Political, Religious and Social Conflict in the States of Savoy, 1400–1700

by Sarah Alyn Stacey (Volume editor)
©2014 Edited Collection XIV, 322 Pages


Taking conflict as its collective theme, this book brings together the work of early modern specialists to offer a range of insights into the political, social and religious climate in Savoy between 1400 and 1700. The contributors focus on the broader context of early modern European history, making clear the sometimes overlooked political and historical significance of Savoy. The volume explores the diverse mechanisms whereby political, social and religious conflicts were articulated with reference to a wide range of primary sources, many of which are unpublished. The chapters offer important perspectives on subjects such as: the diplomatic relations between the court of Savoy and certain foreign powers during a time of European unrest; the role of propaganda; the construction of national and religious identities; and persecution and resistance, notably in relation to the Reformation and the Waldensians. The conclusions that are established advance a better understanding of the history of Savoy and of the broader conflicts shaping Europe in the early modern period.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Notes on the Text
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Language and Sovereignty: The Use of Titles and Savoy’s Royal Declaration of 1632
  • Abbreviations
  • L’Impossible Désinformation: la diplomatie savoyarde et la présentation de la situation provençale en Italie et en Espagne, 1590–1592
  • Pratiques de la désinformation :monopole et miroir déformant
  • Limites structurelles et conjoncturelles de la désinformation
  • Abréviations
  • Sabaudian Propaganda and the Wars of Succession of Mantua and Monferrato, 1613–1631
  • Propaganda and the First War of Succession: Virgilio Pagani’s Della guerra di Savoia contra il Monferrato (1613)
  • Propaganda and the Second War of Succession:Pietro Martire Taroni’s Sopra le ragioni di successione universale nello stato di Monferrato (1628)
  • Building the Memory
  • Abbreviations
  • Marc-Claude de Buttet’s Apologie […] pour la Savoie (1554): Conflicting Perceptions of the 1536 French Invasion of Savoy
  • Reading and Writing the French Invasion of Savoy
  • Barthélemy Aneau’s Preface to the Stile et reiglement (1553)
  • Marc-Claude de Buttet’s Response: The Apologie (1554)
  • Aneau’s Riposte: Juris Prudentia (1554)
  • Buttet’s Response: 1560 and 1575
  • An Edition of the Apologie de Marc-Claude de Buttet pour la Savoie (1554)
  • Editorial Practice
  • Orthography
  • Punctuation
  • Glossary
  • The Peace of Cavour in the European Context
  • The Diffusion in Print of Religious Peace Agreements in the Sixteenth Century
  • Referencing, Relationships and Transfers:the Communication of Religious Peace Agreements in Europe in circa 1560
  • Savoy, the Religious Peace of Augsburg of 1555 and the Peace of Cavour of 1561
  • The Transfer of ‘tolerance know-how’ between Savoy and France (1561)
  • The Interim as a Point of Reference in Savoy and France, 1561–1562
  • Abbreviations
  • Appendix 1
  • Appendix 2
  • Letter from Girolamo Della Rovere to Emanuele Filiberto, Paris, 15 June 1561 (AST, Corte, Lettere ministri Francia, m. 1, n. 168, fol. 2r–v). NB. In my transcription I have made no editorial interventions.
  • Appendix 3
  • Letter from Girolamo Della Rovere to Emanuele Filiberto, Paris 10 July 1561 (AST, Corte, Lettere ministri Francia, m. 1, n. 170, fol. 1r–1v). NB. In my transcription I have made no editorial interventions.
  • ‘Documentary Adventures’: The Waldensian Inquisition Manuscripts in Trinity College Dublin
  • From Perrin’s Desk to Ussher’s Bookcase
  • From the Brown Tower to Trinity College Library
  • Directions for Future Research on the Waldensians
  • The Waldensian Manuscripts in Trinity College Dublin: The Sermons and Lectionary of MS Du 267
  • Abbreviations
  • Appendix: List of Feasts and Pericopes Appearing in the Lectionary of MS Du 267
  • Waldensians, the Reformation and Abbatial Domains in Western Piedmont and in the Marquisate of Saluzzo in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
  • Santa Maria in Pinerolo
  • Santi Vittore e Costanzo in Villar San Costanzo
  • Abbreviations
  • The Ban on Liturgical Practice in Antey and Torgnon, 1525–1530: New Perspectives on a Confessional Controversy
  • The Reformation in Antey and Torgnon
  • The Ban: A Reassessment
  • Abbreviations
  • Les Libelles vaudois sur les Pâques piémontaises: des armes efficaces dans le conflit avec la cour de Savoie (1655)
  • Une attaque qui retentit au-delà des Alpes :les libelles contre la cour
  • Les Vaudois victimes de la furie piémontaise :l’émergence de stéréotypes
  • La Conquête de l’opinion : une argumentation réussie
  • Raconter le conflit : des procédés d’écriture bien choisis
  • Un arsenal infaillible qui franchit les siècles
  • The Place of the Cross: The Pamphlet Battle between François de Sales and Antoine de La Faye
  • The Catholic Mission in the Chablais
  • The Response to the Placards
  • The Dispute over the Cross: La Faye versus de Sales
  • Monstrous Births, Prophecy and Heresy in Savoy and Piedmont: The ‘Trattato dei monstri’ by Guglielmo Baldessano
  • Guglielmo Baldessano: Life and Work
  • Piedmont at the Centre of Christendom:the ‘Historia ecclesiastica’
  • From Monsters to Wonders
  • Baldassano’s ‘Breve trattato e dichiarazione dei monstri’
  • Abbreviations
  • Index
  • Series index

