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Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 256 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HOUSE OF SAVOY, a dynasty which ruled over the territory of Savoy and Piedmont for nine centuries, and now reigns over the kingdom of Italy. The name of Savoy was known to the Romans during the decline of the empire. In the 5th century the territory was conquered by the Burgundians, and formed part of their kingdom; nearly a hundred years later it was occupied by the Franks. It was included in Charlemagne's empire and was divided by him into counties, which evolved there as elsewhere into hereditary fiefs; but after the .break-up of Charlemagne's empire, the Burgundian kingdom revived and Savoy was again absorbed in it. After the collapse of that monarchy its territories passed to the German kings, and Savoy was divided between the counts of Provence, of Albon, of Gex, of Bresse, of the Genevois, of Maurienne, the lords of Habsburg, of Zahringen, &c., and several prelates. The founder of the house of Savoy is Umberto Biancamano (Humbert the White-handed), a feudal lord of uncertain but probably Teutonic descent, who in 1003 was count of Humbert Salmourenc in the Viennois, in 1017 of Nyon on the the White- Lake of Geneva, and in 1024 of the Val d'Aosta on the handed. eastern slope of the Western Alps. In 1034 he obtained part of Maurienne as a reward for helping King Conrad the Salic to make good his claims on Burgundy. He also obtained the counties of Savoy, Belley, part of the Tarantaise, and the Chablais. With these territories Umberto commanded three of the great Alpine passes, viz. the Mont Cenis and the two St Bernards. In the meanwhile his son Oddone married Adelaide, eldest daughter and heiress of Odelrico Manfredi, marquess of Susa, a descendant of Arduino of Ivrea, king of Italy, who ruled over the counties of Turin, Auriate, Asti, Bredulo, Vercelli, &c., correspond- ing roughly to modern Piedmont and part of Liguria (1045). Umberto died some time after 1056 and was succeeded by his oddene. son, Amadeus I., at whose death the country passed to Oddone, the husband of the countess Adelaide. Oddone thus came to rule over territories on both sides of the Alps, a fact which was to dominate the policy of Savoy until 186o; its situation between powerful neighbours accounting for its vacillating attitude, whence arose the charges of duplicity levelled against many of its rulers, while its dominion over the Alpine passes brought many advantages. Oddone died in ro6o, and was succeeded by his widow Adelaide; but before her death in 1ow his son, Peter I., became count, and subsequently the latter's brother, Amadeus II. Under Humbert II. (ro8o) occurred the first clash with the Piedmontese communes, but he and his successors, Amadeus III. (who died on his way home Thomas /, from the crusades) and Thomas I. (1189), adopted a policy of conciliation towards them. Thomas, who reigned until 1222, was a Ghibelline in politics and greatly increased the importance of Savoy, for he was created Imperial Vicar and acquired important extensions of territory in the Bugey, Vaud and Romont to the west of the Alps, and Carignano, Pinerolo, Moncalieri and Vigone .to the east; he also exercised sway over Geneva, Albenga, Savona and Saluzzo. At his death these territories were divided among his sons, Thomas II. obtaining Piedmont, Aimone the Chablais, Peter and Philip other fiefs, and Amadeus IV., the eldest, Savoy and a general overlordship over his brothers' estates. Peter visited England several times, one of his nieces, Eleanor of Provence, being the wife of the English king Henry III., and another, Sancha, wife of Richard, earl of Cornwall. Henry conferred great honours on Peter, creating him earl of Richmond, and gave him a palace on the Thames, known as Savoy House. Count Peter also acquired fresh territories in Vaud, and defeated Rudolph of Habsburg at Chillon. Thomas's other sons received fiefs and bishoprics abroad, and one of them, Boniface, was made archbishop of Canterbury. Thomas II., after capturing several cities and castles in Piedmont, lost them again and was made prisoner by the citizens of Turin, but was afterwards liberated. He alone of the sons of Thomas I. left male heirs, and his son Amadeus V. (1285—1323) reunited the scattered dominions of his house. When Amadeus succeeded to the throne