Savoy, house of, dynasty of Western Europe that ruled Savoy and Piedmont from the 11th cent., the kingdom of Sicily from 1714 to 1718, the kingdom of Sardinia from 1720 to 1861, and the kingdom of Italy from 1861 to 1946. Collateral branches of the house of Savoy include that of Nemours.

Savoy and Piedmont

Its first important member was Count Humbert the Whitehanded, a powerful feudal lord of the kingdom of Arles (in SE France) in the 11th cent. He held possessions in Savoy and acquired, through marriage, several fiefs in Piedmont, including Turin. Through marriage, diplomacy, and conquest his successors expanded their holdings in France, Switzerland, and Italy, acquiring Bresse and Bugey, Chablais (on the south shore of the Lake of Geneva), Lower Valais, Gex, Ivrea, Pinerolo, Nice, parts of Vaud and of Geneva, and other seigniories and towns. Chambéry, acquired in 1232, became the seat of the counts, whose scattered possessions were gradually consolidated. Amadeus VIII acquired the ducal title in 1416. His son Louis (d. 1465) married Anne de Lusignan, titular heiress to the kingdoms of Jerusalem, Cyprus, and Armenia; these titles were later borne by ruling members of the house.

The expansion of Switzerland and the Italian Wars resulted in the temporary disintegration of the duchy. The Swiss took the lower Valais (1475) and Vaud (1536); Geneva became independent (1533); and the rest of the duchy was occupied (1536) by Francis I of France. In 1559, however, Duke Emmanuel Philibert, called Ironhead, obtained the restoration of his duchy—except the larger part of the Swiss conquests—under the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis. Emmanuel Philibert made Turin his capital, thus shifting the center of his duchy from France to Italy. The language and tone of the court, however, remained French until the late 18th cent. Emmanuel Philibert's son and successor, Charles Emmanuel I, unsuccessfully sought to reconquer Geneva. He gained (1601) the marquisate of Saluzzo in Piedmont from France in exchange for Bresse, Bugey, and Gex.

The Kingdom of Sicily

Charles Emmanuel I's successor, Victor Amadeus II, expanded his territories by advantageous alliances. In the War of the Spanish Succession he sided first with France, then with the forces of the Holy Roman emperor; by the peace of Utrecht (1713-14) he became king of Sicily and enlarged his Piedmontese territories. His cousin, Eugene of Savoy, headed the imperial forces in the war. Spain reconquered Sicily in 1718 but was forced by the Quadruple Alliance to cede Sardinia to Victor Amadeus in exchange for Sicily.

The Kingdom of Sardinia

After the acquisition of Sardinia, the political history of the dynasty became that of the kingdom of Sardinia (see Sardinia, kingdom of) and of Italy. Victor Amadeus II was succeeded by Charles Emmanuel III (reigned 1730-73), Victor Amadeus III (reigned 1773-96), and Charles Emmanuel IV, who lost all but the island of Sardinia to Napoleon I and abdicated (1802) in favor of his brother, Victor Emmanuel I. Restored to his possessions in 1814, Victor Emmanuel I abdicated in 1821, after the outbreak of a revolution in Piedmont. His brother and successor, Charles Felix, died without issue in 1831, and the cadet line of Savoy-Carignano, descended from a younger son of Charles Emmanuel I, came to the throne in the person of Charles Albert.

The Kingdom of Italy

In Charles Albert's reign the house of Savoy became the center of the Risorgimento, the movement that led to the unification of Italy under his son, Victor Emmanuel II. Savoy itself, however, was ceded to France in 1860. Humbert I, who succeeded (1878) Victor Emmanuel II as king of Italy, was assassinated in 1900. His son and successor, Victor Emmanuel III, also took the titles emperor of Ethiopia (1936) and king of Albania (1939); after the Italian armistice (1943) with the Allies in World War II he delegated (1944) his powers to his son, who briefly ruled (1946) as Humbert II from Victor Emmanuel's abdication until the establishment of the Italian republic, when the family went into exile. Male members of the family were barred from entering Italy from 1948 to 2002.

