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.

County of Savoy
Flag of Savoy
Imperial Banner
(was used by the first counts to prove loyalty to the Emperor)
Coat of arms of Savoy
Coat of arms
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 northwest of Savoy proper, Bresse, was acquired in 1272.
StatusState of the Holy Roman Empire
(from 1032 or 1313)a
Core country of the Savoyard state
CapitalChambéry (from 1295)
Count of Savoy 
• 1003–1048
Humbert I White Hands
• 1391–1416
Amadeus VIII (Anti-Pope Felix V)
Historical eraHigh Middle Ages
• Inherited March of Turin
• Acquired County of Nice
• Acquired County of Geneva
• Raised to duchy by Sigismund
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kingdom of Arles
Duchy of Savoy
  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.


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 neighbouring 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.

Chambéry Castle

The counts further enlarged their territory when, in 1218, they inherited the Vaud lands north of 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 in 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, and 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.



Further reading

  • 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]