SAVOY, HOUSE OF, 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 Zähringen, &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
Salmourenc in the Viennois, in 1017 of Nyon on the
Lake of Geneva, and in 1024 Humbert
the White-handed.of the Val d'Aosta on the 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., corresponding roughly to modern Piedmont and part of Liguria (1045). Umberto died some time after 1056 and was succeeded by his Oddone.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 1860; 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 1060, and was succeeded by his widow Adelaide; but before her death in 1091 his son, Peter I., became count, and subsequently the latter's brother, Amadeus II. Under Humbert II. (1080) occurred the first clash with the Piedrnontese communes, but he and his successors, Amadeus III. (who died on his way home Thomas I.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 over lordship 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 fieis 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 principality 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), Amadeus
VI.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 Amadeus VIII. 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 F ELIX 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