tools of the trade, around 1600
Just a few days after Victor Amedee was crowned Duke of Greater Savoy, Besancon fell, and the Duke of Lorraine sent his troops towards Lyon. But this time, the fortifications proved too strong for the attackers. As several fruitless assaults and the winter of 1631 had decimated their numbers, they had to retreat in March. After we recaptured France Comte a few months later, Lorraine ceded Nivernais to France and a peace treaty was signed.
Victor Amedee was a man of peace. When Spain declared war on the Netherlands, Scotland and England 6 months later, the Duke followed the example of his French cousin and refused to send our troops. Instead he renewed our alliance with France and even convinced the Emperor to join a couple of weeks later.
The French king died on 6th of October 1633 without an heir, leaving Duke Victor Amedee not as his closest, but as his highest relative. No one questioned our claims on the French territories (Orleans, Maine, Nivernais and Caux), which became part of Greater Savoy. As Paris was held be Burgundy and Reims belonged to Lorraine, our Duke could not be crowned King of France – for now.
In 1633 another 2 provinces were gained for the Savoien crown: Monterrey und Guyana. Soon the first shipments of American gold arrived in Genoa, inspiring many Italians to search their luck far from home in our North American colonies.
But problems followed the gold as faithfully as a dog. In February 1634, an epidemic plaque arrived onboard the ships, which transformed many Italian regions into graveyards (and returned almost 10 years later again). The new wealth also attracted dubious characters: corrupt officials (their swift execution caused some unrest) and doubtful monastic orders (reminding them of their vows of poverty even caused more unrest).
Duke Victor Amedee enjoyed seeing our territories overseas grow and prosper, and his merits for their cause can’t be stresses enough (for example, he ordered the construction of great shipyard in Genoa in 1635).
When he died totally unexpected in October 1637, his son was too young to rule the nation. His wife, Francois Hyacinthe of France, became regent instead. Her short reign was full of disasters. Just a few weeks after she took the throne, a great fire destroyed our weapon manufactory in Dauphine (we rebuilt it several years later). Then, in March 1638, Spanish troops took control of our colonies in San Bernardino and Surinam. Letters of protest were sent to Madrid, but the Spanish king didn’t answer. Instead, his ambassador gave us a copy of the Treaty of Tordesillas. As Spain knew, that the Pope gave us an exceptional permission over 100 years ago (together with the right to move our troops freely through his domains), this was one of the greatest scandal at our court in The last 100 years. Actually, our relation with Spain had become worse and worse during the last decades. Spanish troops had repeatedly attacked our settlements in Surinam, Guyana, Monterrey and on the West Indian islands (they even besieged Barbados in 1635), and two of Spain’s vassals openly harassed our merchants. One of the last decisions Francois Hyacinthe made as a regent, was to follow Austria into a war against Sweden and Denmark in June 1639. Only a few years ago, both realms had great generals which could lead their armies to a quick victory. But as Albrecht Wallenstein and Gustav Adolph of Sweden died 5 years ago, this Austrian adventure promised to be a long and bloody one (maybe 30 years). For this reason, the nobility (especially the Italian one), opposed the regent and forced her to abdicate in favour of her son.
Charle Emmanuel II was crowned Duke on the 7th of September 1639. As he became Duke thanks to the support of the Italian nobility, the French nobles now feared to lose influence and power. The old conflict between the French and Italian party, continental and colonial politics, soon led to the 2nd civil war in Savoy, which would last for over five years (especially Maine and Orleans were strongholds of the revolting nobles). For the first years of this crisis, Charle Emmanuel could count on the services of his uncle, who was appointed chancellor. But after this loyal minister was assassinated in March 1443, the young Duke was on his own.
Charle Emmanuel II didn’t share neither the commanding abilities of his grandfather, nor his father’s administrative abilities. But he was a man with a keen mind – and he had the vision of Savoy becoming a colonial power like Spain and Portugal. He used the years of internal crisis to make preparations for the day he would realize his dream (signing a white peace with Sweden in 1641 just was the first step). No one asked, if all the troops the Duke raised were really necessary to fight a small rebellion. Some questioned the use of improving our fortifications in Southern France and on the islands in the Mediterranean, but they soon remained silent again. Local militia was trained in our colonies, but staid under arms for almost 3 years now.
Duke Charle Emmanuel travelled to Roma on the 7th of August 1645. After a secret meeting with the Pope, that lasted almost the whole night, Savoy was declared sole Defender of the True Faith. One day later, we declared war on Münster, Würzburg and Spain.
