Peter II, Count of Savoy

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Peter II
Count of Savoy
Peter II of Savoy.png
Peter's funerary monument [1]
Predecessor Boniface
Successor Philip I
Born 1203
Died 15 May 1268
Noble family Savoy
Spouse(s) Agnes of Faucigny
Father Thomas, Count of Savoy
Mother Margaret of Geneva

Peter II (1203 15 May 1268), called the Little Charlemagne, held the Honour of Richmond, Yorkshire (but not the Earldom) from April 1240 until his death and was Count of Savoy from 1263 until his death. He built the Savoy Palace in London.

Savoy Palace the residence of John of Gaunt until it was destroyed in the Peasants Revolt of 1381

The Savoy Palace, considered the grandest nobleman's townhouse of medieval London, was the residence of John of Gaunt until it was destroyed in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381. It lay between the Strand and the River Thames – the present Savoy Theatre and Savoy Hotel were named in its memory. In the locality of the palace the administration of law was by a special jurisdiction apart from the rest of the county of Middlesex, known as the Liberty of the Savoy.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.



Early Alpine Career

Peter was the seventh of nine sons of Thomas I of Savoy and Margaret of Geneva, and the uncle of the English queen Eleanor of Provence. He was born in Suze in the County of Albon. As a younger son of a noble house, Peter's father started his career in the church, getting him an appointment as a canon at Lausanne, where he worked his way up to acting bishop before a new permanent bishop came in 1231. [2] At that point, Peter had already been growing restless with church life. Upon the death of his father, Peter demanded substantial portions of the County from his eldest brother Amadeus. The brothers all got together in 1234 at Chillon, where they negotiated a settlement which recognized Amadeus as the head of the house. From this, Peter received control of key castles which helped him to expand his control in the area of Geneva. His brother William negotiated a marriage for him with Agnes of Faucigny, which also helped provide territory of his own, so he caused less trouble for his elder brothers. [3]

Margaret of Geneva Countess consort of Savoy

Margaret of Geneva (1180?-1252), countess of Savoy, was the daughter of William I, Count of Geneva, and Beatrice de Faucigny (1160-1196).

Eleanor of Provence 13th-century French noblewoman and Queen of England

Eleanor of Provence was Queen consort of England, as the spouse of King Henry III of England, from 1236 until his death in 1272. She served as regent of England during the absence of her spouse in 1253.

Suze, Drôme Commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Suze is a commune in the Drôme department in southeastern France in the foothills of the Alps, its buildings are in a steeply-sloped village above a small tributary feeding into the Drôme which runs from the east into the Rhône.

His desire to further extend his territory led him into conflict with his uncle, William II of Geneva. Around 1236, Peter was ambushed and captured by his cousin Rudolf. When the resulting conflict was concluded in 1237, Amadeus forced William to sign a treaty which required Geneva to pay 20,000 marks and the castle of Arlod. [4] In 1240, when Peter's brother Philip was in a contested election for the Bishop of Lausanne against Jean de Cossonay, a Geneva supported candidate, Peter brought 6000 troops, though the battle did not get resolved decisively. [5]

William II was the Count of Geneva, originally a usurper, from 1225 until his death. He fought a long series of wars with the House of Savoy and lost control of all of his county outside of the traditional Genevois and saw his influence over the city of Geneva proper and the Bishop of Geneva severely reduced.

Rudolf of Geneva Count of Geneva and military commander

Rudolf or Rudolph was the Count of Geneva from 1252 until his death in 1265. He was the eldest son of William II, and was described by a Renaissance historian as “the more quarrelsome son of a quarrelsome father.” He was a constant warrior, and his most frequent foes were of the House of Savoy.

Philip I, Count of Savoy Count of Savoy

Philip I was the Count of Savoy from 1268 to 1285. Before this, he was the Bishop of Valence (1241–1267), Dean of Vienne, Isère (1241–1267) and Archbishop of Lyon (1245–1267).

He continued to use both money and force to take further control of lands surrounding Savoy. In May 1244 Rudolph III, Count of Gruyère, surrendered Gruyères Castle to Peter, who then gave it to William, the second son of Rudolph, with the agreement that William and his heirs would serve Peter and his family. [6] On 29 May 1244 Cossonay similarly surrendered significant territories to Peter and Amadeus, retaining them only under the overlordship of Savoy. He continued to gain control of key towns and trade routes throughout the Pays de Vaud, often by enfeofing them to the younger sons of the previous rulers. [7] He was responsible for the significant renovations of the Château de Chillon, and by 1253 he was the protector of Bern. [8] One scholar suggests that French is the language of western Switzerland due partly to Peter's extensive conquests in the region. [9]

Gruyères Castle

The Castle of Gruyères, located in the medieval town of Gruyères, Fribourg, is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It is a Swiss heritage site of national significance.

Bern Place in Switzerland

Bern or Berne is the de facto capital of Switzerland, referred to by the Swiss as their "federal city", in German Bundesstadt, French ville fédérale, and Italian città federale. With a population of about 140,000, Bern is the fifth-most populous city in Switzerland. The Bern agglomeration, which includes 36 municipalities, had a population of 406,900 in 2014. The metropolitan area had a population of 660,000 in 2000. Bern is also the capital of the canton of Bern, the second-most populous of Switzerland's cantons.