← x | xi → Notes on the Text

In referring to Savoyard entities, both French and Italian forms have been used. This seemed appropriate given the bilingual nature of the States of Savoy. Moreover, some names do not have acceptable English forms.

All translations are by the respective authors unless there is an indication to the contrary.

For ease of reference, abbreviations relating to archival and bibliographical sources used by the contributors are given at the end of each chapter. ← xi | xii →

← xii | xiii → Acknowledgements

I would like to express my thanks to the Long Room Hub of Trinity College Dublin for sponsoring the conference ‘Les Conflits en Savoie 1400–1700/Conflict and Society in Savoy 1400–1700’, held in Trinity on 26–28 May 2010. That conference brought together an international range of eminent scholars whose erudition and expertise laid the foundation for this volume. I am indebted to them for their precious contributions. I would especially acknowledge here the contribution of Federico Bo whose sudden and unexpected death in the spring of 2013 is a great loss to the scholarly community. In the course of the conference which gave rise to this volume of essays, he gave an exceptionally lucid and scholarly presentation of the unique Waldensian holdings conserved in the Old Library of Trinity College. He was preparing his doctorate under the supervision of Luciana Borghi Cedrini at the University of Turin. This volume of essays is dedicated to him.

My thanks must also be expressed to the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Trinity College Dublin, for providing generous financial assistance towards the publishing costs of the book and for providing me with a twelve-week sabbatical which permitted, to some degree, its completion. I must also acknowledge the invaluable support and advice of Professor Noel Peacock, the series editor, and Christabel Scaife and Hannah Godfrey of Peter Lang. I am particularly grateful to them for recognizing the scholarly significance of the volume when the project was still at an embryonic stage. I would like also to thank Professors Pauline Smith and Louis Terreaux for setting me on the course of my studies on Savoy so many years ago: their scholarship has been a guiding inspiration. Thanks are due also to my colleagues in Trinity’s Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, notably to Dr Gerald Morgan, Director of the Chaucer Hub and Fellow of Trinity College Dublin, for his advice and unstinting enthusiasm for the project. Finally, I must express my gratitude to Felix for his unwavering support, optimism and good spirits during the editing process. ← xiii | xiv →



