Edited By Sarah Alyn Stacey
Toby Osborne Language and Sovereignty
: The Use of Titles and Savoy’s Royal Declaration of 1632 In one of the most inf luential and monumental works of Savoyard history produced during the early modern period, the Histoire généalogique de la royale maison de Savoie (1660), Samuel Guichenon devoted one of his chapters to the definition of souveraineté [sovereignty]. Both ancient and modern writers had grappled with the question, describing sovereignty’s qualities and essential markers. Jean Bodin, he wrote, identified seven char- acteristics, encompassing the powers to impose laws on all, to make war or peace, to institute magistrates and other of ficials, to act as the ultimate arbiter, to exercise clemency, to mint coins and to impose levies. Other writ- ers considered dif ferent qualities, such as the right to naturalize foreigners, to legitimize bastards, or to receive ambassadors.1 Defining sovereignty by the ability to exercise authority domestically and internationally was one thing; grades of sovereignty were another, and across the first part of his treatise Guichenon was principally concerned with Savoy’s status, the antiquity of the Savoyard states, the ruling family’s unbroken line that dated back six centuries, its claims to various kingdoms, its marriages into Europe’s most illustrious ruling dynasties, and even with the nature and quality of material possessions such as crowns and relics.2 The Histoire généalogique was borne out of Savoy’s intense campaign for royal status, which ref lected a much wider characteristic of early modern international relations: the obsession amongst Europe’s dynasties and states with issues of...
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