Switzerland federal republic in Central Europe

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a country situated in western, central, and southern Europe. It consists of 26 cantons, and the city of Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The sovereign state is a federal republic bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is a landlocked country geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning a total area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8.5 million people is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities are to be found: among them are the two global cities and economic centres Zürich and Geneva.

English career

In January 1236, Eleanor of Provence, Peter's niece, married King Henry III. On 20 April 1240 Peter was given the Honour of Richmond by Henry III who invited him to England about the end of the year, and knighted him on 5 January 1241 when he became known popularly as Earl of Richmond although he never assumed the title, nor was it ever given to him in official documents. [10] In February 1246 he was granted land between the Strand and the Thames, [11] where Peter built the Savoy Palace in 1263, on the site of the present Savoy Hotel. It was destroyed during the Peasants' Revolt of 1381. By his will, the Honour of Richmond was left to his niece queen Eleanor, who transferred it to the crown. [12]

The Honour of Richmond in north-west Yorkshire was granted to Count Alan Rufus by King William the Conqueror sometime during 1069 to 1071, although the date is uncertain. It was gifted as thanks for his services at the Conquest. The extensive district was previously held by Edwin, Earl of Mercia who died in 1071. The district is probably mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 but its limits are uncertain.

Strand, London major thoroughfare in the City of Westminster, London, England

Strand is a major thoroughfare in the City of Westminster, Central London. It runs just over 34 mile (1,200 m) from Trafalgar Square eastwards to Temple Bar, where the road becomes Fleet Street inside the City of London, and is part of the A4, a main road running west from inner London.

Savoy Hotel hotel in London, UK

The Savoy is a luxury hotel located in the Strand in the City of Westminster in central London, England. Built by the impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte with profits from his Gilbert and Sullivan opera productions, it opened on 6 August 1889. It was the first in the Savoy group of hotels and restaurants owned by Carte's family for over a century. The Savoy was the first luxury hotel in Britain, introducing electric lights throughout the building, electric lifts, bathrooms in most of the lavishly furnished rooms, constant hot and cold running water and many other innovations. Carte hired César Ritz as manager and Auguste Escoffier as chef de cuisine; they established an unprecedented standard of quality in hotel service, entertainment and elegant dining, attracting royalty and other rich and powerful guests and diners.

In 1241, Henry sent Peter to gather support for a pending invasion of Poitou. He travelled to Hugh IV, Duke of Burgundy; Theobald I of Navarre; his brother Amadeus IV, Count of Savoy; and his brother-in-law Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Provence. In February 1242, Peter was sent into Poitou to see what support existed there for Henry. He was nearly captured there, but managed to escape. He then travelled to Provence to negotiate the marriage of his niece Sanchia of Provence to Henry's brother Richard. [13]

Poitou Place in France

Poitou, in Poitevin: Poetou, was a province of west-central France whose capital city was Poitiers.

Hugh IV, Duke of Burgundy Duke of Burgundy

Hugh IV of Burgundy was Duke of Burgundy between 1218 and 1272. Hugh was the son of Odo III, Duke of Burgundy and Alice de Vergy.

Theobald I of Navarre King of Navarre from 1234 to 1253

Theobald I, also called the Troubadour and the Posthumous, was Count of Champagne from birth and King of Navarre from 1234. He initiated the Barons' Crusade, was famous as a trouvère, and was the first Frenchman to rule Navarre.

In 1246, Peter went back to Savoy, in part to seal a marriage deal with Amadeus. In February 1247, he returned to England with Alice of Saluzzo, Amadeus's granddaughter by Beatrice. She was married to Edmund de Lacy, Baron of Pontefract that May. [14]

Boston (a borough by 1279), on the river Witham, had over many years become an important port for Lincoln. The town was held by the Dukes of Brittany until about 1200. In 1241, Peter obtained the manor of Boston at the same time as he had Richmond. It was restored to John I, Duke of Brittany, on Peter's death. Donington manor is also thought to have been passed from John de la Rye to Peter of Savoy about 1255, when a charter was granted for a market to be held at the manor on Saturdays. In the same year, a similar grant was made for the holding of a fair on 15 August, also to be held at the manor. A separate charter was granted to Peter on 8 April 1255 by the king to hold a market on Mondays.

The walls of the inner ward at Pevensey Castle are typically attributed to Peter of Savoy's tenure Pevensey Castle inner bailey exterior.jpg
The walls of the inner ward at Pevensey Castle are typically attributed to Peter of Savoy's tenure

In 1246, the king granted Peter the castle of Pevensey. Peter sided with Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, in the Second Barons' War; but he eventually left England for France with the queen.

Count of Savoy

When Peter's nephew Boniface, Count of Savoy, died without heirs in 1263, the question of the succession to Savoy lay unanswered. Besides Peter, there was another possible claimant, the fifteen-year-old Thomas III of Piedmont (1248–82), the eldest son of Peter's elder brother Thomas, Count of Flanders. Peter returned to Savoy and was recognised as count over his nephew. This led to a dispute between Savoy and Piedmont that was to outlast Peter and Thomas.