Taking conflict as its collective theme, this volume of articles offers a range of insights into the political, social and religious climate of the Duchy of Savoy in the early modern period. It considers the diplomatic relations between the court of Savoy and various foreign powers during a time of wide-scale European unrest, unrest which had notable repercussions for the defining of national territories, identities, and religious allegiance. A primary focus of the volume in this last respect is the persecution of the Waldensians, the followers of the Christian spiritual movement which, in the sixteenth century, was absorbed into the Protestant Reformation.1 The conference that inspired this volume of essays was, in fact, organised around the Waldensian manuscripts conserved in the Old Library of Trinity College and collected by James Ussher (1581–1656), Professor of Theology in Trinity and, from 1625, Archbishop of Armagh.2

A number of the chapters consider the use of propaganda to manipulate perceptions about the House of Savoy, thereby touching on a conflict between political reality and constructed image arising from political ambition. This is the subject of the first three chapters which examine the attempts by the Dukes of Savoy to elevate their status either through court protocols or territorial expansion.

In the first of these chapters, ‘Language and Sovereignty: The Use of Titles and Savoy’s Royal Declaration of 1632’, Tony Osborne considers ← 1 | 2 → the political importance and implications of royal titles for Europe’s early modern dynasties. Taking Savoy as a case study, he demonstrates how a dynasty’s desire for a shift to higher status could be enacted, to a certain degree, by its appropriation of titles reflecting the desired superior status and by the public acknowledgment of these titles by other dynasties. The trattamento reale [royal treatment] of 23 December 1632 is a significant example in this respect. By this edict, Vittorio Amedeo I asserted the royal status of the House of Savoy, notably the right to use the title of king and to enjoy all the related honours and prerogatives accompanying such a title. Building on the earlier research of the late Robert Oresko and recent work on the concept of status, particularly that relating to the assertion of status through symbolic communication (the work of Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger and J.L. Austin is particularly relevant), Osborne analyses the effectiveness of the trattamento reale. In light of the historical claims of the House of Savoy to royal status, asserted by historiographers such as Samuel Guichenon and Pietro Monod (and complemented by a whole raft of pro-Savoyard texts published from the latter part of the sixteenth century onwards), the use of a royal title was far from a mere ‘descriptive utterance’ but a ‘constitutive performance act in a way that the intrinsic claims to royalty before 1632 were not’. If at home the claims were recognised, considerable resistance to the formal recognition of Savoy’s royal status through titles was encountered in the international arena: Venice was hostile, the papacy was cautious, and the Stuarts, Habsburgs and Bourbons, although subscribing unofficially to Savoy’s royal status (as evidenced by their epistolary language), also held back from giving public recognition to it after 1632. Savoy, then, failed to give a convincing performance of its royal status at an international level. If Savoy’s assertion of its royal status in 1632 reflects the potential fluidity of early modern sovereign status, it also highlights the extent to which this mobility was dependent, at an international level, upon the willingness of other dynasties to enter into a political pact to permit it. The refusal to support such a shift amounted essentially to a political conflict with the aspirant Savoy.

