Duchy of Savoy

Duchy of Savoy
Duchy of Savoy
Ducatus Sabaudiae (lat)
Duché de Savoie (fr)
Ducato di Savouè (frp)
Ducato di Savoia (it)
Ducà 'd Savòja (pms)
State of the Holy Roman Empire

1416 – 1713
Flag of Savoy Coat of arms of Savoy
Duchy of Savoy (green) in 1600.
Capital Chambéry (1416-1562)
Turin (1562-1713)
Language(s) Piedmontese, Latin, French, Italian, Arpitan
Religion Roman Catholicism
Government Duchy
 - 1416-1440 Amadeus VIII
 - 1675-1713 Victor Amadeus II
Historical era Middle Ages
 - County of Savoy raised
    to a duchy
1416 1416
 - Occupied by France 153659, 1630,
169096, 170313
 - Acquired Sicily and parts
    of the Duchy of Milan
April 11, 1713
 - Acquired the kingdom
    of Sardinia
in exchange
    for Sicily
 - Occupied by
    Revolutionary France
 - Savoy to France,
    as price for
    Italian unification
1860 1713
 - Duke becomes king of
March 17, 1861
* The Duchy of Savoy became the Piedmont-Sardinia Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia in 1720; the territory of Savoy remained a part of Piedmont-Sardinia until 1860, when it was given to the France Second French Empire in exchange for their support of the Risorgimento.
For the early history of Savoy, before it was raised to a duchy, see County of Savoy and March of Turin.

From 1416 to 1847, the House of Savoy ruled the eponymous Duchy of Savoy (French: Savoie, Italian: Savoia, German: Savoyen). The Duchy was a state in the northern part of the Italian Peninsula, with some territories that are now in France. It was a continuation of the County of Savoy. The duchy was a constituent state of the Holy Roman Empire, specifically its Upper Rhenish Circle.



15th Century

The Duchy was created in 1416 following Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor, awarding the title Duke to Count Amadeus VIII. The territory of the Duchy then included Moriana, the Valle d'Aosta, and Piedmont.

Being landlocked earlier, in 1388 the then County had conquered a few kilometres of coastline around Nice. Other than that, the 14th century had been a time of stagnation. The pressure of the neighboring powers, particularly France, prevented development, which characterizes the rest of the Renaissance for Savoy.

The reign of Amadeus VIII was a turning point for the economy and the policy of the state, and deeply marked the history of the nation. His long reign was marked by wars (the country expanded its territory by defeating the Duchy of Monferrato and Lordship of Saluzzo), reforms and edicts, but also some controversial incidents: first of all when he chose, in 1434, to withdraw to the Château de Ripaille, where, living the life of a hermit, he founded the Order of St. Maurice, and in 1439 received the appointment as antipope which he accepted (under the name of Felix V) and subsequently declined a decade later, fearful of undermining the religious unity of Christians.

Also an important action of the Government of Amadeo VIII, was the creation of the Principality of Piedmont in August 1424, whose management was entrusted to the firstborn of the family, as a title of honor: the duke left the lands, therefore, largely formed from the old domain of Savoy. His son Amedeo, however, died prematurely in 1431. The area and the succession was assigned to the second son Louis.

As a cultured and refined man, Duke Amadeus gave great importance to art (he worked with, among others, the famous Giacomo Jaquerio), literature and architecture, encouraging the entry of art to the Italian Piedmont.

From the reign of Amadeus VIII the power was left to his son Louis of Savoy. Louis was then succeeded by the weak Amadeus IX who was extremely religious (he was declared blessed), but of little practical power to the point that he allowed his wife, Yolande (Violante) of Valois, sister of Louis XI, to make very important decisions. In this period, France was more or less free to control the affairs of Savoy, which bound the Piedmont to the crown in Paris.

The Duchy's economy suffered during these years, not only because of war, but also because of the poor administration by Violante and the continued donations by Amadeus IX to the poor of Vercelli. The future of the nation was entrusted to the hands of a boy, Philibert I, who died just at the age of seventeen, after ten years of reign. He was succeeded by Charles I, whose ascent to the throne seemed to promise a rebirth of the country.

16th Century

When Philibert II died in 1504, he was succeeded by Charles III the Good, a rather weak duke. Since 1515, Piedmont was occupied by foreign armies, and Francis I of France was just waiting for the opportunity to permanently annex the duchy of Savoy and its possessions. In 1536 Francis I ordered the occupation of the Duchy, which was invaded by a strong military contingent: Charles III realized too late the weakness of the state, and tried to defend the city of Turin, however the city was lost on April 3 of the same year. Charles III retired in Vercelli, trying to continue the fight, but never saw the state free from occupation.

