Page:The Normans in European History.djvu/140

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geographical centre. The rivers in their courses fought against the Plantagenets.

The personal element in the struggle was weighted against the Anglo-Norman empire even more strongly than the physiographic, for the weak links in the Plantagenet succession ran parallel to the strongest portion of the Capetian line. Against a knight-errant like Richard and a trifler like John, stood a great European statesman in the person of Philip Augustus, king of France during forty-four years, and more than any single man the creator of the French monarchy.

Philip Augustus was not an heroic figure, and to the men of his age he was probably less sympathetic than his adversary Richard. Vigorous and enduring, a generous liver, quick-tempered but slow to cherish hatred, Philip was preëminently the cautious, shrewd, unscrupulous, far-sighted statesman. He could fight when necessary, but he had no great personal courage and excelled in strategy and prevision rather than in tactics or leadership in the field, and he preferred to gain his ends by the arts of diplomacy. The quality upon which all his contemporaries dwell is his wisdom. Throughout his long reign he kept before him as his one aim the increase of the royal power, and by his patient and fortunate efforts he broke down the Plantagenet empire, doubled the royal revenue and more than doubled the royal do-