The language of political ambition is also the focus of the chapter by Fabrice Micallef. In ‘L’Impossible Désinformation: la diplomatie savoyarde et la présentation de la situation provençale en Italie et en Espagne, ← 2 | 3 → 1590–1592’, Micallef examines the expansionist politics of Duke Charles-Emmanuel, recognizing as a starting point two events of 1588: the publication of René de Lucinge’s De la naissance, durée et chute des Etats and the Duke’s invasion of the Marquisate of Saluzzo. The tense political situation in France following the assassination of Henri III in 1589, particularly the conflict between the League and those in favour of the accession to the throne of Henri IV, presented an important opportunity for the Duke to expand his influence: he gave military support to the League in the South but had to leave Provence definitively by the end of 1592. Ultimately the Duke’s aim was to procure the support of the papacy and the Spanish monarchy so that he might assert control over the Provençal territories. An essential tool of this political strategy was propaganda, primarily disinformation relying upon lies, ambiguity and deceit. Through a close analysis of the diplomatic correspondence of the period, this chapter demonstrates how the Savoyards sought to present their military and political campaign in Provence in a positive light yet ultimately failed to win over the Pope and Spain owing largely to a broader range of sources which refused to participate in this game by contradicting the Savoyard propaganda. This conflict between versions may be understood as a diplomatic game characteristic of the period. Micallef concludes that if Savoyard diplomacy failed to attain its ultimate goal, the Duchy’s political identity and cohesion were nonetheless strengthened by the exercise in propaganda.

Continuing with the theme of propaganda in her contribution, ‘Sabaudian Propaganda and the Wars of Succession of Mantua and Monferrato, 1613–1631’, Blythe Alice Raviola considers a relatively neglected conflict and the equally neglected pro-Savoyard propagandist texts to which it gave rise. After first retracing the political background to the two wars, the competing claims of both Mantua and Savoy to Monferrato, the military and commercial advantages the territory offered, and both the diplomatic measures taken by Duke Charles-Emmanuel to assert his claim (primarily through the marriage of his eldest daughter Margherita to Francesco Gonzaga in 1608) and the military strategies he nonetheless simultaneously prepared, the chapter then proceeds to analyse two pro-Savoyard texts: the first, Virgilio Pagani’s Della guerra di Savoia contra il Monferrato (1613), is significant not just because in its celebration of Charles-Emmanuel’s ← 3 | 4 → victory in the first war it conveys Savoy’s optimism that it could succeed in its claims but also because it offers a justification for a military operation largely condemned at a diplomatic level. The second text, Pietro Martire Taroni’s Sopra le ragioni di successione universale nello stato di Monferrato (1628), also offers a justification for Savoy’s claims to Monferrato, albeit in a much more legalistic and formal tone than Pagani’s text. A major argument advanced by Taroni is that Monferrato was an imperial fief, and, as the Aleramici, the first rulers of it, shared the same ancestry as the House of Savoy, it should rightfully be inherited by Savoy. These two texts are set in the context of a larger body of propagandist work which is primarily by non-Savoyard writers and is reflective of how important the Duchy’s claims to Monferrato were considered to be. The chapter concludes with a reflection on how nineteenth-century hagiography picks up on these writings to support the then pressing issue of national unity in the peninsula: the Savoyard Dukes, in their attempts to seize Monferrato, emerge as precursors of those seeking a unified modern Italy. Ultimately, however, it is Savoie’s loyalty to the Holy Roman Empire which emerges as a key characteristic of the Wars of Succession.

The next chapter, ‘Marc-Claude de Buttet’s Apologie […] pour la Savoie (1554): Conflicting Perceptions of the 1536 French Invasion of Savoy’, also focuses on the expression of Savoyard national identity. Here I consider the articulation of it in print in a variety of genres between 1553 and 1575 in the course of a polemic between the French scholar Barthélemy Aneau and the Savoyard poet Marc-Claude de Buttet. Prompted by Aneau’s justification of the changes by the French to the Savoyard legal and administrative system, the conflict provides an interesting insight into opposing reactions to the French occupation of the Duchy (1536–1559). The following chapter provides an edition of the rare work at the centre of the controversy, Buttet’s Apologie […] pour la Savoye.

In the next group of chapters, the volume shifts away from military and political conflict to consider the role of the Dukes of Savoy in the religious conflicts arising from the Reformation. The plight of the Waldensians is the primary focus of this section of the volume.

