- For the two French départements
of the region of Savoy, see Savoie and
( , ; ) 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 France and Italy.
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.
and Duchy of Savoy incorporated Turin 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 Chambéry until 1563,
when it was moved to Turin.
In the 18th century, the Duchy
of Savoy was linked with the Kingdom
. While the heads of the House of Savoy were known
as the Kings of Sardinia, Turin remained their capital.
original territory of Savoy was absorbed into France 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, Savoie and Haute-Savoie.
The modern separatist / regionalist
movements are discussed in the "Annexation and Opposition" section
in this article.
traditional capital remains Chambéry (Chiamberì), on the rivers Leysse 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
, having previously been occupied by the Celtic Allobroges
people The name Savoy
from the Late Latin Sapaudia
referring to a fir forest
. It is first recorded
in Ammianus Marcellinus
to describe the southern part of Maxima
According to the Gallic Chronicle of 452
, it was separated from the
rest of Burgundian territories in 443, after the Burgundian defeat
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
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 Arles).
County of Savoy was detached from the Kingdom of Arles by emperor
the County of Nice was acquired, and
in 1401 the County of Genevois
(the area of Geneva 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.
moved capital from Chambéry to Turin, which was
less vulnerable to French interference.
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 Austria for Sardinia) the Kingdom of Sardinia from
Savoy was occupied by French
between 1792 and 1815. The region was first
added to the département of Mont-Blanc, then in 1798 was divided between the départements
of Mont-Blanc and Léman (French name
of Lake Geneva.)
On September 13, 1793 the combined forces of Savoy, Piedmont and
fought against and lost to the
occupying French forces at the Battle of Méribel
along with Piedmont and Nice 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
treaty was followed on April 22/23 by a plebiscite in which voters were offered the
option of approving the treaty and joining France or rejecting
the treaty under certain conditions; the disallowed options of
either joining Switzerland (with which the region had close ties), remaining
with Italy, or
regaining its independence, were the source of some
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
As a result of the regional debate sparked by the political
advances, the non-party organisation, La Région Savoie, j’y
(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
, with greater
. 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 
was founded to promote the peaceful separatist
cause to young people.
Towards the end of 2005, Hervé
called for Savoie to be given special status, similar
to a French region, under his proposed 'Conseil des Pays de
- Modern French sapin; sapinière signifies "fir
- 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.
- Sapaudia Burgundionum reliquiis datur cum indigenis
dividenda. (in T. Mommsen, Chronica Minora II:660,
- 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.
- The Times, April 28 1860, Universal Suffrage In Savoy
- Région Savoie.