A younger son of Victor Emmanuel II, Amadeus, was given the title duke of Aosta; he was king of Spain from 1870 to 1873. His ducal title descended to Emmanuel Philibert, duke of Aosta.


See E. L. Cox, The Eagles of Savoy (1974).

Savoy, Prince Eugene of: see Eugene of Savoy.
Savoy, Fr. Savoie, Alpine region of E France. The boundaries of old Savoy have changed with time, but presently the region comprises the departments of Savoie and Haute-Savoie. It is bounded on the N by Lake Geneva, on the W by the Rhône River, on the S by Dauphiné, and on the E by the Alpine crest on the Swiss and Italian borders. Chambéry is the historic capital of French Savoy. The region commands many important passes connecting France and Italy (notably the historic Little Saint Bernard and the Mont Cenis) and includes the French portion of the highest Alpine peak, Mont Blanc. Agriculture and dairying have long been the region's chief occupations. Tourism is also important, and there are many spas, the most notable at Évian-les-Bains. Savoy was inhabited by the Allobroges at the time Julius Caesar conquered the region. It became part of the first kingdom of Burgundy (5th cent.) and later of the kingdom of Arles (10th cent.), after which it was ceded to the Holy Roman Empire. In the 11th cent., Humbert the Whitehanded, a lord of Arles, consolidated the various feudal territories of the region, and from then on the region's history is closely linked with the house of Savoy (see Savoy, house of). Under Amadeus VIII, Savoy became (early 15th cent.) a duchy extending far into France, Italy, and Switzerland. By the beginning of the 16th cent. the rule of the dukes had grown weak, and Savoy fell under French and Swiss dominance. Emmanuel Philibert greatly restored the territory and fortunes of the region and moved the ducal residence to Turin (1559), after which Savoy became essentially an Italian rather than a French state. When Victor Amadeus II became king of Sardinia in 1713, Savoy became a part of that new state (see Sardinia, kingdom of). Annexed by France in 1792, Savoy was returned to Sardinia in 1815. Finally, by the Treaty of Turin (1860), Piedmont, then the ruling part of Savoy, ceded French Savoy to France. The region was annexed after a plebiscite.
Savoy, the, chapel in London, between the Strand and the Thames River. Its name is derived from the palace of Peter of Savoy, uncle of Eleanor of Provence, wife of Henry III. Destroyed (1381) in the Peasants' Revolt, the palace was rebuilt (1505) as the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem by Henry VII and finally destroyed when its foundations were removed in 1810 before the Waterloo Bridge was built. The chapel, which was connected with the hospital, is maintained by the crown. The Savoy Conference of 12 bishops of the Church of England and 12 Puritan divines was convened in 1661. They tried to revise the Book of Common Prayer but could not reach agreement. Near the chapel is the Savoy Theatre, erected in 1881 by Richard D'Oyly Carte for the production of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.

For the two French départements of the region of Savoy, see Savoie and Haute-Savoie''
Savoy (French: Savoie, ; Italian: Savoia) is a region of Europe on the western flank of the Alps that emerged following the collapse of the Frankish Kingdom of Burgundy. Installed by Rudolph III, King of Burgundy, officially in 1003, the House of Savoy became the longest surviving royal house in Europe. It ruled the County of Savoy to 1416 and then the Duchy of Savoy from 1416 to 1714. The County and Duchy of Savoy incorporated Turin and other territories in Piedmont, a region in north western Italy that borders Savoy, which were also possessions of the House of Savoy. The capital of the Duchy remained at the traditional Savoyard capital of Chambéry until 1563, when it was moved to Turin. In the 18th century, the Duchy of Savoy was linked with the Kingdom of Sardinia. While the heads of the House of Savoy were known as the Kings of Sardinia, Turin remained their capital. The original territory of Savoy was absorbed into France in 1860, as part of the political agreement with Napoleon III that brought about the unification of Italy, but the House of Savoy retained its Italian lands and its heads became the Kings of Italy.

In modern France, Savoy is part of the Rhône-Alpes region. Following its annexation to France in 1860, the territory of Savoy was divided administratively into two separate départements, Savoie and Haute-Savoie. The modern separatist / regionalist movements are discussed in the "Annexation and Opposition" section in this article.