Peter brought many ideas back from his travels around Europe to improve Savoy. He started building castles with a more round form, rather than the square which had existed to that point in Savoy. He divided the county into bailis and divided those into castellanies. He also established an office of accounts at Chambéry to more completely manage financial matters. He was the first count of Savoy to issue laws to cover the whole county. [15]

Peter came into conflict with Rudolf of Habsburg, and Rudolf occupied Peter's lands in the canton of Vaud, including the Château of Chillon. Peter returned from Piedmont in time to lead his troops in retaking the chateau and his lands in 1266.

Already elderly, Peter died without a male heir. Sources differ on the place of his death, some stating that he died in the Château de Chillon so closely associated with him, and others in Pierre-Châtel [16] in the present department of Isère. He was succeeded by his remaining brother, Philip, former Archbishop of Lyon.


Peter's marriage was to Agnes of Faucigny in 1236. [17] Agnes bore him a daughter, Beatrice, [lower-alpha 1] who inherited Faucigny from her mother, giving this territory in the middle of Savoy lands to the Dauphin, who were often opposed to Savoy. [18]

Peter had an illegitimate daughter, Isabelle, who married her cousin Pierre of Salinento, the illegitimate son of Amadeus IV, Count of Savoy.

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Bonne of Bourbon was a daughter of Peter I, Duke of Bourbon, and Isabella of Valois, and hence a sister of Joanna of Bourbon. She served as regent of Savoy during the absence of her spouse from 1366 to 1367, in 1383, and during the minority of her grandson Count Amadeus VIII in 1391.

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Beatrice of Savoy was the daughter of Thomas I of Savoy and Margaret of Geneva. She was Countess consort of Provence by her marriage to Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Provence.

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The Barony of Vaud was an appanage of the County of Savoy, corresponding roughly to the modern Canton of Vaud in Switzerland. It was created by a process of acquisition on the part of a younger brother of the reigning count beginning in 1234 and culminated in the formalisation of its relationship to the county in 1286. It was semi-independent state, capable of entering into relations with its sovereign, the Holy Roman Emperor, and of fighting alongside the French in the Hundred Years' War. It ceased to exist when it was bought by the count in 1359. It was then integrated into the Savoyard state, where the title Baron of Vaud remained a subsidiary title of the heads of the family at least as late as the reign of Charles Albert of Sardinia, although the territory of the barony was annexed by the Canton of Bern during the Protestant Reformation (1536).

Louis I was the Baron of Vaud. At the time of his birth he was a younger son of a younger son of the House of Savoy, but through a series of deaths and his own effective military service, he succeeded in creating a semi-independent principality in the pays de Vaud by 1286. He travelled widely in the highest circles of European nobility, obtained the right to mint coins from the Holy Roman Emperor, and convoked the first public assembly in the Piedmont to include members of the non-noble classes. When he died, his barony was inherited by his son.

Agnes of Faucigny was suo jure ruling Dame of Faucigny from 1253, as well as countess consort of Savoy by marriage to Peter II, Count of Savoy.

Beatrice of Savoy ruled as Lady of Faucigny, having succeeded her mother, Agnes of Faucigny. She was the only legitimate child of Peter II, Count of Savoy, but did not inherit the county, which passed instead to her uncle. Beatrice was also Dauphine of Viennois and Viscountess of Béarn by her two marriages.



  1. Beatrice would marry firstly Count Guigues VII of Viennois and secondly Viscount Gaston VII of Béarn.
  1. Kerrich, T. (1817). "XVII. Observations upon some Sepulchral Monuments in Italy and France". Archaeologia. 18: 186–196. doi:10.1017/S0261340900026126. ISSN   2051-3186.
  2. Cox 1974, p. 16.
  3. Cox 1974, p. 40-43.
  4. Cox 1974, p. 83-86.
  5. Cox 1974, p. 91.
  6. Wurstemberger 1858, vol.IV nos. 152, 174.
  7. Cox 1974, p. 165-167.
  8. Cox 1967, p. 20.
  9. Cox 1974, p. 82.
  10. Cokayne, George Edward (1945). The Complete Peerage, Vol. 10. The St. Catherine Press. p. 806.
  11. British Library 1916, p. 78.
  12. Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Richmond, Earls and Dukes of". Encyclopædia Britannica . 23 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 306.
  13. Cox 1974, p. 112-115.
  14. Cox 1974, p. 168-169.
  15. Cox 1967, p. 20-21.
  16. Genealogy of the House of Savoie Archived 21 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine .
  17. Pollock 2015, p. 208.
  18. Cox 1967, p. 21.
Peter II
Born: 1203 Died: 15 May 1268
Preceded by
Count of Savoy
Succeeded by
Philip I
Preceded by
The Lord de Segrove
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
Succeeded by
The Lord Cobham
Title last held by
Peter Mauclerc
Earl of Richmond
Succeeded by
John the Red