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For the two French départements of the region of Savoy, see Savoiemarker and Haute-Savoiemarker
Savoy ( , ; ) is a region of Europe on the western flank of the Alps that emerged following the collapse of the Frankish Kingdom of Burgundy. The historical land of Savoy is shared between the modern republics of Francemarker and Italymarker.


Installed by Rudolph III, King of Burgundy, officially in 1003, the House of Savoy became the longest surviving royal house in Europe. It ruled the County of Savoy to 1416 and then the Duchy of Savoy from 1416 to 1714. The County and Duchy of Savoy incorporated Turinmarker and other territories in Piedmont, a region in north western Italy that borders Savoy, which were also possessions of the House of Savoy. The capital of the Duchy remained at the traditional Savoyard capital of Chambérymarker until 1563, when it was moved to Turin. In the 18th century, the Duchy of Savoy was linked with the Kingdom of Sardinia. While the heads of the House of Savoy were known as the Kings of Sardinia, Turin remained their capital. The original territory of Savoy was absorbed into Francemarker in 1860, as part of the political agreement with Napoleon III that brought about the unification of Italy, but the House of Savoy retained its Italian lands and its heads became the Kings of Italy.

In modern France, Savoy is part of the Rhône-Alpes region. Following its annexation to France in 1860, the territory of Savoy was divided administratively into two separate départements, Savoiemarker and Haute-Savoiemarker. The modern separatist / regionalist movements are discussed in the "Annexation and Opposition" section in this article.

The traditional capital remains Chambérymarker (Chiamberì), on the rivers Leyssemarker and Albane, hosting the castle of the House of Savoy and the Savoyard senate. The state included six districts:


The region was once part of the Roman Empire, having previously been occupied by the Celtic Allobroges people The name Savoy stems from the Late Latin Sapaudia, referring to a fir forest. It is first recorded in Ammianus Marcellinus (354), to describe the southern part of Maxima Sequanorum According to the Gallic Chronicle of 452, it was separated from the rest of Burgundian territories in 443, after the Burgundian defeat by Aetius.

Later it became part of the Kingdom of the Franks. The first embodiment of Savoy in the modern sense was created out of a fragment of Middle Francia, the central of the three kingdoms into which the Frankish Empire was divided by the Treaty of Verdun (843). Savoy was part of Lotharingia, then part of the Kingdom of Burgundy (also known as the Kingdom of Arlesmarker). The County of Savoy was detached from the Kingdom of Arles by emperor Charles IV in 1361. In 1388, the County of Nice was acquired, and in 1401 the County of Genevois (the area of Genevamarker except for the city proper).On February 19, 1416, Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor, made the County of Savoy an independent duchy, with Amédée VIII as the first duke. In 1563 Emmanuel Philibert moved capital from Chambérymarker to Turinmarker, which was less vulnerable to French interference.

In 1714, as a consequence of the War of the Spanish Succession, Savoy was technically subsumed into the Kingdom of Sicily, then (after that island was traded to Austriamarker for Sardinia) the Kingdom of Sardinia from 1720.

French occupation

Savoy was occupied by French revolutionary forces between 1792 and 1815. The region was first added to the département of Mont-Blancmarker, then in 1798 was divided between the départements of Mont-Blanc and Lémanmarker (French name of Lake Geneva.)

On September 13, 1793 the combined forces of Savoy, Piedmont and Valdot fought against and lost to the occupying French forces at the Battle of Méribel (Sallanches).

Savoy, along with Piedmont and Nicemarker were restored to the Kingdom of Sardinia at the Congress of Vienna in 1814-1815.

Annexation and opposition

The Château de Chambéry, seat of government, was given a grand new façade following annexation

From 1815 until 1860 Savoy was again part of the Italian Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont, but during the wars of independence of Italy Camillo Cavour obtained the needed French help thanks to the "gift" (with referendum) of the areas of Savoy and Nice to Napoleon III.

Savoy was annexed by France on March 24, 1860 according to the provisions of the Treaty of Turin. The treaty was followed on April 22/23 by a plebiscite in which voters were offered the option of approving the treaty and joining Francemarker or rejecting the treaty under certain conditions; the disallowed options of either joining Switzerlandmarker (with which the region had close ties), remaining with Italymarker, or regaining its independence, were the source of some opposition. With a 99.8% vote in favour of joining France, there were allegations of vote-rigging.

Some opposition to French rule was manifest when, in 1919, France officially (but contrary to the annexation treaty) ended the military neutrality of the parts of the country of Savoy that had originally been agreed to at the Congress of Vienna, and also eliminated the free trade zone - both treaty articles having been broken unofficially in World War I. France was condemned in 1932 by the international court for noncompliance with the measures of the treaty of Turin, regarding the countries of Savoy and Nice.

There is currently a peaceful separatist movement in the départements, as well as a faction in favour of greater regional powers. The Mouvement Région Savoie (Savoy Regional Movement) was founded in December 1971 as a 'movement' (rather than a traditional political party) in favour of regional autonomy. In the 1996 local elections, the Savoie Regional Movement received 19,434 votes. In the March 1998 regional elections, 1 seat (out of 23) was won by Patrice Abeille, leader of the Ligue Savoisienne (Savoie League, founded 1994), which had set up a 'provisional Savoie government' two years earlier. This group base its actions on the decline of the annexation treaty. The League gathered a total of 17,865 votes across the two départements. In the same elections, a further 4,849 voted in favour of the Savoie Movement.

As a result of the regional debate sparked by the political advances, the non-party organisation, La Région Savoie, j’y crois ! (I believe in the Savoy Region!), was founded in 1998. The organisation campaigns for the replacement of the Savoie and Haute-Savoie départements with a regional government, separate from the Rhône-Alpes region, with greater devolved powers. According to surveys conducted in 2000, between 41% and 55% of the population were in favour of the proposal, while 19% to 23% were in favour of separation from France.

In 2004, Waiting for freedom in Savoy [4711] was founded to promote the peaceful separatist cause to young people.

Towards the end of 2005, Hervé Gaymard called for Savoie to be given special status, similar to a French region, under his proposed 'Conseil des Pays de Savoie'.


  1. Modern French sapin; sapinière signifies "fir forest".
  2. The territory, which has no modern counterpart, was perhaps bounded by the rivers Ain and Rhône, Lac Léman, the Jura and the Aar, though historians differ, and there seems to be insufficient evidence: see Norman H. Baynes, reviewing A. Coville, Recherches sur l'Histoire de Lyon du Ve au IXe Siècle (450-800) in The English Historical Review 45 No. 179 (July 1930:470-474) p 471.
  3. Sapaudia Burgundionum reliquiis datur cum indigenis dividenda. (in T. Mommsen, Chronica Minora II:660, 128.
  4. The long drawn out collapse of Middle Francia, and the disputation of its former territories by more powerful neighbours such as France (originally West Francia), is one of the main dynamics of Western European history.
  5. The Times, April 28 1860, Universal Suffrage In Savoy
  6. Région Savoie.

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