The traditional capital remains Chambéry (Chiamberì), on the rivers Leysse and Albane, hosting the castle of the House of Savoy and the Savoyard senate. The state included six districts:


The region was once part of the Roman Empire. The name Savoy stems from the Late Latin Sapaudia, referring to a fir forest. It is first recorded in Ammianus Marcellinus (354), to describe the southern part of Maxima Sequanorum According to the Gallic Chronicle of 452, it was separated from the rest of Burgundian territories in 443, after the Burgundian defeat by Aetius.

Later it became part of the Kingdom of the Franks. The first embodiment of Savoy in the modern sense was created out of a fragment of Middle Francia, the central of the three kingdoms into which the Frankish Empire was divided by the Treaty of Verdun (843). Savoy was part of Lotharingia, then part of the Kingdom of Burgundy (also known as the Kingdom of Arles. The County of Savoy was detached from the Kingdom of Arles by emperor Charles IV in 1361. In 1388, the County of Nice was acquired, and in 1401 the County of Genevois (the area of Geneva except for the city proper). On February 19, 1416, Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor, made the County of Savoy an independent duchy, with Amédée VIII as the first duke. In 1563 Emmanuel Philibert moved capital from Chambéry to Turin, which was less vulnerable to French interference. In 1714, as a consequence of the War of the Spanish Succession, Savoy was technically subsumed into the Kingdom of Sicily, then (after that island was traded to Austria for Sardinia) the Kingdom of Sardinia from 1720.

French occupation

Savoy was occupied by French revolutionary forces between 1792 and 1815. The region 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.)

On September 13, 1793 the combined forces of Savoy, Piedmont and Valdot fought against and lost to the occupying French forces at the Battle of Méribel (Sallanches).

Savoy, along with Piedmont and Nice were restored to the Kingdom of Sardinia at the Congress of Vienna in 1814-1815.

Annexation and opposition

Savoy was annexed by France on March 24, 1860 according to the provisions of the Treaty of Turin. The treaty was followed on April 22/23 by a plebiscite in which voters were offered the option of approving the treaty and joining France or rejecting the treaty under certain conditions; the disallowed options of either joining Switzerland (with which the region had close ties), remaining with Italy, or regaining its independence, were the source of some opposition. With a 99.8% vote in favour of joining France, there were allegations of vote-rigging.

Some opposition to French rule was manifest when, in 1919, France officially (but contrary to the annexation treaty) ended the military neutrality of the parts of the country of Savoy that had originally been agreed at the Congress of Vienna, and also eliminated the free trade zone - both treaty articles having been broken unofficially in World War I. France was condemned in 1932 by the international court for the non compliance with the measures of the treaty of Turin, on the countries of Savoy and Nice.

For reasons such as these, there is currently a peaceful separatist movement in the départements, as well as a faction in favour of greater regional powers.

The Mouvement Région Savoie (Savoy Regional Movement) was founded in December 1971 as a 'movement' (rather than a traditional political party) in favour of regional autonomy. In the 1996 local elections the Savoie Regional Movement received 19,434 votes.

In the March 1998 regional elections, 1 seat (out of 23) was won by Patrice Abeille, leader of the Ligue Savoisienne (Savoie League, founded 1994), which had set up a 'provisional Savoie government' two years earlier. This group base its actions on the decline of the treaty of annexation. The League gathered a total of 17,865 votes across the two départements. In the same elections a further 4,849 voted in favour of the Savoie Movement.

As a result of the regional debate sparked by the political advances, the non-party organisation, La Région Savoie, j’y crois ! (I believe in the Savoy Region!), was founded in 1998. The organisation campaigns for the replacement of the Savoie and Haute-Savoie départements with a regional government, separate from the Rhône-Alpes region, with greater devolved powers. According to surveys conducted in 2000, between 41% and 55% of the population are in favour of the proposal. 19% to 23% were in favour of separation from France.

In 2004, Waiting for freedom in Savoy was founded to promote the peaceful separatist cause to young people.

Towards the end of 2005, Hervé Gaymard called for Savoie to be given special status similar to a French region, under his proposed 'Conseil des Pays de Savoie'.


See also

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