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the Empire, Spain, and Austria: courted on all sides with lavish promises and the most tempting baits of aggrandisement. Its princes, themselves connected by repeated intermarriage with the greatest houses, have lived like poor nobles introduced by family connexion into the mansions of great and wealthy spendthrifts: and the personal superiority which so many of them have possessed over the cotemporary sovereigns of the greater monarcbies, in whose counsels of peace and war they were called to share, has often instigated them to the achievement of greatness at the expense of wealthier but less able allies. Constantly, also, has the very existence of the House itself, as an independent power, hung on one scale, its aggrandisement on the other. Many a conquest of the House of Savoy has been a mere alternative for annihilation.
But the temptation, however natural, was not without its evil effects. And accordingly the whole history of the family is full of the most visionary attempts at greatness, alternating with the labours of that patient and persevering industry which builds up real power. If the House of Savoy will accept of another illustration, less flattering than the last : its story often reminds us of that of a second-rate gambler, of small means and singular perseverance, who is accidentally admitted into the company of deep players — and whose days are spent in sedulously scraping together means enough to venture on an occasional throw for some great stake, to hold which seems disproportionate to his ability, while to lose it is utter beggary.
Strangely varied have been these daring ventures, as we trace the fortunes of the house through the changes and vicissitudes of modern European history. Whatever may have been the prevailing fancy or absorbing interest of an age, we are certain to find the dynasty of Savoy deeply engaged in it, and foremost, when practicable, to derive advantage from it. It has mixed itself up with the foreign plans and internal revolutions of France and Spain for many generations; has not been without its influence, at various times, on the fate of the empire; and once even furnished remote England with a prime minister, in the person of Count Peter, commonly called the Little Charlemagne, — the same who built the Savoy in London, and the Castle of Chillon in Switzerland. When chivalry was in its zenith, the Green Count and the Red Count were the recognised leaders of the chivalrous follies of the day. When the crusading spirit pervaded Europe, the house of Savoy became involved in Oriental politics --- carving out nominal kingdoms and principalities for itself in the Levant, and reigning over the phantom realms of
of the age.
Achaia, Cyprus, and Jerusalem. When Church questions got uppermost, it plunged zealously into the religious quarrels
It has furnished one Archbishop of Canterbury (Boniface) and one pope of questionable legitimacy (Felix the Fifth). When European politics assumed their modern form in the 16th century, and territorial conquest became the passion of potentates, it entered boldly on that career of active partizanship in the great continental quarrels, in which it has ever since played a part so far beyond its apparent power.
It is, however, without sufficient discrimination that this career is represented as a continual progress, and that its steady policy of aggrandisement is imagined to have met with uninterrupted success. It is forgotten how many of its most daring schemes have entirely failed; how many of its more practicable projects, formed centuries ago, remain unaccomplished; how often the obstinate valour of its Alpine soldiery has been wasted on adventures, in which neither they nor their leaders had any substantial interest; and how often, after all, the House has been rescued in extremity by the forbearance or policy of more powerful neighbours, who might have extinguished it and its lofty pretensions for ever. Too many of its sovereigns have had occasion to bemoan themselves in language like that of Duke Lewis to his daughter-in-law, Charlotte of Lusignan, when she came to plead for assistance in her hopeless contest against James the Bastard : Sabaudiam exhauriit Cyprus. Quicquid * pinguedinis fuit ad vos transiit. Vacua provincia est. • in Cypro regnum perdidistis, et nos propediem in Sabaudiâ
carituri sumus imperio.' In contemplating the great increase of the Piedmontese dominions on the side of Italy, we are apt to forget counterbalancing losses on that of France. Before the Reformation, the fiefs of the dukes of Savoy and their vassals extended far along the banks of the Rhone and the Saône, -over Bresse and Gex, great part of the Jura, and all French Switzerland. In the magnificent view which they commanded from their domain at Ripaille on the Lake of Geneva, there was scarcely a point which was not either their own or held by some feudal dependant. It is probable that the subsequent acquisitions of their descendants on the side of Piedmont, prior to the Treaty of Vienna, scarcely compensated, in actual value, for the French provinces which they had lost. And even now, considering the relative increase of the French and Austrian monarchies, the King of Sardinia, probably, occupies a less important position in Europe than the dukes of Savoy held when their dominions extended from Nice nearly to Châlons-sur-Saône;
and when the Spanish proverb ran, There is only one King' (Spain), 'one Duke' (Savoy), and one Count' (Orange).*
The reign of Emanuel Philibert, the duke thus highly esteemed by the Spaniards (1553--1580), may perhaps be taken as the critical point in the history of his dynasty, when its centre of gravity was transferred from one side of the Alps to the other. He was the first duke in whose household Italian was commonly spoken French having been exclusively the language of the court of his ancestors. He seems first to have recognised the policy of setting his back to the Alps and his face to the East; to have understood that his dominion must gradually recede on the one hand before the advancing power of France, but that Upper Italy was the artichoke,' according to the saying we have elsewhere quoted, which the House of Savoy was destined to pull leaf by leaf. But Emanuel Philibert was in truth one of the greatest among those remarkable princes of the 16th century,the men of transition, whose habits and education were those of the mailed knights of the Middle Ages, while their political views were framed to meet the exigencies of a time of printing and gunpowder. His contemporaries chiefly admired him for his chivalrous qualities of personal valour and his extraordinary bodily strengtht: but there were some among them, such as the sagacious Venetian residents, (as we learn from their reports concern
The following was the order of ducal precedency established by Paride de' Grassi, Master of the Ceremonies to Popes Julius II. and Leo X.:-Britanny, Burgundy, the Palatinate, Saxony, Brandenburg, Austria, Savoy, Milan, Venice, Bavaria, Lorraine, Bourbon, Orleans, Genoa, Ferrara.