these were divided into the county of Savoy (his own territory), the princi- pality of Piedmont ruled by his nephew Philip, prince of Achaea (a title acquired through his wife, Isabella of Villehardouin, heiress of Achaea and the Morea), and Vaud ruled by his brother Louis. But although this division was formally recognized in 1295, Amadeus succeeded in enforcing his own supremacy over the whole country and making of it a more unified state than before, and by war, purchase or treaty he regained other fiefs which his predecessors had lost. He fought in many campaigns against the dauphins of Viennois, the counts of Genevois, the people of Sion and Geneva, the marquesses of Saluzzo and Montferrat, and the barons of Faucigny. He also acted as peacemaker between France and England, accompanied the emperor Henry VII. of Luxemburg on his expedition to Italy, reorganized the finances of the realm and reinforced the Salic law of succession. He was succeeded by his sons, Edward (1323—1329), known as " the Liberal," on account of his extravagance, and Aimone, the Peaceful (1329—1343), who strove to repair the harm done to the state's exchequer by his predecessor and proved one of the best princes of his line. Amadeus VI. (1343 1383), son of the latter (known as the Conte Verde or Green Count because of the costume he habitually wore at tourneys), succeeded at the age of nine. He won a reputation as a bold knight in the fields of chivalry and in the crusades, and he inaugurated a new policy for his house by devoting more attention to his Italian possessions than to those on the French side of the Alps and in Switzerland. In 1366 he led an expedition to the East against the Turks; and he arbitrated between Milan and the house of Montferrat (1379), between the Scaligeri and the Visconti, and between Venice and Genoa after the " War of Chioggia " (1381). Amadeus was the first sovereign to introduce a system of gratuitous legal assistance for the poor. He unfortunately espoused the cause of Louis, duke of Anjou, and while aiding that prince in his attempt to recover the kingdom of Naples he died of the plague, leaving his realm to his son, Amadeus VII., the Conte Rosso or Red Count " (1383-1391); the latter added Nice (1388) and other territories to his domains. During the reign of Amadeus VIII. (1391—1440), Savoy prospered in every way. The count extended his territories both in Savoy itself and in Italy, and in 1416 was created duke by the emperor Sigismund. He was distinguished for his wisdom and justice, and in 1430 he promulgated a general statute of laws for the whole duchy, in spite of the opposition of the nobles and cities whose privileges were thereby curtailed. In 1434 he retired to the hermitage of Ripaille on the Lake of Geneva, but continued to conduct the chief affairs of the state and to mediate between foreign Powers, leaving matters of less importance to his son Louis. Five years later the council of Basel by a strange decision elected Amadeus pope, in spite of his not being a priest, and deposed Eugenius IV. Amadeus accepted the dignity, assuming the style of Felix V., and abdicated the dukedom. For nine years he remained pope, although he never went to Rome and one-half of Christendom regarded him as an anti-pope. On the death of Eugenius (1447) Thomas of Sarzana was elected as Nicholas V., and in 1449 Amadeus abdicated and returned to his hermitage at Ripaille, where he died two years later (see FELIx V.). Under Louis Savoy began to decline, for he was indolent, incapable, and entirely ruled by his wife, Anne of Lusignan, daughter of the king of Cyprus, an ambitious and intriguing woman; she induced him to fit out an expensive expedition to Cyprus, which brought him no advantage save the barren title of king of Cyprus, Jerusalem and Armenia. He neglected to make good the claims which he might have enforced to the duchy of Milan on the death of Filippo Maria, the last Visconti (1447). His latter years were troubled by conspiracies and dissensions on the part of the nobles and even of his own son, Philip, count of Bresse. He went to France to seek aid of King Louis XI., but died there in 1465. In spite of his incapacity he acquired the city of Freiburg and the homage of the lords of Monaco. He was succeeded by his son, Amadeus IX. (1455—1472), who on account of ill-health left the duchy in the hands of his wife, Yolande, sister of Louis XI. This led