Savoy 1660-1730 History of Italy French Satellite
1798 - 1802

The Duchy of Savoy-Piemont 1730-1797

Early in the War of Polish Succession (1733-1738), Savoy-Piemont-Sardinia signed an alliance with France (Sept. 1733); the Sardinian army was victorious in the Battle of Guastalla. The Sardinian objective was to gain Milan from Austria; however, in the Treaty of Vienna (March 1738), Savoy-Piemont-Sardinia gained only the western stretches of the Duchy of Milan - Novara and Tortone.
In 1740 Emperor Charles VI. died, succeeded by his daughter Maria Theresia, a succession which, in violation with Salic law, had been accepted by most European powers in treaties summarily referred to as the Pragmatic Sanction (since 1713). Yet when the event happened, Maria Theresia found herself challenged by a large number of foes hoping to acquire parts of the Habsburg inheritance (War of Austrian Succession). Savoy's prime minister D'Ormea, assuming that Britain would enter the war and that Prussia would sign a peace once her objective was achieved, convinced Charles Emmanuel III. to sign an Austrian alliance (Febr. 1742), which meant that Savoy-Sardinia faced an immediate threat by French, Genoese and Spanish forces. Spanish troops invaded Savoy-Piemont, but failed to take Cuneo by siege. The Spanish temporarily occupied Milan, but were defeated in the Battle of Piacenza and the Battle of Rottofreno (both 1746); in 1747 the Savoyard army defeated an invading French force at Colle Dell'Assietta. Despite all suffering Savoy-Sardinia had undergone and despite all her effort, she made only minor territorial gains (concessions by Austria) in the Treaty of Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle, 1748).
Treaties were signed with Geneva (1754), France (1760), precisely fixing the mutual borders. Regarding the relations with the holy see, Charles Emmanuel passed a decree stipulating that bishops were to publish papal decisions only with royal approval. While he regarded this necessary to protect his sovereignty, the popes regarded Savoy-Sardinia as hostile to the church.
Charles Emmanuel III. (1730-1773), in order to finance his ambitious expansionist policy, had to raise state revenue. This meant the establishment of an efficient bureaucracy. The administration undertook measures to strengthen the state and it's economy, such as establishing protective tariffs, promoting industries, improving agricultural production, improving the roads. A Land Survey had already begun in 1728. Concordates with the pope were signed in 1727 and 1740. The court at Turin lacked the splendour of Versailles and Vienna; "in Turin, piety was fashion" (Menabrea p.217).
Charles Emmanuel changed the status of those royal/ducal lands which were inalienable to ordinary lands, and he arranged for the inalienable lands held by nobles to be bought back (1761). In 1771 he had the land sold off, an opportunity grasped by many free or freed peasants. The various feudal services, to which the peasants were obliged, and which provided a significant source of the nobles' wealth, were terminated; the nobles were compensated by a one-time payment. A bank was established to provide the communities with loans so that they could pay off the feudal services. By 1778, feudalism had been abolished.
Savoy, because of the early period in which these reforms were implemented, became one of Italy's most flourishing and modern regions. The other half of the Dynastic Union, the Kingdom of Sardinia, however, was to be found on the opposing end of the scale - the most backward region of Italy, due to the fact that the Savoyan administration did not focus on Sardinia, the country was hardly urbanized and very traditional.
Duke Victor Amadeus III. (1773-1796) in 1779 succeeded in having Savoy, as Diocesis of Chambery, being detached from the Diocesis of Grenoble.
The French Revolution had an impact on Savoy-Piemont, most notably on French speaking Savoy. Revolutionary propaganda was spread by a group called the Libelles. At Annecy-le-Vieux and at Rumilly, peasants, after having been refused passage through their lands, by noblemen, for religious processions, rioted. French refugees arrived. The authorities arrested suspicious persons, among them a Jacobin, for having sung "ca ira, ca ira". The publication Premier Cri de la Savoie vers la Liberte, accredited to a Swiss revolutionary, called for the assembly of Savoyard General Estates. On August 27th 1791, Savoy-Piemont-Sardinia joined the Coalition of Pillnitz (including the Emperor, the King of Prussia and the French emigres), directed against the French Republic. French troops invaded Savoy (Sept. 4th 1792, General Montesquiou). In French-occupied Savoy proper, a National Assembly of the Allobroges was formed, the territory incorporated into France as the Departement du Mont Blanc, the equally annexed territory of Nizza as the Departement du Alpes Maritimes.
Piemont, beyond the Alps, continued to exist; it soon became battlefield in the Wars of the Coalitions.
In the 1770es ans 1780es, Vittorio Alfieri was a celebrated writer; he published tragedies on topics of Greek history and mythology. In 1783 King Victor Amadeus III. elevated the Turin Academy of Sciences, founded as a private institution in 1757, to the status of a royal academy. Among its most eminent members in the 18th century was the mathematician Lagrange, born of French parents in Turin in 1736.

Regiment of infantry of national ordinance Piemont 1636-1798, from NPI
Anno 1730 : Sale sul Trono dei Savoia, Carlo Emanuele III, from Cronologia, in Italian
Anno 1733 : I Savoia Cambiano Alleato; Carlo Emanuele III a Milano, from Cronologia, in Italian
Anno 1734 : Italia - gli Austriaci in Fuga, from Cronologia, in Italian
Anno 1735 : La 2da delusione Savoia, from Cronologia, in Italian
Anno 1739 : I Savoia sono Scontenti, from Cronologia, in Italian
Anno 1742 : I Savoia cambiano "Bandiera", from Cronologia, in Italian
Anno 1743 : I Savoia Inconcludenti, from Cronologia, in Italian
Anno 1744 : L'Assedio di Cuneo, from Cronologia, in Italian
Anno 1747 : I Savoia, con Bricherasio Vincente, from Cronologia, in Italian
Anno 1773 : Vittorio Amedeo Re di Sardegna, from Cronologia, in Italian
Storia di Torino, dal Regno di Sardegna, all'Unita d'Italia, from, 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
Biography of Vittorio Alfieri, from Infoplease
Italian Academy of Sciences, from IAA Website
DOCUMENTS Map : major Italian States in 1748, from Modern Italy at Dickinson College; has numerous flaws
Map : La Savoie, le Piemont, le Mont-Ferrat, et la Republique de Genes, avec les Duches de Milan et de Parme, from Bonne, Atlas Encyclopedique, 1787-1788, low resolution
1743, Treaty of Worms, pp.321ff
Decet quam Maxime, Encyclical by Pope Clement XIV, Sept. 21st 1769, to the bishops of Sardinia, posted by EWTN
Medal : Victor Amadeus II, King of Sardinia, 1745, from Medal Web, Collection Benjamin Weiss
Medal : Charles Emmanuel III, King of Sardinia, 1737, from VICTOR AMADEUS II-BW045.htm">Medal Web, Collection Benjamin Weiss
Article Savoyische Länder, from Zedlers Universallexikon (1730es), posted by Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, in German, 18th century font
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)
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
Anna Maria Rao, Enlightenment and Reform, pp.229-252 in Early Modern Italy (Short Oxford History of Italy), Oxford : UP 2002

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

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