Philip was born in Gwynedd, Wales. When he was six-years old his Father, known only as 'Da', came home wounded from a battle.[1]Their house was quickly invaded by English soldiers, who killed both his 'Da' and his mother, 'Mam'. However, before they were able to kill Philip and his brother Francis, an Abbot called Peter stopped them and looked after the boys, eventually taking them into the church to be raised as monks. There, Philip lived in harmony, save a year in his youth when he rebelled against the system, which he soon grew out of after realising he hadn't been punished for any of his crimes, and when fleshly lusts soon dominated his thoughts, but that too passed and faded from his mind mostly.

Philip worked as the assistant to the Cellarer, before being elevated to the post on the Cellarer's death. After his brother Francis left to become a Priest, he asked about his role in the monastery.

Pillars of the EarthEdit

Part IEdit

Philip, as Prior of St-John-in-the-Forest, is visited by his brother Francis, who is carrying a baby. He and the other monks begin to look after the baby, but Francis interrupts them and talks to Philip in private. He tells him of the looming Civil War and instructs his brother to go to Kingsbridge to warn the higher monks of Bartholomew's loyalty to Maud.

Philip decides to go to the Bishop of Kingsbridge, as he would have the power necessary to warn the right people. He makes up a ruse that he is travelling to Kingsbridge to see Prior James, but instead heads to the Bishop's palace on the way there. On the road he meets Tom Builder, and his family, who he shares dinner with as an act of charity. Tom tells him of his situation, and in this way they become aquainted.

Although not able to get an audience with the Bishop, Philip does meet Waleran Bigod, who takes the matters into his own hands. At first, Philip is in awe of the Archdeacon, and he begins to admire him greatly, until circumstances make them into enemies.

Appearance and PersonalityEdit

Philip is Welsh. He is also short in stature, with bright blue eyes and black hair, shaved as is typical for monks of the time. Later in life he becomes stout, and his hair turns grey.

Philip is extremely devoted to the Church. Most of his decisions

Prior Philip

are based around this, including some of less popular actions, such as refusing to marry Aliena and Jack. Philip is also very sympathetic, but he has little tolerance for anyone who doesn't appreciate his ways, or God, however he is ready to forgive easily, as he does when Ellen desicrates the Bible. He lives an asture life style, so that he may follow God's teachings better, and unlike most of the books characters, he cares little for sex or intimate relations between couples. That said, he encourages them, in the correct circumstances, and doesn't begrudge anyone their lives, as he is very content with his own.


  1. "Pillars of the Earth", pg.90

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