Emmanuel Philibert was the Duke who more than any influenced the future policy Savoy, managing to put an end to the more than twenty-year long occupation. The Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis which was signed in 1559, restored full autonomy for the duchy.

Realizing that it could not longer trust France as a land of conquest, the center of gravity, and the capital, was moved to Turin, which yielded better defense by promoting the construction of a complex system of fortifications, the Cittadella (which still can be observed, although it is largely destroyed by the subsequent expansion of the city). From his military experience in Flanders, Emmanuel Philibert was the winner of the famous Battle of St. Quentin as he had learned how to run an army. He was therefore the first Duke of Savoy to establish a stable military apparatus that was not formed by mercenaries, but by Piedmont specially trained soldiers.

His son, Charles Emmanuel I, extended the duchy to the detriment of the lordships of Monferrato and the territory of Saluzzo, previously ceded to France, in 1601 with the Treaty of Lyon. Unfortunately, the wars of Charles Emmanuel ended mostly in defeats, but he is however often remembered as "the Great", as he was a versatile and cultured man, poet and skillful reformer. He was able to manage the Duchy at a time of severe crisis with the European powers, finding support at the court of the Habsburgs. The policy of Charles Emmanuel was in fact more based on actions of international warfare, such as the possession of the Marquis of Saluzzo, and the wars of succession to the duchies of Mantua and Monferrato. Generally, Savoy sided, on these occasions, alongside Spain, but also on occasions fell back to follow the French (as, for example, the Treaty of Susa required).

17th Century

During the seventeenth century the influence of the court of Versailles came to press on the Piedmont. The proximity of the Duchy of Milan, where troops were stationed in France, and the disposal of Pinerolo (one of the most important strongholds of Savoy), close to Turin. The court, which had been under Spanish influence with Charles Emmanuel I, became French under his three successors. The marriage of Vittorio Amedeo I with Maria Christina of Bourbon-France, the future Madame Royal. Cristina held the real power in Savoy during the short period of Francis Hyacinth and the young age of Charles Emmanuel II.

The strong French influence, plus various misfortunes repeatedly hit the Piedmont following the death of Charles Emmanuel II. First of all, the plague developed in 1630, contributed significantly to the already widespread poverty.

The Wars of Succession of Monferrato had been very bloody in the countryside and forced the Monferrato Castle to a long siege. These facts of arms and politics was hard to the economy and future history, exacerbating the already difficult situation after the death of Victor Amadeus I. He was succeeded for a short period of time, by the firstborn male Francis Hyacinth. The regency was then entrusted, to Carlo Emanuele II, from their mother Christine Marie of France, whose followers took the name of Madame. Because of this, Savoy was turned into a satellite state of Louis XIII. The principles of Maurice of Savoy and Prince Thomas Francis of Savoy, together with their followers, took the name of Principles.

The city of Turin was soon besieged by both factions. The principles won, making Turin subject to great looting on July 27, 1639. Only in 1642 it reached an agreement between the two factions, but now the widow of Victor Amadeus I had placed his son Charles Emmanuel II on the throne, and thus ruled in his place, even past his the age of the child.

During the regency, there was a resurgence of religious wars. In 1655, Savoyard troops massacred large numbers of the Protestant population of the Waldensian valleys, known as Pasque Piedmont, but were eventually stopped by international pressure. A final agreement with the Waldensians was carried out in 1664.

The government of Charles Emmanuel II was a first step towards major reforms by his successor and the next century. In particular, the creation of militias in Savoy and the first public school system in 1661. A cultured man, but also a great statesman, he was able to learn the lessons given to Europe by Louis XIV. He wanted to limit this to the court in the sumptuous palace of Venaria Reale, a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, and a recreation in Italy of the magnificence of the Palace of Versailles. It was the time of the great urban expansion, and Charles Emmanuel II promoted expansion of Turin and its reconstruction in the baroque style. At his death, he was followed by a period of regency held by the new Madama Reale Maria Giovanna Battista of Savoy-Nemours.