to feuds and intrigues Amadeus vi. Amadeus viii. on the part of the French king and of Philip of Bresse, and Savoy would probably have been dismembered but for the patriotic action of the States General. On Amadeus's death, his son Philibert I. (1472–1482) succeeded, but as he was a minor the States General appointed his mother Yolande regent. Wars and civil commotions occupied the period of his minority and Savoy lost Freiburg and many other territories. Yolande died in 1472, and the regency was disputed by various claimants; Philip of Bresse having obtained it by force, he carried off Philibert, who died in 1482 at Lyons. He was succeeded by his brother Charles I. (1482–1490), who, freed by Louis XI. from the dangerous protection of Philip of Bresse and by death from that of the French king, crushed the rebellious nobles and seized Saluzzo (1487). He did much to raise the falling fortunes of his house, but died at the age of thirty-one. Under his successor Charles II. (1490-1496), an infant in arms, the duchy was again distracted by civil war and foreign invasions. Charles died at an early age, and, having no male heirs, the aged Philip of Bresse succeeded, but reigned only for one year. Philibert II. (1497–1504) followed, but he was devoted only to pleasure and left the helm of state to his half-brother, Renato, and later to his wife, Margaret of Austria. He died without heirs and was succeeded by his brother, Charles III. During his reign Savoy abandoned its attitude of subserviency to France, adopting a policy of greater independence, and became more friendly to Austria. Tinder Charles III. (1504-1553), the duchy suffered a series of misfortunes. Although the duke strove after peace at almost Emmanuel any price, he was nearly always involved in war and Philibert. lost many possessions, including Geneva and Vaud. At his death the whole country was overrun by the hostile armies of Francis I. of France and of the Emperor Charles V., while his son and successor, Emmanuel Philibert (1553-1580), was serving in the Spanish armies. Emmanuel could not take possession of the duchy at once, but continued to serve the emperor as governor-general of the Low Countries. By his victory at St Quentin over the French in 1557 he proved himself one of the first generals of the day, and by the terms of the subsequent treaty of Cateau Cambresis he was reinstated in most of his hereditary possessions (1559). Under Emmanuel Philibert Savoy lost all traces of constitutional government and became an absolute despotism of the type then predominating throughout the greater part of Europe. At the same time he raised his country from ruin and degradation into a prosperous and powerful monarchy. He induced both France and Spain to evacuate the fortresses which they still held in Piedmont, made a profitable exchange of territory with the Bernese, and acquired an extension of seaboard by the purchase of Tenda and Oneglia (see EMMANUEL PHILIBERT of Savoy). Chaves His son and successor, Charles Emmanuel I., surnamed Emmanuel the Great, strengthened the tendency of Savoy to become less of a French and more of an Italian Power. In 1588 he wrested Saluzzo from the French; but his expeditions to Provence and Switzerland were unsuccessful. In the war between France and Spain after the accession of Henry IV., he took the Spanish side, and at the peace of Lyons (16o1), although he gave up all his territories beyond the Rhone, his possession of Saluzzo was confirmed. His attempt to capture Geneva by treachery (1602) failed, and although on the death of Francesco Gonzaga, duke of Mantua and Montferrat, he seized the latter city (1612) he was forced by Spain and her allies to relinquish it. The Spaniards invaded the duchy, but after several years of hard fighting the peace of 1618 left his territory almost intact. In 1628 he sided with Spain against France; the armies of the latter overran the duchy, and Charles Emmanuel died in 1630 (see CHARLES EMMANUEL). His son, Victor Amadeus I. (1630—1637), succeeded to little more than a title, but by his alliance with France—his wife Christina being a daughter of Henry IV.