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The Eagles of Savoy: The House of Savoy in Thirteenth-Century Europe

The Eagles of Savoy: The House of Savoy in Thirteenth-Century Europe

Copyright Date: 1974
Pages: 505
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    The Eagles of Savoy: The House of Savoy in Thirteenth-Century Europe
    Book Description:

    This book is the history of a very remarkable family, that of Count Thomas of Savoy, whose seven sons and two daughters rose from relative obscurity to fame, fortune, and involvement in almost every major international conflict in western Europe during the fifty years following their father's death in 1233. By tracing the careers of the Savoyards, Eugene L. Cox emerges with a pan-European view of the thirteenth century.

    Professor Cox describes the ways in which the members of the Savoyard family gained access to the most powerful courts in Europe, an advantage that they skillfully employed in turning their scattered Alpine dominions into a territorial state, and in making their family a powerful force in the world of high diplomacy. From Scotland and Flanders to Sicily and Rome, the author traces the influence of the Savoyard family in dealings between states, in conflicts with the papacy, and in the struggles for power within the emerging national states.

    Based on extensive research in both published and unpublished sources, the book pieces together widely scattered data in order to reconstruct a picture of a real-life medieval family saga. Set as it is in the era of the formation of national states and the breakdown of the Holy Roman Empire, the story is a fascinating background account of this tumultuous period in history.

    Originally published in 1974.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6791-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Illustrations and Maps
    (pp. xiii-1)
    (pp. 2-2)
    (pp. 3-6)

    In the thirteenth-century epic of Aymeri de Narbonne the hero finds himself confronted with the necessity of providing for his seven sons once they have come of age. Although Aymeri was rich and powerful, his principality was not large enough for so many ambitious young men, and he therefore decided to leave everything he had to his youngest son and to send the other six off to Lombardy, to Spain, to Gascony, and to the court of Charlemagne. There they would have to make their own way in the world unaided save by the reputation of their sire and the...

    (pp. 7-32)

    Thomas I, count of Savoy and “marquis in Italy,” was the author of it all, sire of the eaglets and architect of their early careers. A man of great political vision and tremendous energy, Thomas brought the Savoyards out of the Alps and down upon the plains again, inaugurating a new period of expansion for the House of Savoy after a century of frustration and retreat. It is thought that he adopted for his coat-of-arms the black eagle with scarlet claws and beak in 1207 at Basel, where he espoused the cause of the Hohenstaufen eagle, Philip of Swabia, in...

    (pp. 33-80)

    The death of Count Thomas gave rise to a crisis for the dynasty that was as dangerous as any in its annals. The disappearance of so forceful a personality at the head of the family naturally released the pent-up frustrations of brothers ill-content with the lot which their father had assigned to them. Such frustrations were particularly difficult to deal with, owing to the lack of any clear-cut principles of legal succession in the dynasty of Savoy. Long reigns by only sons had prevented such questions from arising for the past one hundred and fifty years, and the miscellaneous customs...

  9. THREE EAGLES ON THE WING (1239-1244)
    (pp. 81-133)

    Thus did the Provençal poet, Mistral, celebrate the House of Les Baux, but he could still better have been celebrating the House of Savoy, which was also a “race of eaglets” who, “with the tips of their wings, skimmed the crests of all the heights.”¹ Bishop Guillaume had shown the way, but it was in the period immediately following his death that the five remaining brothers, as members of a closely knit family writ large, first emerge from the shadow of their Alps to brush with their wing-tips the crests of international war and diplomacy. These were the years in...

    (pp. 134-188)

    “There has risen from the Sea a Beast full of Blasphemous Words which, with the Feet of a Bear, the Jaws of a Raging Lion, and its other Limbs resembling those of a Panther, opens its Mouth in Curses against God’s Name….”¹ With these words on 21 May 1239 had Pope Gregory IX defended before Christendom his excommunication of Emperor Frederick II, and Innocent IV in 1245 took up with a vengeance the task which Gregory had left unfinished. Innocent’s determination to do so was to make the six years following his flight to Lyon a very important six years...

    (pp. 189-249)

    The period immediately following the death of Frederick II was a period of rapid readjustment for the House of Savoy and of redoubled activity on both sides of the Alps. By pairing off on either side of the bitterest conflict of their time and by occasionally taking refuge in England, the Savoyards had managed to preserve their dominions and their independence. It was now the task of the ecclesiastical brothers to protect the imperialist brothers from the wrath of a triumphant Innocent IV while all of the brothers sought to reap the whirlwind of advantages that had come their way....

  12. Plates
    (pp. None)
    (pp. 250-304)

    During the next nine years the House of Savoy became more involved than ever before in the affairs of England and France. At the English court the “Sicilian business” soon dominated virtually all of Henry III’s activities. The Savoyards played an important part in those activities, as they had done from the beginning, particularly in the negotiations for a peace treaty with the French that would allow the king of England to undertake his long-deferred “crusade” to southern Italy. At the French court the Savoyards also helped to work out a settlement of the Provençal succession that similarly released Charles...

    (pp. 305-372)

    The brief but brilliant reign of Pierre II marks a gradual withdrawal of the House of Savoy toward the Alps and witnessed an important reorganization of government in the family dominions there. To be sure, the Savoyards did not disappear from the international scene during this period, but the territorial scope of their activities did narrow somewhat. There were no longer quite so many eagles now, for in 1263 only half of the original brood brought into the world by Count Thomas and Marguerite de Genève were still alive. Gone were two of the most audacious adventurers, Bishop Guillaume and...

  15. EIGHT SAVOY AND BURGUNDY (1268-1279)
    (pp. 373-419)

    Historians who speak disparagingly of Count Philippe I of Savoy—as writers dealing with his reign almost invariably do—ignore the very significant achievements of his initial years and underestimate the external difficulties which he faced at the end, when he was old and infirm. Justice has not been done to this remarkable figure, partly owing to inadequate knowledge of his career prior to his accession in Savoy, and partly owing to the persistent influence of later chroniclers, who magnified the deeds of Pierre II at the expense of both his father and his brothers. Philippe’s accomplishments over the years...

  16. NINE THE LAST OF THE EAGLES (1279-1285)
    (pp. 420-460)

    Count Philippe was nearing seventy when Alix of Burgundy died, and now only Beatrice dei Fieschi, of all the countesses of former times, remained to share the difficult last years. The old eagle must often have been grateful for her company and for her strong young sons, upon whose energy and intelligence the fortunes of the dynasty increasingly depended. On the international scene the House of Savoy continued to be threatened by the prospect of an aggressive new ruler in a resuscitated kingdom of Aries and it was soon to find itself the intended victim of a new conspiracy hatched...

  17. Genealogy
    (pp. 462-464)
    (pp. 465-476)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 477-492)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 493-493)