The Casa Savoia – A Noble Family between Italy, France, and Switzerland Part 2

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On November 17, 2018, the Monaco-based Auction house Éditions Victor GADOURY will auction off an extensive collection of coins and medals of the Casa Savoia originating from the possessions of a gentleman of the royal family. Part 1 will tell you more about how the family worked its way up to become one of the European powers. 

Vittorio Amedeo I., 1630-1637. Quadrupla, III tipo, Turin, 1634. MIR 703a (R10). Extremely rare. Very fine+ / Extremely fine. Estimate: 50,000 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no. 1527.

Chapter 4: The Dukes Become Kings

In the midst of the Thirty Years’ War, namely on July 26, 1630, Vittorio Amedeo came into power. His father had him married to the third daughter of Henry IV. Hence, the path, which Vittorio Amedeo hoped would allow him to win back his duchy, was predetermined. He had to continue siding with France. Savoy became a French satellite state.

Francesco Giacinto, 1637-1638. Reign of his mother Maria Cristina. 4 Scudi d’oro, Turin. MIR 725 (R8). Extremely rare. NGC AU58. Estimate: 15,000 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no. 1530.

Under the control of the French

Vittorio Amedeo died in 1637 already. His wife – remember, she was the daughter of the French King Henry IV and therefore the sister of Louis XIII – then took over reigns, first on behalf of the five-year-old Francesco Giacinto, then on behalf of the four-year-old Carlo Emanuele II.

Carlo Emanuele II., 1638-1675. Reign of his mother Maria Cristina, 1638-1648. Scudo d’oro, Chambéry. MIR 746 (R10). Extremely rare. NGC MS63. Estimate: 15,000 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no. 1533.

Of course, she did not only defend the rights of her sons. She also successfully prevailed French interests during the Piedmontese Civil War against the younger brothers of her husband. Eventually, Thomas contented himself with being named supreme commander of the Savoyard troops. Maurice, who was designated for the office of cardinal, was allowed to marry his niece, the oldest daughter of Maria Christina, by papal dispensation.

The massacre of the Waldensians

The Peace of Westphalia had not ended all religious wars. In 1655, Carlo Emanuele decided to revoke all privileges of the Waldensians. Those who did not want to attend Catholic mass had to withdraw to the upper valleys. When this policy turned out to be of no avail, the duke had his army take up quarters in their territory. This resulted in riots and the massacre of April 24, 1655.
We will most likely never be able to reconstruct what really happened back then because Protestant propaganda turned the duke into a slaughterman and the Waldensians into poor, tortured victims. Yet, history has taught us that black and white are never determined unambiguously. The massacre did evolve into a guerilla war after all, which did not end until an official treaty was signed many years later in 1664.
This massacre should not distort our view of the fact that under the reign of Carlo Emanuele II important reforms were tackled. For example, he established the first public school system.

Vittorio Amedeo II., 1675-1727. Reign of his mother. Doppio, Turin, 1676. MIR 835b (R4). Very rare. NGC MS63+. Estimate: 5,000 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no. 1544.

The great victor of the Spanish War of Succession

In 1701, the Spanish War of Succession broke out. The Habsburg king Charles II had passed away childless and France did its utmost to secure the throne for the House of Bourbon while the Austrian Habsburg dynasty wanted to see their claim retained. We do not have to retrace all of the developments of this war. However, it is important to know that Vittorio Amedeo played a decisive role.

The kingdom of Piedmont-Savoy around 1700. Map: Raymond Palmer.

The Duke of Savoy was very unhappy with his alliance with Louis XIV, who treated him like a subject. He had already tried to shake off the French sovereignty during the War of the Grand Alliance. This attempt had failed miserably.

Vittorio Amedeo II., 1675-1727. Medal 1706 celebrating the successfully repelled siege of Turin. Jul. 693. NGC MS63. Estimate: 700 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no. 1561.