From duchy to kingdom

The son of Charles Emmanuel II, Victor Amadeus II, was under the regency of his mother the French born Marie Jeanne of Savoy in the early years of the reign, in which the energetic mother tried to unite the crown of Savoy with the Portuguese, and thus in the risk of compromising the very survival of the duchy (the Piedmont would be reduced like the other Italian states to a foreign power). With determination by the hand of the regent Victor Amadeus II, Savoy went into bad relations with the crown in Paris, which led to the invasion of the duchy by French forces. Savoy defeated the army of Louis XIV in the Siege of Cuneo, but was dramatically defeated in the battles of Staffarda and Marsaglia. Victor Amadeus II married Anne Marie d'Orléans, niece of Louis XIV.

After the War of the Great Alliance, Savoy sided in the first phase of the War of Spanish Succession alongside Louis XIV. By changing alliances a new French invasion of Savoy came, the troops of the Marquis of Fouillade was able to defeat troops of Savoy into Turin. The event, which succeeded only thanks to the arrival on the battlefield of the duke's cousin, Eugene of Savoy, resolved a conflict that spread destruction in Savoy.

At the end of the war in 1713, Savoy received Sicily, and Victor awarded the title of King besides the title of Duke of Savoy. According to the treaty of London of 1718, Victor Amadeus II exchanged Sicily for Sardinia in 1720. Sardinia was then changed into Kingdom of Sardinia. This newly formed country was called States of Savoy or Kingdom of Sardinia, it was composed of several states including Savoy, Piedmont, Aosta Valley, Nice, Oneglia and Sardinia.

After the French revolution, Savoy was occupied by French revolutionary forces between 1792 and 1815. The country was first added to the département of Mont-Blanc, then in 1798 was divided between the départements of Mont-Blanc and Léman (French name of Lake Geneva). Savoy, along with Piedmont and Nice were restored to the States of Savoy at the Congress of Vienna in 1814-1815.

In 1860, the Duchy of Savoy is annexed by France and the last Duke of Savoy Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy becomes King of Italy.

List of Dukes of Savoy


  1. ^ When the Duchy of Savoy acquired Sicily in 1713 and Sardinia in 1720, the title "Duke of Savoy" became a minor title face to the title of king. The Duchy of Savoy remained as administrative division of the new country until the provincial reform of King Charles Albert, then Savoy kept its sovereignty through the Senate but with few powers.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Savoy (disambiguation) — Savoy may refer to:Cities and regions * Savoy, the region of western Europe ** Duchy of Savoy, that ruled there in the Middle Ages ** The House of Savoy, dynasty of nobles who traditionally had their domain there * Savoy, a part of Sliema in… …   Wikipedia

  • Savoy — For the two French départements of the region of Savoy, see Savoie and Haute Savoie Savoy (French: Savoie , pronounced|savwa; Italian: Savoia ) is a region of Europe on the western flank of the Alps that emerged following the collapse of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Duchy of Montferrat — The Duchy of Montferrat was created out of what was left of the March of Montferrat after the last Palaeologus heir had died (1533) and the margraviate been briefly controlled by Spain (until 1536). After that brief interlude, it passed to the… …   Wikipedia

  • Duchy — A duchy is a territory, fief, or domain ruled by a duke or duchess. Some duchies were sovereign in areas that would become unified realms only during the Modern era (such as Germany and Italy). In contrast, others were subordinate districts of… …   Wikipedia

  • Savoy, Massachusetts — Infobox Settlement official name = Savoy, Massachusetts nickname = motto = imagesize = image caption = The Savoy Town Hall image mapsize = 250px map caption = Location in Berkshire County in Massachusetts mapsize1 = map caption1 = subdivision… …   Wikipedia

  • Duchy of Genoa — The Duchy of Genoa was the name taken by the territories of the former Republic of Genoa when they were given to the Kingdom of Sardinia by the Congress of Vienna in 1815. Ligurian people, with their independentistic and republican traditions,… …   Wikipedia

  • Savoy — /səˈvɔɪ/ (say suh voy) noun 1. a region in south eastern France, adjacent to the Swiss Italian border; formerly a duchy; later a part of the kingdom of Sardinia; ceded to France, 1860. French, Savoie. 2. House of, the rulers of the former duchy… …   Australian English dictionary

  • Duchy of Brittany — Dukelezh Vreizh Duché de Bretagne Monarchy ← …   Wikipedia

  • Duchy of Modena and Reggio — Duchy of Ducato di Modena e Reggio Ducatus Mutinae et Regii State of the Holy Roman Empire (until 1806) ← …   Wikipedia

  • Duchy of Guastalla — Ducato di Guastalla ← …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.