In ‘The Peace of Cavour in the European Context’, it is the role of the diplomatic word in relation to religious conflict in the Duchy of Savoy ← 4 | 5 → which is explored. Cornel Zwierlein here considers the diffusion of peace treaties and their roles in influencing each other and, therefore, European diplomacy. Although the chapter focuses on the Peace of Cavour (1561), a solution to the conflict negotiated between Duke Emmanuel-Philibert and the Waldensians, by examining the international context in which the document was drawn up Zwierlein highlights significant issues relevant to a whole series of peace solutions drawn up in Europe from the 1550s through to the end of the sixteenth century. Central to the analysis is the Imperial concept of an interim posited in the 1548 Augsburg Interim of Emperor Charles V and later in the Peace of Augsburg of 1555. Two ideal models of religious peace agreements in Europe emerge: one of ‘outward plurality’, arising from the concept of ‘cuius regio, eius religio’ whereby only one confession was permitted, that of the prince, within a territory; and that of ‘internal plurality’, whereby several confessions were allowed in one territory. In reality, however, the application of these models was not so clear-cut or simple, with the result that hybrid forms of peace solutions emerged. The Peace of Cavour is one such example: often seen as the achievement principally of the Duke’s wife, Marguerite de France, given her known sympathies and conciliatory attitude, the Peace of Cavour tends towards a solution of ‘internal plurality’ which, in the Empire, obtained only in the bi-confessional imperial cities. The chapter looks at the possible influence of this Peace on the religious conflict in France: evidence suggest that supporters of an interim there were pointing to the solution adopted by Emmanuel-Philibert as a model to follow. Interestingly, between 1560 and 1561, the Waldensians in Piedmont had referred to an interim to be granted to the Huguenots by the French King when negotiating peace with the Duke. There is, then, a strong suggestion of a mutual influence on the peace negotiations being exerted by the respective heretical factions. The French monarchy’s solution, the January Edict of 1562, with its accommodation of bi-denominationalism, certainly indicates what Zwierlein terms a ‘transfer of tolerance solutions’ as a result primarily of the influence of the Peace of Cavour. As for the Peace of Cavour, if Emmanuel-Philibert was at first inspired by the concept of ‘outward plurality’ fundamental to the Peace of Augsburg when he began his military repression of the Waldensians, the peace solution that he finally accepted is clearly a new ← 5 | 6 → type of solution, influenced by the principle of ‘internal plurality’ advocated by the former Chancellor of his wife, Michel de L’Hôpital, with regard to civic tolerance of Huguenots. In its exploration of the question of transfer of influence, this chapter provides a very important survey of the translation and diffusion in print of religious peace agreements in the sixteenth century and in so doing highlights a conflict quite separate from the religious one between the Waldensians and Duke Emmanuel-Philibert, and between the Huguenots and the French Monarchy: the conflict between past and present perspectives as to what constitutes an important peace treaty. This discrepancy points up the need for circumspection in our reading of the past. What particularly strikes us in the reading of this chapter, however, is the impact of the diffusion of the material text upon the making of diplomatic decisions and upon the history of religious conflict in the early modern period.

The material text and how it is used and interpreted remain central to the concept of conflict in two chapters which focus on the Waldensian manuscripts collected by Archbishop James Ussher in the sixteenth century and conserved in the Old Library of Trinity College.


XIV, 322
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2014 (February)
diplomatic relations propaganda persecution resistance
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2014. XIV, 322 pp.

Biographical notes

Sarah Alyn Stacey (Volume editor)

Sarah Alyn Stacey is an Associate Professor in the Department of French at Trinity College Dublin, where she is also the founding director of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. In recognition of her research, she has been elected to fellowships at both the University of Dublin and the Académie de Savoie. She has served for many years on the executive council of the Society for Renaissance Studies and has also been a member of the executive committee of the Society for French Studies. She has published extensively on Savoy in the sixteenth century, notably on the poet Marc-Claude de Buttet, and is the author of a significant number of publications in other areas of French studies.


Title: Political, Religious and Social Conflict in the States of Savoy, 1400–1700
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335 pages