As Austria refused to fight their Spanish cousins, the Duke travelled to Vienna immediately. In the meantime, his troops invaded Marche and Apulia. When he met the Emperor one month later, both provinces were under siege (Surinam, Caribe, Martinique and San Bernardino were already controlled by our troops). No one really knows, what the monarchs discussed in the Emperor’s private chambers, but on the next day, Austria joined arms with Savoy.
a time of war
With our eastern border secured, our troops began to invade Roussilion, but had to retreat when Spain sent its home army against them. From now on, the war in Europe was an endless fighting over the control of Roussilion and Languedoc: one day our troops were in control, just to lose the next battle several weeks later (and just to be victorious in another 2 weeks).
Our darkest hour came in March 1646, when 4.000 brave Spanish soldiers defending their northern border completely annihilated our invasion forces – 37.000 sons of Savoy were slain.
The outcome of this war solely depended on our colonies now. Our fleet set sail for America during the first days of the war, and finally passed the rocks of Gibraltar after defeating 5 Spanish fleets sent to stop them (but now there was no fleet left anymore to help our colonies fighting Spanish superiority). Our troops in the West Indian islands had taken Curacao, Puerto Rico and Tortuga in a coup the main. But as the mighty Spanish fleet controlled the seas, no reinforcements could reach them. Instead, Spanish troops landed on the Bermudas and Bahamas. One year later they started to besiege Barbados and Dominiqua. The war in the Caribbean almost seemed lost, when we heard about the continuing exhaustion of their American mines in summer 1646. Without gold, Spain could not pay its mercenaries. Until the end of the year, rebelling soldiers controlled almost the entire vice-kingdom of Peru and Cuba. In the very moment these news reached Europe, England declared war on Spain. Now victory was ours – we just had to convince Spain of it too.
In October 1647 we successfully assaulted the last Spanish strongholds in Italy. In November we regained control over Martinique, Barbados and Dominiqua. After our troops landed on the Bahamas and the Bermudas in February and April of the next year, Spain accepted to start peace negotiations. Formal treaties were signed on the 3rd of May 1648. Spain gave up Apulia and Marche; San Bernardino would be part of Savoien California. Caribe, Surinam and Martinique completed our possession of the Windward Islands and the adjacent provinces on the South American continent.
We were still suffering under the price of this victory (ruined reputation, high inflation, civil unrest caused by revolting peasant), when Austria declared war on Poland, Russia and Albania in November 1649. As Austrian help during our war against Spain had been almost unexciting, and the Emperor showed no consideration for our difficult situation, Duke Charle Emmanuel decided not to follow his cousin. Instead, we entered an alliance with Lorraine and a man who called himself Louis XIV, King of France, after leading a rebellion against the Spanish governor in Berri during our war against Spain.
The following years were spent rebuilding our former strength. A short war together with Lorraine and France against Burgundy in 1650 (Picardie became French, and Lorraine gained Luxemburg) was the exception. Although Luxemburg had been captured with our help, the Duke of Lorraine refused to become vassal of Savoy one year later (he was a proud man), but sent a gift of 300 pounds of gold instead (he was an intelligent one too).
Spain and England signed a peace in 1651 (England now had vast territories in Northern America and British Columbia). The Austrian-Russian war ended one year later (Austria gained some Albanian provinces). After the emotions had calmed down another 3 years, the Treaty of Tordesillas was officially cancelled by the Pope (no one cared about it anymore), and religious tensions lessened all over Europe.
New West Savoy
The Duke soon realized that administrating his worldwide realm was more, than a single man could handle - he started promoting ducal governors in 1655. The Aztec Empire declared war on us in the same year, but they proved to be no challenge for our disciplined troops (they would pay 600 pounds of gold to live in peace 3 years later).
The next ten years were a time of peace all over Europe. From time to time, the Duke had to care about corrupt official, boundary disputes, mysterious epidemics in the colonies and many other little disturbances.
In 1669 France declared war on Burgundy. The war was short, and left France in possession of Bourgogne after only 15 months of fighting. Again, Lorraine refused to become our vassals (and again they sent a gift instead).
The reign of Charle Emmanuel ended, like it had begun. After chartering a new university in Lyon (and granting it special rights), the nobility demanded the same old rights for itself in 1670. The Duke refused, causing severe unrest in the realm. After refusing the restoration of these rights again in 1671, civil war seemed inevitable. But the swift execution of some troublemakers intimidated the nobles, and in the end they accepted the Duke’s decision.
Charle Emmanuel died in peace in 1675. Victor Amedee II was crowned Duke of Greater Savoy on the 16th of June. After he had visited our allies in France and Lorraine several weeks later, Savoy had two new vassals.