1610-1660 History of Italy Savoy-Sardinia

The Duchy of Savoy-Piemont 1660-1730

The Dukes of Savoy, in dynastic union, had combined the Duchy of Savoy and a number of territories in northwestern Italy, summarily referred to as Piemont. The dukes established a central administration with seat at Turin (Torino); representative organizations (estates) existed in territorial level, for instance the Senate of Savoy (i.e. Savoy proper). So there was no clear transition to absolute rule, as there was no state-wide representative assembly to discontinue.

In 1669 a Savoyard attempt to take Geneva (escalade) was foiled by the intervention of Louis XIV. Duke Charles Emmanuel II. had the traffic routes in his mountaineous country improved; at the Mt. Cenis pass a route of stairs was hewn into the rock. Good roads through Savoy-Piemont attracted additional traffic and thus added to the ducal revenue from customs tariffs.
From 1683 to 1699 Prince Eugene of Savoy was in command of the Austrian forces during the Habsburg-Ottoman War. Savoy herself, at that time, was exposed to the dominant presence of French power - France had annexed the hitherto Spanish Franche Comte in 1678, occupied Casale in northern Italy in 1681. Jeanne de Nemours, regent of Savoy, had little choice but to pursue a policy favourable to France; her son Victor Amadeus II. continued that policy. In 1686, the year following the cancellation of the Edict of Nantes, Louis XIV. decided to cleanse the Alps valleys of France and parts of adjacent Savoy of protestants, a policy to which Victor Amadeus agreed, with the consequence that protestant Waldensian (Valdesi, Vaudois) villagers lost their farms and were sent into exile.
In 1690, when France demanded Savoy to declare war on Spain, Victor Amadeus declared war on France, joining the Grand Alliance (War of the Grand Alliance, 1689-1697). The Duke and his troops were handed a complete defeat by the French on Aug. 18th 1680 near the Abbey of Staffarde. All of Savoy-Piemont surrendered except Montmelian; the fortress surrendered to the French in Dec. 1691; the French had lost 7-8,000 soldiers. The Treaty of Turin, Aug. 29th 1696, ended the war for Savoy. France ceded Pinerolo to Savoy; the French denounced their claim on Casale, rased the town's fortifications; Savoy proper was evacuated by the French occupation force.
In 1700, King Charles II. of Spain died; according to his testament, Philippe V., Duke of Anjou (a Bourbon, supported by Louis XV.) was to inherit Spain, Naples and Milan; this meant that Savoy would be almost encircled by Bourbon territory. Early in the War of Spanish Succession Victor Amadeus II. stuck to the French alliance. However when Savoyard troops stationed in France were disarmed by the French (1702), the duke was humiliated and in late 1703 / January 1704 he joined France's enemies. Savoyan land suffered occupation, her fortresses siege, until Austrian and English troops liberated the country (1706). The French, however, had razed the fortifications of Montmelian and Nice. In the Treaty of Utrecht 1713, France ceded Barcelonette and Exilles/Fenestrelle to Savoy; Spain ceded Milan to Austria. The threat of a Bourbon encirclement of Savoy was averted. Spain also ceded Sicily to Savoy. The County of Montferrat had been annexed by Savoy in 1708. In 1718/1720, Sicily was ceded to Austria in exchange for Sardinia; a bad deal from an economical standpoint. But Victor Amadeus was elevated to King of Sardinia. The King, however, continued to reside in Turin in Piemont, not on Sardinia.
In the two decades following the War of Spanish Succession, Victor Amadeus established a standing army and promoted the latter to a degree described as the "militarization of his country" (Menabrea p.195). He had the titles/claims of the nobility revised; a 1720 edict redefined the status of nobles, in order to turn them into a class of public servants. Victor Amadeus II. forbade the publication of the papal bull Unigenitus, which condemned Jansenist positions. In 1723 the Royal Constitutions were passed, regulating religion, the competences and duties of magistrates, civil and criminal law, feudal rights, seignorial jurisdiction, the mines, roads, forests etc. Other edicts were to improve public hygiene. One of the objects of the reforms was standardization of jurisdiction and administration (thus overcoming territorial traditions as safeguarded in privileges). Jurisdiction was based on Roman law, except in the Duchy of Aosta, in the Milanese territory and on Sardinia. In 1728 the Land Survey was begun. In 1730 Victor Amadeus abdicated in favour of his son Charles Emmanuel III. An attempt to intrigue against his own son in 1732 resulted in his arrest; Victor Amadeus died soon afterward in prison.

Regiment of infantry of national ordinance Piemont 1636-1798, from NPI
Anno 1703 : Il Savoia ci Ripensa - Cambiabandiera, from Cronologia, in Italian
Anno 1705 : Il Savoia Assediati a Torino dagli ex Amici Francesi, from Cronologia, in Italian
Anno 1706 : L'Assedio di Torino - Pietro Micca, from Cronologia, in Italian
Anno 1707 : I Vari Cambiabandiera dei Savoia, from Cronologia, in Italian
Anno 1717 : I Savoia Sperano, from Cronologia, in Italian
Anno 1720 : Savoia - Nasce il Regno di Sardegna, from Cronologia, in Italian
Storia di Torino, dal Regno di Sardegna, all'Unita d'Italia, from a-torino.com, in Italian
Donne nella Storia (Women in History), from Italia Donna, scroll down for Stato Sabaudo; has six clickable Italian-language biographies
I Savoia, illustrated biographies of Dukes / Kings of the house of Savoy, in Italian
Lo Stato Sabaudo, from Olevano, tra realta e leggenda, in Italian
DOCUMENTS Coat of Arms, from International Civic Heraldry
World Statesmen : Italian States 1760-1860, by Ben Cahoon, scroll down for Sardinia; Regnal Chronologies : Northern Italy, scroll down for Piedmont, Savoy
George Chalmers: [A] collection of treaties between Great Britain and other powers. (London 1790): vol. 2 : English treaties with Sardinia
1669. The Treaty of Friendship and COMMERCE at Florence, pp.309ff
REFERENCE Book Reviews : Savoy-Piemont, from History Book Reviews

The 18th Century : the Era of Enlightened Reforms, in : Christopher Duggan, A Concise History of Italy, Cambridge : Cambridge Univ. Pr. 1994, pp.75-86
Henri Menabrea, Histoire de la Savoie (History of Savoy), Les Marches : Curandera 1990. 399 pp. (in French) [G]
M. le Gallais, Histoire de la Savoie et du Piemont (History of Savoy and Piemont), new edition, Tours : Alfred Mame 1879, 237 pp.; in French [G]
Anna Maria Rao, Enlightenment and Reform, pp.229-252 in : Early Modern Italy (Short Oxford History of Italy), Oxford : UP 2002 [G]
Robert Oresko, Maria Giovanna Battista of Savoy-Nemours (1644-1724) : Daughter, Consort and Regent of Savoy, pp.16-55, in : Clarissa Campbell Orr (ed.), Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815. The Role of the Consort, Cambridge : UP 2004, KMLA Lib.Sign. 940.09 076q

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on March 25th 2006

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