The life of Philip of Chieti, begun in Flanders but spent chiefly in southern Italy, provides a good example of continuing loyalties across distance. It shows, first, that family ties in the thirteenth century could survive geographical separations to a surprising degree, at least where aristocratic males were concerned. Second, political constraints imposed in one society could and did have an impact on another society; and, incidentally, heroism and self-sacrifice could often go unrewarded and do little good to anyone. The background to his life was the conquest in 1266 by Charles of Anjou, brother of Louis IX, of the Regno, the kingdom of Sicily and southern Italy.
The hero of the story, whom I shall refer to as Philip of Chieti, but who was usually called Philippe de Thiette in French sources, and Filippo da Chieti in Italian, was the fifth son of Guy of Dampierre, count of Flanders, by his first marriage. The date of Philip's birth is unknown, but it was probably around 1262 or 1263. According to the seventeenth-century historian of the counts of Flanders, Olivarius Vredius, Philip's parents intended him for the church. He was consequently sent to Paris where, when studying, he met Charles of Anjou, by now king of Sicily. According to Vredius, Charles was much impressed by his lively intelligence, his good appearance and his considerable stature. He therefore negotiated with Guy of Dampierre to lure Philip from his studies to a military career in Sicily. Behind this late legend there is at least some truth.