Portrait of Charles Emmanuel I (1562-1630), Duke of Savoy (1580-1630)
Charles Emmanuel I (Italian: Carlo Emanuele di Savoia, Duca di Savoia, Principe di Piemonte e Conte d'Aosta, Moriana e Nizza; 12 January 1562 – 26 July 1630), known as the Great, was the Duke of Savoy from 1580 to 1630. He was nicknamed Testa d'feu ("the Hot-Headed") for his rashness and military aggression. He was born in the Castle of Rivoli in Piedmont, the only child of Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy and Margaret of France, Duchess of Berry. He became duke on 30 August 1580. Well-educated, and intelligent, he spoke Italian, French and Spanish, as well as Latin. He proved an able warrior although short and hunchbacked. Being also ambitious and confident, he pursued a policy of expansion for his duchy, seeking to expand it into a kingdom. In the autumn of 1588, taking advantage of the civil war weakening France during the reign of his first cousin Henry III, he occupied the Marquisate of Saluzzo, which was under French protection. The new king, Henry IV, demanded the restitution of that land, but Charles Emmanuel refused, and war ensued. The broader conflict involving France and Spain ended with the Peace of Vervins (2 May 1598), which left the current but separate question of Saluzzo unsolved. After the Duke started talks with Spain, Henry IV threatened to return to war until, with the Treaty of Lyon (17 January 1601), Saluzzo went to Savoy in exchange for Bresse and other territories over the Alps. By terms of the treaty, the eradication of Protestants was to be carried on in the duchy. In 1602 Charles Emmanuel attacked the city of Geneva. On 11 December that year he led his troops to the city during the night and they surrounded the city walls by two in the morning. The Savoyard cuirassiers were ordered to dismount and climb the city walls in full armour as a shock tactic. However, the alarm was raised by a night watchman and Geneva's militia rose to meet the invaders. The attempted raid was a disastrous failure, and 54 Savoyards were killed, and many more were captured. Charles Emmanuel's army retreated in a panic and the Savoyard prisoners were executed. With the Treaty of Bruzolo (25 April 1610), Charles Emmanuel allied with France against Spain, but the assassination of Henry IV changed the situation, as the treaty was not recognized by Marie de' Medici, who immediately assumed regency for Henry's son Louis XIII, a minor. Nevertheless, Charles Emmanuel obtained the help of French troops to free Alba from the Spaniards (January 1617), as the new king resumed his father's alliance with Savoy. His sister Christine Marie was married to Charles Emmanuel's son, Victor Amadeus in 1619. In the First Genoese-Savoyard War of 1625, Charles Emmanuel tried with the help of France to obtain access to the Mediterranean Sea at the expense of Genoa. After Spanish intervention, the status-quo was restored in the Treaty of Monçon. However, when the French occupied Casale Monferrato during the War of the Mantuan Succession, Charles Emmanuel allied with Spain. When Richelieu invaded Piedmont and conquered Susa, the duke changed sides again and returned to an alliance with France. However, when Philip IV of Spain sent two invasion forces from Genoa and Como, Charles Emmanuel declared himself neutral, and in 1630 Richelieu ordered a French army to march into Savoy to force the duke to comply with the pacts. The French troops, soon backed by another army, occupied Pinerolo and Avigliana. The Savoy army under Victor Amadeus was defeated in Lower Valsusa. The duke died suddenly of a stroke at Savigliano in late July 1630. He was succeeded by his son Victor Amadeus.
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