County of Savoy

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County of Savoy

Konigsbanner 14Jh.svg
Imperial Banner
(was used by the first counts to prove loyalty to the Emperor)
Arms of the House of Savoy.svg
Coat of arms
County of Savoy locator map (1250).svg
The County of Savoy and its possessions (  red) within the Holy Roman Empire around the middle of the 13th century. The   cream area highlights the rest of the Kingdom of Burgundy. Note that some of Savoy's possessions lie outside of that kingdom (instead being part of the Kingdom of Italy). Savoy proper is the westernmost of the territories. The unmarked territory directly to the north-west of Savoy proper, Bresse, was acquired in 1272.
Status State of the Holy Roman Empire
(from 1032 or 1313)a
Core country of the Savoyard state
Capital Chambéry (from 1295)
Count of Savoy  
Humbert I White Hands
Amadeus VIII (Anti-Pope Felix V)
Historical era High Middle Ages
 Inherited March of Turin
 Acquired County of Nice
 Acquired County of Geneva
 Raised to duchy by Sigismund
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Coat of arms of None.svg Kingdom of Burgundy-Arles
Duchy of Savoy Flag of Savoie.svg
  1. The Kingdom of Burgundy, 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 in the 11th century. It was the cradle of the future Savoyard state.



Early Coat of arms of the Counts of Savoy Armoiries Savoie Ancien.svg
Early Coat of arms of the Counts of Savoy

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

Humbert the White-Handed was raised to count by the last king of Burgundy, Rudolph III, in 1003. He backed the inheritance claims of Emperor Henry II and in turn was permitted to usurp the county of Aosta from its bishops at the death of Anselm. Following his support of Conrad II in annexing Arles upon Rudolph's death and suppressing the revolts of Count Odo and Bishop Burchard, he also received the county of Maurienne (formerly held by the archbishops of Vienne) and territories in Chablais and Tarentaise, formerly held by its archbishops at Moûtiers.

While the Arelat remained a titular kingdom of the Holy Roman Empire, Humbert's descendants—later known as the House of Savoy—maintained their independence as counts. In 1046, his younger son Otto married Adelaide, daughter of Ulric Manfred II, marquis of Susa. When she inherited her father's lands in preference to other, male, relatives, [note 1] he thereby acquired control of the extensive March of Turin. This was then united with Savoy upon his inheritance from his elder brother.

Chambery Castle Chambery palac savojskych vevodu.JPG
Chambéry Castle

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 Emperor Henry VII. What was left of the Kingdom of Burgundy effectively ceased to be entirely under the authority of the emperor after the Dauphiné had passed to the future King Charles V of France in 1349 and Amadeus VI of Savoy was appointed Imperial vicar of Arelat by Emperor Charles IV in 1365.

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

Counts of Savoy

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

See also


  1. One of whom may have been Gundulph, the father of St Anselm.

Related Research Articles

Humbert I, better known as Humbert the White-Handed or Humbert Whitehand was the founder of the House of Savoy. Of obscure origins, his service to the German emperors Henry II and Conrad II was rewarded with the counties of Maurienne and Aosta and lands in Valais, all at the expense of local bishops and archbishops; the territory came to be known as the county of Savoy.

Otto was count of Savoy from around 1051 until his death. Through marriage to Adelaide, the heiress of Ulric Manfred II, he also administered the march of Susa from around 1046 until his death.

Amadeus II was the count of Savoy from 1078 to 1080. His life is obscure and few documents mention him. During his rule he was overshadowed by his mother, but he had good relations with the Papacy and, for a time, the Holy Roman Emperor.

Amadeus III of Savoy was Count of Savoy and Maurienne from 1103 until his death. He was also known as a crusader.

Thomas Ι was Count of Savoy from 1189 to 1233. He is sometimes numbered "Thomas I" to distinguish him from his son of the same name, who governed Savoy but was not count.

Amadeus IV was Count of Savoy from 1233 to 1253.

