authenticity is disputed. The term was adopted to describe the fourteen speeches made by Cicero in late 44 and early 43 and in which he passionately denounced Mark Antony. It can be used about any passionate attack, usually in political matters, on an individual, and usually delivered as a speech.
For a note on a homophone, see fillip - Philip.