County of Savoy

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For the later history of Savoy, see Duchy of Savoy.
County of Savoy
State of the Holy Roman Empire
(from 1032 or 1313)a


Coat of arms

Savoy lands about 1200
Capital Chambéry (from 1295)
Government Principality
Count of Savoy
 -  1003–1048 Humbert I White Hands
 -  1391–1416 Amadeus VIII (Anti-Pope Felix V)
Historical era High Middle Ages
 -  Created by Rudolph III,
King of Burgundy
 -  Inherited March of Turin 1046
 -  Emp. Henry VII acknowledged Imperial immediacy 1331
 -  Acquired County of Nice 1388
 -  Acquired County of Geneva 1401
 -  Raised to duchy by Sigismund 1416
a. The Kingdom of Arles, to which the county owed suzerainty became a part of the Empire on King Rudolph III's death in 1032; the County of Savoy gained Imperial immediacy from Emperor Henry VII in 1331.

The County of Savoy (French: Comté de Savoie, Italian: Contea di Savoia) was a State of the Holy Roman Empire which emerged, along with the free communes of Switzerland, from the collapse of the Burgundian Kingdom of Arles in the 11th century.


See also: House of Savoy
Chambéry Castle

The Sapaudia lands south of Lake Geneva, stretching from the Rhône River to the Western Alps, had been part of Upper Burgundy (Bourgogne transjurane) ruled by the Bosonid duke Hucbert from the mid 9th century. Together with the neighouring Free County of Burgundy (Franche Comté) it became part of the larger Kingdom of Arles under King Rudolph II in 933.

Humbert I the White-Handed from the noble House of Savoy had received the comital title from the last King of Arles, Rudolph III of Burgundy in 1003. He backed the inheritance claims of Emperor Henry II and in turn gained lands in the Aosta Valley. Upon King Rudolph's death in 1032, Humbert immediately accepted the rule of Henry's successor, Emperor Conrad II. In turn, for his support in the conflict with Count Odo II of Blois, he received the northern Maurienne part of the County of Vienne, then a fief of the Vienne archbishops, as well as territories in the Chablais region and in the Tarentaise Valley, a fief of the Tarentaise archbishops at Moûtiers.

While the Arelat remained a titular kingdom of the Holy Roman Empire, Humbert's descendants maintained their independence as counts. His younger son Otto in 1046 married Adelaide of Susa, daughter of Ulric Manfred II, Margrave of Turin, and thereby acquired the adjacent Piedmontese lands of the Turin march (Susa).

The counts further enlarged their territory when, in 1218, they inherited the Vaud lands north of the Lake Geneva from the extinct House of Zähringen. In 1220, Count Thomas I occupied the towns of Pinerolo and Chambéry (Kamrach), which afterwards became the Savoy capital. In 1240, his younger son Peter II was invited to England by King Henry III, who had married Peter's niece Eleanor of Provence. He was appointed Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and Earl of Richmond and had the Savoy Palace erected at London.

In 1313, Count Amadeus V the Great officially gained the status of Imperial immediacy from the hands of Emperor Henry VII of Luxembourg. The superordinated Kingdom of Arles effectively ceased to exist, after the Dauphiné had passed to the French crown prince Charles V of Valois in 1349 and the "Green Count" Amadeus VI of Savoy was appointed Imperial vicar of Arelat by Emperor Charles IV of Luxembourg in 1365.

The "Red Count" Amadeus VII gained access to the Mediterranean Sea by the acquisition of the County of Nice in 1388, his son Amadeus VIII the Peaceful purchased the County of Geneva in 1401. The extended Savoy lands were finally raised to a duchy in 1416 by the German king Sigismund of Luxembourg (see Duchy of Savoy 1416–1718).

Counts of Savoy[edit]

In 1416 Amadeus VIII was raised to the status of Duke of Savoy.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Taylor, A.J. and Lewis is Savoy. "A Letter from Lewis of Savoy to Edward I" The English Historical Review, Vol. 68, No. 266 (Jan., 1953), 56–62 [1]