Peter of Savoy (DNB00)

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PETER of Savoy, Earl of Richmond (d. 1268), ninth Count of Savoy, and marquis in Italy, was seventh son of Thomas I of Savoy by Margaret de Faucigny. He was born at the castle of Susa in Italy, according to Guichenon in 1203, but perhaps the true date may be as much as ten years later (Mugnier, p. 159). Boniface of Savoy [q. v.], archbishop of Canterbury, was his younger brother, and Eleanor and Sanchia of Provence, the wives of Henry III and Richard of Cornwall, were his nieces. Peter was intended originally for an ecclesiastical career, and was made a canon of Valence in Dauphiné; in 1224 there is a reference to him as ‘clericus;’ in 1226 he is mentioned as canon of Lausanne and provost of Aosta (ib. p. 31; Wurstemberger, iv. 58, 65, 71–2; Carutti, i. 183), and in 1229 as provost of Geneva. In the latter year he was procurator of the see of Lausanne during a vacancy (Monumenta Historiæ Sabaudiæ, vol. iv. pt. i. p. 1308). But a few years later he resigned his ecclesiastical preferments, and in February 1234 married at Chatillon his cousin Agnes, daughter and heiress of Aymon, count of Faucigny (Carutti, i. 200; he obtained an indulgence for this marriage on 7 May 1247—ib. i. 266). After the death of their father Peter had been involved in a dispute with his brother, Amadeus IV, as to his inheritance; the matter was arranged on 23 July 1234, when Amadeus gave him the castles of Lompnes and S. Raimbert in Bugey (Wurstemberger, iv. 96). The ‘Chroniques de Savoye’ (Mon. Hist. Sabaud. i. 151–4, 162–5) represent Peter as making great conquests in the Pays de Vaud and Valais; but the narrative is very confused, and, so far as concerns Peter, to a large extent fabulous (Mugnier, p. 163). However, his marriage had secured him the prospect of a considerable territorial position, which he much increased by subsequent acquisitions. In 1237 he was engaged in warfare with William, count of Geneva, whose sons took him prisoner, and on 12 May Amadeus intervened on his behalf (Wurstemberger, iv. 110, 251). On 23 June 1240 he accepted the advocacy of the monastery of Payerne in Vaud (ib. iv. 130). He was at this time styled Count of Romont.

About the end of 1240 Peter went to England, at the invitation of Henry III, who gave him large estates and made him Earl of Richmond. He was knighted by Henry on 5 Jan. 1241 in Westminster Abbey, and on the following day the king held a great feast in his honour (Matthew Paris, iv. 85). Later in the year he proposed to hold a tournament at Northampton, which was prohibited by the king, out of favour, as it was alleged, for the foreigners, whose defeat seemed probable (ib. iv. 88). On 28 Sept. Peter received the castle of Lewes, but shortly afterwards, fearing the envy of Earl Richard of Cornwall [q. v.] and the English nobles, begged leave to return to Savoy. Henry at first granted him permission, but afterwards recalled him, and Peter reluctantly resumed the office of sheriff of Kent, with the castles of Rochester and Dover, and the wardenship of the Cinque ports (ib. iv. 177–8; Flores Historiarum, ii. 251; Doyle). Peter is mentioned as one of the royal councillors in January 1242, and in February was sent with Peter of Aigueblanche [q. v.], the Savoyard bishop of Hereford, on a mission to prepare for Henry's intended expedition to Poitou. He escaped a French ambush with difficulty, and returned to England shortly before Easter (Matt. Paris, iv. 187, 190). It was perhaps in view of this expedition that in June 1241 Peter had been directed to obtain the services of the Count of Chalon and William of Vienne (Fœdera, i. 395). On 5 May 1242 he surrendered the castle of Dover, and on 13 May apparently sailed with Henry to Poitou. On 26 May Henry, who was then at Pons in Saintonge, gave Peter formal direction to negotiate a marriage between Richard of Cornwall and Sanchia of Provence. With this purpose Peter was present as Richard's proctor at Tarascon on 19 July (Carutti, i. 237; Wurstemberger, iv. 154). After a short visit to Savoy he returned to England in September, and in the following year rejoined Henry, with whom he was present at Bordeaux on 5 July 1243 (Mugnier, p. 43). According to Matthew Paris (iv. 365), Peter was one of the king's messengers to the magnates in the parliament of 1244. But Peter seems to have returned to his native country in the summer of this year. According to the ‘Chroniques de Savoye,’ the Count of Geneva had attacked his lands in Vaud, and Henry supplied him with men and money for the war (Mon. Hist. Sabaud. i. 167–8). During his stay abroad Peter materially extended his power by means of friendly agreements with the bishops of Lausanne and Sion, and the lords of Fruence (ib. vol. iv. pt. ii. pp. 1443–6, 1460; Carutti, i. 251–3; Wurstemberger, iv. 177–81, 195, 198).