† The Venetian ambassador Morosini relates how he was once invited to join a hunting party by the duke. They started from Bourg-en-Bresse, across the Jura, crossed nine or ten mountains, and killed a stag fifty miles off. The few who were in at the death then hurried in to the nearest feudal tower or fortified house they could discover. The duke finding a scarcity of fire-wood to cook the eggs, set to with an axe, and chopped logs .con una destrezza e forza * mirabile. As soon as he had dispatched his omelet, he exercised himself with the crossbow till dark, and then played at le pedrelle (?) till one in the morning, ‘seeming as if he had gone through no fatigue • the whole day, while we, who were with him, could scarcely stand on • our legs, though we had undergone far less labour than he; At which,
when I marvelled, his Excellency said to me as follows: “I am "" accustomed to the fatigues of war, and many and many a time I "" have sweated under my armour, and slept in the same shirt, 6" without shifting my linen or taking off my boots or spurs for 6" thirty days together-and, thanks be to God, I never was the worse 6 " for it.” – Relazioni Venete. VOL. XC. NO. CLXXXI.
ing him to their commonwealth,) who were capable of discerning the qualities of the founder of a state beneath those of the soldier and the huntsman, and anticipated the judgment which a more enlightened posterity has passed upon him.
If Emanuel Philibert was perhaps the ablest representative of the conservative, persevering, and constructive character of his family, his successor, Charles Emanuel, may stand as the type of its adventurous spirit, and of the dangerous ambition of which it is accused. He had all the instincts of a Louis XIV. or a Napoleon, with the cunning and address imposed on him by the inferiority of his position. No enterprise was too great for him, or too distant, or too insignificant, provided that it promised ag. grandisement. It was only at the expense of more powerful but distracted states that this aggrandisement could be effected; and
as familiar as later monarchs have too often shown themselves, with the policy of adopting popular watchwords, and stimulating the fever of the day which was consuming the vitals of neighbouring nations, in order to profit by their madness. When the social body of France was threatened with utter dissolution by the ferment of the league, he became a zealous leaguer; assumed the protectorate of Provence, and entered Marseilles amidst cries of · Vive la Masse.' There was scarcely a crown of Western Europe at which, first or last, he did not aim, at least in imagination. The Duke of Mayenne wished to make him King of France. He had claims on the crown of Spain. He aspired at one time to the Empire. He wanted to be king of Arles, king of Bohemia, Lombardy, and Liguria. Yet he was no visionary ; but one of those men in whom the shrewdest heads are habitually engaged on the wildest projects,
infinement fin et dissimulé,' says the chronicler Hurault: 'Ung des princes du monde le plus ambitieux, double, et sans pa
role. His heart, it was said, was as inaccessible as his country. His own favourite maxim explained the moral by which he justified, at least to himself, his most extravagant schemes, -Si • l'on veut atteindre un but, il faut viser au delà.'
It is, perhaps, the sense of this unnatural position between moderate powers and high designs --- the habitual disappointment of minds thrown back on the petty cares of a third-rate sovereignty, after mingling in the great game of European ambition
-- which has influenced the dispositions of so many of the princes of this race, and produced an early tedium of busy life, and the longing to seek relief in abdication, until the latter practice has become a kind of hereditary fashion among them; a token, as some have called it, of hereditary inconstancy of · character. Even in the middle of courts and camps, the thoughts of some of its greatest leaders seem to have been constantly directed towards the lonely castle, or the more retired convent. Yet such retirement, when achieved, can rarely satisfy the cravings of minds wearied rather than sated with excitement, and destined to experience, as Voltaire expresses it with more feeling than is usual to him, ' combien il est difficile de • remplir son coeur, sur le trône-et hors du trône!' The life of Amadeus VIII., the first Duke, Voltaire's bizarre Amédée,' seems almost the narrative of a fantastic dream. Like the fisherman's wife in the German children's story, he became dissatisfied, one by one, with the various pre-eminences of earthly glory. He exchanged the title of count for that of duke. He reunited with his duchy the fiefs of the princes of Achaia, and became nominal sovereign of a vast Eastern dominion. Suddenly, in the very middle of his schemes of earthly ambition, he descended from the throne, to shut himself up in the priory of Ripaille with a few chosen knights-companions; concerning whom the world is still in doubt, whether they and their sovereign formed a body of religious ascetics, or were simply. attached to the modern order of the Screw. Years rolled by, and the schism which bad disunited the papacy, and threatened its utter destruction, drew towards a close; the busy envoys of both sides paid frequent and mysterious visits to the hermit of Ripaille ; the forgotten duke issued from his retreat as suddenly as he had entered it, to assume for a few short months the
supremacy of Christendom as Pope Felix the Fifth, and then to vanish with the same speed and silence into final obscurity.
From this time the favourite idea of abdication seems to have haunted all his successors. Even Emanuel Philibert, one of the most practical men of his age, used to discuss with the Venetian ambassador Morosini his design of entrusting the internal affairs of the duchy to his son, and retaining for himself only the conduct of its foreign affairs. He would then retire, he said, to his ancestors' home at Ripaille for the summer, and enjoy the fresh breezes of the Leman Lake; his winters should be spent at Nice, where he projected a ducal pleasance' of the most luxurious kind, amidst the orange orchards of the sunny coast. Emanuel Philibert was never able to realise his tasteful scheme. Yet in modern times no less than five kings of his race, men of widely different motives and characters in other respects, have voluntarily descended from the throne.
But the history of the later sovereigns of the direct line of Savoy is too weighty a matter to be dealt with in a careless essay. They were all princes with estimable, some of them with high qualities : however on the whole, since Charles Emanuel the