However, during the Spanish War of Succession, Vittorio Amedeo had an important ally. His cousin Eugene of Savoy determined imperial policies to a large extent. And he ensured that his relative was able to hold Turin during the decisive battle in the summer of 1706.

Vittorio Amedeo II., 1675-1727. As King of Sicily, 1713-1718. 2 Lire, Turin. MIR 883 (R6). Very rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 3,000 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no.1563.

Savoy was one of the big winners of the Peace of Utrecht (1713) and Rastatt (1714) – Prince Eugene of Savoy did act as the negotiator representing the emperor after all. All territories, who had been occupied during the war, were restored. In addition, Savoy became independent of France. The real treat, however, was that the Duke of Savoy received the title of king along with the control over Sicily. The 2 lire coin depicted here shows him bearing the title of the King of Sicily.

Vittorio Amedeo II., 1675-1727. As King of Sardinia, 1724-1727. Reale Sardo, Turin, 1727. MIR 910 (R2). Extremely fine. 800 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no.1567.

However, controlling two territories of such a large distance like Savoy and Sicily came with great logistics efforts. As part of the Treaty of The Hague of 1720, Karl VI of Habsburg and Vittorio Amedeo therefore agreed that the Casa Savoia would retain the title of King but would exchange Sicily for Sardinia.

Carlo Emanuele III., 1730-1773. Scudo Vecchio da 5 Lire, Turin, 1733. MIR 925a (R4). Rare. Almost extremely fine. Estimate: 7,000 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no. 1573.

Chapter 5: The Italian Nation

With the Treaty of The Hague of 1720, Vittorio Amedeo thus became King of Sardinia. He appointed his son Carlo Emanuele as Duke of Savoy. And when the about 60-year-old Vittorio Amedeo, who had lost his wife in 1728, fell in love again, he resigned in favor of his son after a morganatic wedding. This took the entire court by surprise and one could imagine that this was not a well thought-out decision. Because just a few months afterwards, Vittorio Amedeo tried to reclaim power. His son took him captive. And the old former king would have probably remained under confinement if he had not died on October 31, 1732.

Carlo Emanuele III., 1730-1773. 4 Zecchini dell’annunciazione, Turin, 1746. MIR 914b (R9). Very rare. Graffiti on the reverse, otherwise extremely fine. Estimate: 15,000 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no.1569.

Why the Casa Savoia played such an important role in Italy

After the death of his father in 1732, Carlo Emanuele III became the undisputed King of Sardinia and Duke of Savoy. What was even better was the fact that Savoy and Sardinia – along with Venice and the Vatican – were the only territories on Italian soil that were independent from other European powers. This automatically resulted in the Casa Savoia being assigned a very special role in the Italian independence movement as it occurred at a time when one could not yet imagine a nation without a ruler. The movement would therefore be looking for an Italian national figurehead. 

Carlo Emanuele III., 1730-1773. Gold medal, Turin, 1755. Fast FDC. Estimate: 10,000 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no. 1632.

A time of consolidation

The Polish and Austrian Wars of Succession had taught Carlo Emanuele that victories could turn into defeats and defeats could turn into successes very quickly – which is why he decided to remain neutral during the Seven Years’ War.
While the other nations were tearing each other apart, he pushed forward reforms in his domain. Among other things, he was the first one in Europe to have a cadaster of his kingdom developed and founded the universities of Sassari and Cagliari.

Carlo Emanuele III., 1730-1773. Carlino da 5 Doppie, Turin, 1755. MIR 941a (R5). Very rare. NGC AU58. Estimate: 40,000 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no. 1590.

Carlo Emanuele III., 1730-1773. Mezzo Carlino Sardo da Doppiette 2.5, Turin, 1768. MIR 955a (R5). Very rare. NGC MS62. Estimate: 10,000 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no. 1634.

