Philip was the son and brother of two Holy Roman Emperors, Frederick I and Henry VI. Throughout his life, he dealt in politics at the highest level. His early career was the Church, but he forsook that calling after accompanying his brother the Emperor on a journey to Italy.
When Henry died, Philip attempted to ensure the succession of his nephew Frederick, but the idea of a child king was very unpopular. For several years he struggled to make peace, accepting the throne of Germany in an effort to unite warring factions. He had virtually succeeded when he was murdered by the Count Palatine of Bavaria.