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Thomas, Count of Savoy

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Title: Thomas, Count of Savoy  
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Subject: 1178 births, Boniface of Savoy (bishop), 1233 deaths, Amadeus II, Count of Savoy, Humbert I, Count of Savoy
Collection: 1178 Births, 1233 Deaths, Counts of Savoy, House of Savoy, People from Savoie
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Thomas, Count of Savoy

Thomas (Tommaso I; 1178 – 1 March 1233) was Count of Savoy from 1189 to 1233. He is sometimes numbered "Thomas I" to distinguish him from his son of the same name, who governed Savoy but was not count.

Thomas was born in Aiguebelle, the son of Humbert III of Savoy and Beatrice of Viennois. His birth was seen as miraculous; his monkish father had despaired of having a male heir after three wives. Count Humbert sought counsel from St. Anthelm, who blessed Humbert three times, and it was seen as a prophecy come true when Thomas was born shortly before Anthelm himself died on 26 June 1178. He was named in honour of Saint Thomas Becket.

Thomas was still a minor when his father died on 4 March 1189, and a council of regency was established, composed of his mother Beatrice, his father's cousin Boniface I of Montferrat, and the Bishop of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. He had reached his majority by August 1191. Thomas possessed the martial abilities, energy, and brilliance that his father lacked, and Savoy enjoyed a golden age under his leadership. Despite his youth he began the push northwest into new territories. In the same year he granted Aosta Valley the "Carta delle Franchigie", recognising the right to administrative and political autonomy. This right was maintained up until the eve of the French Revolution. Later he conquered Vaud, Bugey, and Carignano. He supported the Hohenstaufens, and was known as "Thomas the Ghibelline" because of his career as Imperial Vicar of Lombardy.


Thomas worked throughout his career to expand the control and influence of the County of Savoy. One of the key tools that he used was his large number of children, who he worked to get into positions of influence in neighboring regions. In part, this was done by getting many of his sons into episcopal offices in surrounding territories, in a time when bishops had temporal as well as spiritual authority.[1] In addition to Guglielmo and Bonifacio, who made their careers in the clergy, their brother Thomas started out as a canon at Lausanne and became prévôt of Valence by 1226.[2] Pietro was also a canon at Lausanne and served as acting bishop there until he was replaced in 1231.[3] In 1219 he worked to get his daughter Beatrice married to the fourteen-year-old Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Provence. This established a close relationship between the two adjoining counties which would help cement Savoy control over trade between Italy and France.[4]

Thomas also fought many battles to expand his control. In 1215, his troops fought in an alliance with Milan against Monferrato, destroying the town of Casale.[5] In 1222, he captured Cavour.[6]

Thomas also worked through diplomatic and economic means to expand his control. The county of Savoy long enjoyed control over critical passes through the Alps. In his quest to gain more control over Turin, Thomas made an agreement with their rival Asti to reroute their French trade around Turin through Savoyard lands in a treaty on 15 September 1224. In 1226, Emperor Frederick II came to northern Italy and named Thomas Imperial Vicar of Lombardy. In this role, he mediated in a Genoese rebellion and a dispute between the town of Marseille and their bishop.[7] Thomas also made a policy of granting franchises and charters to towns on key trade routes which enabled the merchant class to develop more wealth and built support for his rule.[8]

Thomas died at Moncalieri, Savoy.

Family and children

In 1195 he ambushed the party of Count William I of Geneva, which was escorting the count's daughter, Margaret of Geneva, to France for her intended wedding to King Philip II of France. Thomas carried off Marguerite and married her himself, producing some eight sons and six daughters.

  1. Amedeo, his immediate successor
  2. Umberto, d. between March and November 1223
  3. Tommaso, lord and then count in Piedmont and founder of a line that became the Savoy-Achaea
  4. Aimone, d. 30 August 1237, Lord of Chablais
  5. Guglielmo (William of Savoy), Bishop of Valence and Dean of Vienne
  6. Amadeo of Savoy, Bishop of Maurienne
  7. Pietro, who resided much in England, became Earl of Richmond, and ultimately in 1263 became the disputed count of Savoy
  8. Filippo, archbishop of Lyon, who resigned, through marriage became Count Palatine of Burgundy and ultimately in 1268 became the disputed count of Savoy
  9. Bonifacio who became archbishop of Canterbury
  10. Beatrice of Savoy, d. 1265 or 1266, married in December 1219 to [[Ramon Berenguer
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