The rich coinage of the Turin mint, which produced large numbers of gold and silver coins, gives proof to the wealth and economic power of his territory. His coinage is divided into a first and a second period because an important reform of denominations was decided on in 1754. Until 1755, a variety of gold and silver coins of all kinds circulated in Savoy. These were demonetized and restruck into new gold and silver coins based on the Carlino (after Carlo Emanuele) and the Doppietta sarda at the Turin mint.

Carlo Emanuele III., 1730-1773. Scudo Nuovo, Turin, 1756. MIR 946b (R2). Rare. NGC MS63. Estimate: 3,500 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no. 1605.

Carlo Emanuele III., 1730-1773. Quarto di Scudo Nuovo, Turin, 1765. MIR 948k. NGC MS66. Estimate: 1,000 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no. 1624.

The scudo nuovo with all of its numerous fractions became the most important silver coin.

Vittorio Amedeo III., 1773-1796. Carlino da 5 Doppie, Turin, 1786. MIR 979 (R4). Rare. NGC AU55. Estimate: 25,000 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no. 1652.

The shock of the French Revolution

In 1773, Vittorio Amedeo’s oldest son took over office. He was devoutly religions and convinced of the divine right of rulers. Which is why he was critical of all reformative attempts and was shocked when the French Revolution broke out in 1789.

Vittorio Amedeo III., 1773-1796. Scudo da 6 Lire, Turin, 1773. MIR 987a (R5). Very rare. Almost FDC. Estimate: 15,000 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no. 1666.

He immediately sided with the royalists – and was devastatingly defeated three times by General Bonaparte’s Army of Italy. In 1796, Vittorio Amedeo and Napoleon brokered an armistice and the King of Sardinia had to sign a peace deal under humiliating conditions. He had to cede the Duchy of Savoy to France in order to at least be allowed to keep the Kingdom of Sardinia. 

Piedmontese Republic. 1798-1799. 1/2 Scudo, Turin, Year VII (= 1799). MIR 1006. Rare. PCGS MS62. Estimate: 2,500 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no. 1103.

The Piedmontese Republic was proclaimed in Turin. A stroke ended the life of Vittorio Amedeo a few months later. He left a ruined kingdom to his son. 

Carlo Emanuele IV., 1796-1800. Doppia, Torino, 1797. MIR 1010a (R2). NGC MS62. Estimate: 3,000 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no. 1705.

Carlo Emanuele IV was left with only the title and rule over the Kingdom of Sardinia. But he could not summon the energy to take care of it. In 1802, he relinquished his office and his younger brother took over. And spent the rest of his solitary life as a simple brother in the Jesuit Order.

The reaction goes ahead

And that was the moment the younger brother of Carlo Emanuele IV entered the stage: Vittorio Emanuele I. He settled in Sardinia and organized his small kingdom. The result of one of his measures still has a lasting effect today: the establishing of the Carabinieri traces back to him.

Vittorio Emanuele I., 1802-1821. Gold medal celebrating the wedding of his daughter Maria Teresa and Charles Louis, Duke of Parma, Turin, 1820. Jul. 3692. Extremely rare. FDC. Estimate: 18,000 euros. From Gadoury Auction (November 17, 2018), no. 1722.

At the Congress of Vienna, he also regained all of his former territories. They were even a little bigger than before as they included the Republic of Genoa. And Vittorio Emanuele ruled with an iron fist. He repealed the Code Napoléon, returned the privileges of nobility and clergy, and sought his allies amongst the oldest royal families of Europe.
He himself had married a granddaughter of the last emperor of the Roman Empire. His daughters all married descendants of the Habsburg dynasty, with the exception of Maria Teresa. This gold medal was issued in celebration of the wedding of her and the Duke of Parma, Charles II. The groom was a descendant of the Spanish line of the Bourbons.

In the last part of this series you will learn more about how the Savoyard kings of Sardinia became the kings of the newly established state of Italy. 

Here you can read Part 1 of the series.

In CoinsWeekly you can also read a comprehensive Auction Preview.

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