Peter returned to England early in 1247, bringing with him a bevy of foreign ladies to be married to English nobles; two were married to Edmund de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, and Richard, son of Hubert de Burgh [q. v.] (Matt. Paris, iv. 598, 628). This proceeding excited much indignation in England, and the feeling was perhaps increased by Peter's obtaining the wardship of various young nobles, e.g. of John, earl of Warenne [q. v.], in 1241, of John Gifford [q. v.] in 1248, and of Robert Ferrers, earl of Derby [q. v.], in 1257 (Fœdera, i. 399; Wurstemberger, iv. 245, 338, 341, 450, 676; for other instances, see Mugnier, p. 83; Cal. of Documents relating to Scotland, i. 1954). Peter was present in the parliament of February 1248 (Matt. Paris, v. 5). In October 1249 he received the castles and honours of Hastings and Tickhill, and was one of the ambassadors appointed to treat with France (Doyle; Wurstemberger, iv. 240). On 5 March 1250 he had power to prolong the truce with France, being associated for this purpose with Simon de Montfort (Shirley, ii. 60). From Paris he went on to Savoy, and on 29 June made an agreement with William, count of Geneva, by which the latter accepted him for lord (Mon. Hist. Sabaud. vol. iv. pt. ii. p. 1490; Wurstemberger, iv. 249–54; Carutti, i. 286). At the same time he was engaged in a quarrel with Albert Seigneur de la Tour du Pin in Dauphiné, which was settled by the mediation of Peter de Grandson in September (ib. i. 289). During this visit, as on his last one, Peter contrived to materially increase his possessions in Vaud (Mugnier, pp. 87–8), and on 20 Aug. 1251 his father-in-law made a donation of Faucigny in his favour (Mon. Hist. Sabaud. vol. iv. pt. ii. p. 1501).

After extending, it is said, his journey to Italy (Mugnier, p. 92), Peter returned to England, and on 4 Jan. 1252 was one of the arbiters to decide the amount due to Simon de Montfort for his expenses in Gascony (Shirley, ii. 69). Peter had adopted a moderate attitude in English politics, and was now and for some years to come on friendly terms with Earl Simon, to whom his services at this juncture were of special advantage (cf. Marsh, Epistolæ ap. Mon. Franciscana, pp. 123, 152; Bémont, p. 93). This did not interfere with Peter's friendship for the king. According to Matthew Paris (v. 356), in this same year (1252) he presumed on Henry's favour to oppress the abbey of Jervaux. It is probable, therefore, that the letter in which John of Brittany intervened on behalf of Jervaux (Shirley, ii. 30) belongs to this time. Peter was present in the parliament of April-May 1253, and now or previously undertook to join in Henry's intended crusade (Fœdera, i. 487, 489). In August he accompanied Henry to Gascony, where he remained, with some intervals, till October 1254 (ib. i. 501, 527–8; Rôles Gascons, i. 2083, 2566, 4131, 4224; Matt. Paris, v. 410; Mugnier, pp. 104, 106). He was employed in the negotiations with the French court in May 1254, and in those as to Sicily with the pope. In November he went to Savoy; his brother Amadeus had died in the previous year, and Peter and Philip of Savoy renewed their old claim to a further share of their father's lands; this question was settled by arbitration in February 1255 (ib. pp. 116–17; Wurstemberger, iv. 386–7). Peter remained in Savoy till May, when Adolph of Waldeck, as vicar of the empire, invited him to become protector of Berne, Morat, and Hasle (ib. iv. 393–7). About the same time he was associated with Simon de Montfort in a commission to treat with Louis of France (Shirley, ii. 117). But on 8 June he was at Lyons, where he made a will (Mon. Hist. Sabaud. vol. iv. pt. ii. pp. 1535–6). There was some idea that he might return to Gascony, and Henry directed his son Edward to be guided by his advice (Fœdera, i. 560). But Peter went back to Savoy, where in August he entertained William de Kilkenny [q. v.] at Belley (Matt. Paris, v. 508). Thomas of Savoy had been imprisoned by the citizens of Turin, and in 1256 Peter, with his brothers Philip and Boniface, laid siege to that city in order to rescue him (ib. v. 548, 564).

