Robert III of Artois

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Robert III of Artois (1287–1342) was Lord of Conches-en-Ouche, of Domfront, and of Mehun-sur-Yèvre, and in 1310 he received as appanage the county of Beaumont-le-Roger in restitution for the county of Artois which he claimed.

Statue of Robert d'Artois in Versailles


Robert was the son of Philip of Artois, Lord of Conches-en-Ouche, and Blanche of Brittany, daughter of Duke John II, Duke of Brittany, both descended in male line from the Capetian dynasty.

He was only eleven when his father died on 11 September 1298 from wounds he received at the Battle of Furnes on 20 August 1297 against the Flemish people. The early death of his father was an indirect cause of the dispute over the succession to the county of Artois.

After the death of his grandfather, Robert II of Artois, in the Battle of Courtrai in 1302, the latter's daughter, Mahaut, inherited the County of Artois in accordance with custom. Because of his age, Robert III could not object to his aunt and assert the rights which he inherited from his father.

The rancor and intrigues between Mahaut (sometimes called Mathilde) and Robert were coated within a period of strife between France and England, before the Hundred Years' War.

Robert played an important role in the succession of Philip VI of France (his wife's half-brother) to the throne, and was his trusted adviser for some time. From it he drew a certain influence in the royal council which he used to try to wrest from Mahaut what he considered his county.

At Mahaut's death in 1329, the claim passed to her daughter Joan II, Countess of Burgundy. Building on the example of the estate of the County of Flanders, he again raised the matter of succession. Artois was put under the custody of the King of France. However in 1331, he used a forgery created by Jeanne Divion attesting to the will of his father. This deception was discovered and Robert lost any hope of acquiring Artois. The forger Jeanne Divion was condemned at the stake. Robert's goods were confiscated in 1331, and he fled the country in 1332 to escape arrest and execution, and took refuge with his nephew John II, Marquis of Namur. Philip confiscated his property, imprisoned his wife and his sons John and Charles, and requested that the Bishop of Liège attack Namur. Accordingly, Robert fled again to John III, Duke of Brabant, his nephew-in-law. Again, the influence of Philip stirred up a war against Brabant, and Robert was exiled again, this time to England. It was in England, where he joined Edward III in 1334 or in December 1336, where he found his revenge. Admitted to the English court, he urged Edward III – whose wife Philippa also descended from Charles of Valois – to start a war to reclaim the Kingdom of France and provided extensive information on the French court to the English king. This war of succession paved the way to the Hundred Years' War.

He followed Edward in his campaigns thereafter, including command of the Anglo-Flemish army at the battle of Saint-Omer in 1340;[1] he ultimately succumbed to dysentery after being wounded in an assault on the city of Vannes in November of 1342,[2] during the War of the Breton Succession. He was originally buried in the Blackfriars church, in London, though his grave is now in St. Paul's Cathedral.


From his marriage to Joan of Valois, daughter of Charles of Valois and Catherine I of Courtenay, he had six children:


Preceded by
Count of Beaumont-le-Roger
Succeeded by
to royal domain

In fiction[edit]

  • Robert III of Artois is a major character in Les Rois maudits (The Accursed Kings), a series of historical novels by Maurice Druon, where many of these events are retold.


  1. ^ Jonathan Sumption, The Hundred Years War:Trial by Battle, Vol.1, (Faber & Faber, 1990), 339.
  2. ^ Jonathan Sumption, The Hundred Years War:Trial by Battle, Vol.1, 404.

See also[edit]


  • Sumption, Jonathan, “The Hundred Years War, Volume 1: Trial by Battle”, 1990, Faber and Faber Limited.