Peter II, Count of Savoy

Peter II, called the Little Charlemagne, held the Honour of Richmond, Yorkshire, England from April 1240 until his death and was Count of Savoy from 1263 until his death. He built the Savoy Palace in London.

Amadeus V, Count of Savoy

Amadeus V, surnamed the Great for his wisdom and success as a ruler, was the Count of Savoy from 1285 to 1323. He established Chambéry as his seat. He was the son of Thomas II of Savoy and Beatrice Fieschi.

House of Savoy Noble family

The House of Savoy is a royal dynasty that was established in 1003 in the historical Savoy region. Through gradual expansion, the family grew in power from ruling a small Alpine county north-west of Italy to absolute rule of the Kingdom of Sicily from 1713 to 1720, when they were handed the island of Sardinia, over which they would exercise direct rule from then onward.

County of Burgundy Medieval county of the Holy Roman Empire (982-1678)

The Free County of Burgundy or Franche-Comté, was a medieval county of the Holy Roman Empire, predecessor to the modern region of Franche-Comté. The name franc(he) comté derives from the title of its count, franc comte, in German Freigraf 'free count', denoting imperial immediacy. It should not be confused with the more westerly Duchy of Burgundy, a fiefdom of France since 843.

Rudolph III of Burgundy King of Burgundy

Rudolph III was King of Burgundy from 993 until his death. He was the last ruler of an independent Kingdom of Burgundy, and the last male member of the Burgundian group of the Elder House of Welf.

Kingdom of Arles

The Kingdom of Burgundy, known from the 12th century as Kingdom of Arles, also referred to in various context as Arelat, Kingdom of Arles and Vienne, or Kingdom of Burgundy-Provence, was a realm established in 933 by the merger of the kingdoms of Upper and Lower Burgundy under King Rudolf II. It was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire in 1033 and from then on was one of the empire's three constituent realms, together with the Kingdom of Germany and the Kingdom of Italy. By the mid-13th century at the latest, however, it had lost its concrete political relevance.

Upper Burgundy Frankish kingdom from 888 to 933

The Kingdom of Upper Burgundy was a Frankish dominion established in 888 by the Welf king Rudolph I of Burgundy on the territory of former Middle Francia. It grew out of the Carolingian margraviate of Transjurane Burgundy southeast of ('beyond') the Jura Mountains together with the adjacent County of Burgundy (Franche-Comté) in the northwest. The adjective 'upper' refers to its location further up the Rhône river, as distinct from Lower Burgundy and also from the Duchy of Burgundy west of the Saône river. Upper Burgundy was reunited with the Kingdom of Lower Burgundy in 933 to form the Kingdom of Burgundy, later known as Kingdom of Arles or Arelat.

County of Geneva

The County of Geneva, largely corresponding to the later Genevois province, originated in the tenth century, in the Burgundian Kingdom of Arles (Arelat) which fell to the Holy Roman Empire in 1032.


Sapaudia or Sabaudia was an Alpine territory of late antiquity and the Dark Ages.

Amadeus VIII, Duke of Savoy

Amadeus VIII was a Savoyard nobleman, the son of Amadeus VII, Count of Savoy and Bonne of Berry. He was nicknamed the Peaceful. After the death of his father in 1391, his mother acted as a regent, because of his youth. He was a claimant to the papacy from 1439 to 1449 as Felix V in opposition to Eugene IV and Nicholas V, and is considered the last historical antipope.

Amadeus III of Geneva

Amadeus III was the Count of Geneva from 1320 until his death. He ruled the Genevois, but not the city of Geneva proper, and it was during his time that the term "Genevois" came to be used as it is today. He was the eldest son and successor of William III and Agnes, daughter of Amadeus V of Savoy. He played a major rôle in the politics of the House of Savoy, serving consecutively as regent and president of the council, and also sitting on the feudal tribunal—one of three tribunals of the Audiences générales—of the Duchy of Aosta.

Burchard was the archbishop of Vienne from 1001 until his death. He was also the count of the Viennois from 1023, the first bishop of Vienne to hold secular power in the county simultaneously.


Further reading