—he managed to regain most of his territories. He proved a wise and popular ruler, and his early death was much deplored. His eldest son, Francis Giacinto, a minor, lived only a year, and his second son, Charles Emmanuel H., also a minor, remained under the regency of his mother. his only son, Victor Amadeus II. (1675–1732). The victor latter's minority was passed under the regency of his ;madeus able but imperious mother, Jeanne of Savoy-Nemours. He married Anne of Orleans, daughter of Henrietta of England and niece of Louis XIV. of France. The French king treated Victor Amadeus almost as a vassal, and obliged him to persecute his Protestant (Waldensian) subjects. But the young duke, galled by Louis's overbearing arrogance, eventually asserted his independence and joined the league of Austria, Spain and Venice against him in 169o. The campaign was carried on with varying success, but usually to the advantage of Louis, and the French victory at Marsiglia and the selfish conduct of the allies induced Victor to come to terms with France, and to turn against the imperialists (1696). By the treaty of Ryswick a general peace was concluded. In the war of the Spanish Succession (1700) we find Victor at first on the French side, until, dissatisfied with the continued insolence of Louis XIV. and of Philip of Spain, he went over to the Austrians in 1704. The French invaded Piedmont, but were totally defeated at the siege of Turin by Victor Amadeus and Prince Eugene of Savoy (1706), and eventually driven from the country. By the treaty of Utrecht (1713) Victor received the long-coveted Montferrat and was made king of Sicily; but in 1718 the powers obliged him to exchange that kingdom for Sardinia, which conferred The king' on the rulers of Savoy and Piedmont the title subse- Sar dom or dinia. quently borne by them until they assumed that of kings of Italy. In 1730 he abdicated in favour of his son, Charles Emmanuel, retired to Chambery, and married the countess of San Sebastiano (afterwards Marchioness of Spigno). His wife's ambitions induced him to try to regain the crown, but his son had him arrested, and he died in prison in 1732 (see VICTOR AMADEUS II.). Charles Emmanuel III. (1730—1773) was a born soldier and took part in the war of the Polish Succession on the side of France against Austria, and for his victory at Guastalla (1734) was awarded the duchy of Milan, which, however, he was forced to relinquish at the peace of Vienna (1736), retaining only Novara and Tortona. In the war of the Austrian Succession, which broke out on the death of the Emperor Charles VI., he took the side of Maria Theresa (1742). By the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, following on the defeat of the French, Savoy gained some further accessions of territory in Piedmont. The reign of Charles's son, Victor Amadeus III. (1773–1796), was a period of decadence; the king was incapable and extravagant, and he chose equally incapable ministers. On the outbreak of the French Revolution he sided with the royalists and was eventually brought into conflict with the French republic. The army being demoralized and the treasury empty, the kingdom The fell an easy prey to the republican ,forces. Savoy French became a French province, and, although the Pied- occuPa- montese troops resisted bravely for four years in the 11011. face of continual defeats, Victor at last gave up the struggle as hopeless, signed the armistice of Cherasco, and died soon after-wards (1796). He was succeeded in turn by his three sons, Charles Emmanuel IV., Victor Emmanuel I., and Charles Felix. Charles Emmanuel (1796–1802), believing in Bonaparte's promises, was induced to enter into a confederation with France and give up the citadel of Turin to the French, which meant the end of his country's independence. Realizing his folly he abdicated on the 6th of December 1796, and retired to Sardinia, That princess, in spite of her French origin, resisted the attempts of France, then dominated by Cardinal Richelieu, to govern Savoy, but her quarrels with her brothers-in-law led to civil war, in which the latter obtained the help of Spain, and Christina that of France. In the end the duchess succeeded in patching up these feuds and saving the dynasty, and in 1648 Charles Emmanuel II. assumed the government. The war between France and Spain continued to rage, and Savoy, on whose territory much of the fighting took place, suffered severely in consequence. By the treaty of the Pyrenees (1669) the war came to an end and Savoy regained most of the towns occupied by France. Charles died in 1675 and was succeeded by
End of Article: HOUSE OF SAVOY

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