At the beginning Metacom sought to live in harmony with the colonists. As a sachem, he took the lead in much of his tribes' trade with the colonies. He adopted the European name of Philip, and bought his clothes in Boston, Massachusetts.
But the colonies continued to expand. To the west, the Iroquois Confederation also was fighting against neighboring tribes in the Beaver Wars, pushing them from the west and encroaching on his territory. Finally, in 1671 the colonial leaders of the Plymouth Colony forced major concessions from him. Metacomet surrendered much of his tribe's armament and ammunition, and agreed that they were subject to English law. The encroachment continued until hostilities broke out in 1675. Metacomet led the opponents of the English, with the goal of stopping Puritan expansion.
In the spring of 1660 Metacomet's brother Wamsutta appeared before the court of Plymouth to request that he and his brother be given English names. The court agreed and Wamsutta had his name changed to Alexander, and Metacomet's was changed to Philip. Author Nathaniel Philbrick has suggested that the Wampanoag may have taken action at the urging of Wamsutta's interpreter, the Christian convert John Sassamon. Metacomet was later called "King Philip" by the English.
Metacomet used tribal alliances to coordinate efforts to push European colonists out of New England. Many of the native tribes in the region wanted to push out the colonists following conflicts over land use, diminished game as a consequence of expanding European settlement, and other tensions.
As the colonists brought their growing numbers to bear, King Philip and some of his followers took refuge in the great Assowamset Swamp in southern Massachusetts. He held out for a time, with his family and remaining followers.
Hunted by a group of rangers led by Captain Benjamin Church, he was fatally shot by a praying Indian named John Alderman, on August 12, 1676, in the Miery Swamp near Mount Hope in Bristol, Rhode Island. After his death, his wife and nine-year-old son were captured and sold as slaves in Bermuda. Philip's head was mounted on a pike at the entrance to Fort Plymouth, where it remained for more than two decades. His body was cut into quarters and hung in trees. Alderman was given Metacomet's right hand as a reward.