In June 1257 Peter was appointed to negotiate with France, as the colleague of Simon de Montfort and with John Mansel [q. v.], as to the Sicilian business with the pope (Fœdera, i. 627–34). But in October he was still at Chillon and St. Maurice (Mugnier, p. 133; Wurstemberger, iv. 469–71), though he probably went to Paris soon after, and in February 1258 crossed over to England (Matt. Paris, v. 650). He was present with the king at Westminster on 8 March (ib. v. 672), and in the parliament which met in the following month. He joined with Simon de Montfort and the Earls of Norfolk and Hereford in the solemn confederation on 12 April (Bémont, p. 159), and therefore clearly supported the baronial policy which forced Henry to accept the committee of twenty-four. Though not a member of the original committee, Peter was on 8 May sent, with Simon de Montfort, to renew the truce with France (Fœdera, i. 654). At the parliament of Oxford in June he was chosen one of the council of fifteen, and also one of the twenty-four commissioners of the aid (Ann. Mon. i. 449–50). He took part in the action of the barons against the Poitevins, and joined in the letter to the pope against Aymer or Æthelmær de Valence (d. 1260) [q. v.] (Fœdera, i. 662). In August he was one of the ambassadors to treat with Scotland (ib. i. 668), and in January 1259 was one of the commissioners sent to meet Richard of Cornwall and receive his oath to abide by the provisions (Matt. Paris, v. 732). During the summer of 1259 he was employed in the negotiations for peace with France (Shirley, ii. 138; Fœdera, i. 678–81), and in arranging the marriage of Henry's daughter Beatrix with John of Brittany. That prince laid claim to his ancestral earldom of Richmond, and Henry promised to grant his wish if Peter would agree to the surrender (ib. i. 682, 693). Eventually it was arranged that John should receive as compensation a pension of two thousand marks, and Peter retained the earldom till 1266 (Wurstemberger, iv. 527, 533, 564, 567, 708; Shirley, ii. 210). Peter was with the king in France at the end of 1259. He had always belonged to the moderate section of the baronial party, and, as the breach between Richard de Clare and Simon de Montfort became manifest, passed over to the royal side. As a consequence, Earl Simon procured his removal from the council (Bémont, pp. 187, 351). Peter was instrumental in effecting the reconciliation between Henry and his son Edward in 1260, and was one of the king's advisers in his breach of the provisions in 1261 (Flores Historiarum, iii. 255; Cont. Gervase, ii. 211, 213; Ann. Mon. iv. 128). It was alleged that Richard de Clare was poisoned at Peter's table in July 1262 (ib. iii. 219).

When the war broke out in 1263 the hostility of the English towards all foreigners compelled Peter to leave the country. His nephew Boniface, count of Savoy, had just been defeated in Piedmont, and lay dying in prison at Turin. Peter was at Chambéry on 7 June; three days later he took the titles of Count of Savoy and marquis in Italy, in succession to Boniface. Shortly afterwards he crossed the Alps, and reduced Turin to submission. He returned north in time to attend the conference at Boulogne in September (Cont. Gervase, ii. 225). On 17 Oct. King Richard invested him with his county at Berkhampstead, and made him vicar of the empire in Savoy, Chablais, and Aosta, and granted him the lands of Hartmann de Kybourg in Vaud (Wurstemberger, iv. 600–28). In December Henry vainly endeavoured to obtain Peter's admission to Dover (Cont. Gervase, ii. 230). Peter took no part in the war of 1264; in June he was with Queen Eleanor at St. Omer, endeavouring to collect a force for the invasion of England, and during the autumn was at Damme in Flanders with a like purpose (Chron. Edward I and Edward II, i. 64; Wurstemberger, iv. 647–55; Mugnier, pp. 149–56). It is possible that he may have afterwards crossed over to his castle of Pevensey, and defended it in person against the younger Simon de Montfort, and he was perhaps at Pevensey in March 1265, when he was summoned to attend at London on 1 June (Fœdera, i. 601; BéMONT, p. 234). However, in May he was certainly at Romont in Vaud, and probably did not again return to England (Wurstemberger, iv. 684–5). After the battle of Evesham, restitution of Peter's lands, which had been seized by the barons, was ordered to be made on 12 Sept.; but before 6 May 1266 the earldom of Richmond was bestowed on John of Brittany, though Peter does not appear to have abandoned his claim to it (Fœdera, i. 817, 835; Wurstemberger, iv. 749, 760). In October 1265 Peter became involved in a war with Rudolph of Hapsburg, the future emperor, in defence of his sister, Margaret of Kybourg. This quarrel was terminated by a treaty at Morat on 8 Sept. 1267 (ib. iv. 696, 739). Peter died on 16 or 17 May 1268, after a long illness, probably at Pierre-Châtel in Petit-Bugey, and not, as is sometimes stated, at Chillon (ib. iii. 116–17, iv. 752; Mugnier, p. 363). He was buried in the abbey of Hautecombe on 18 May (Mon. Hist. Sabaud. i. 174, 674; the date of his death has been wrongly given as 7 June).

By his wife, who survived him, he had an only daughter, Beatrix (d. 1310), married as a child in 1241 to Guy VII of Dauphiné, and after Guy's death to Gaston of Béarn in 1273 (Wurstemberger, iv. 149, 813). By his last will, dated 7 May 1268, Peter left most of his English property to his niece Eleanor. His palace in London was bequeathed to the hospice of the Great St. Bernard, from which community Eleanor purchased it. This palace, outside the city of London, ‘in vico vocato le Straund,’ had been the house of Brian de Lisle, and was bestowed on Peter by Henry in 1246 (Carutti, i. 263). Eleanor gave it to her son Edmund. To these circumstances the historic Savoy palace owes its name and its still subsisting association with the duchy of Lancaster. The famous castle of Chillon in Vaud is even now much as Peter made it when it was his favourite residence. In 1250 he had acquired from the church of St. Maurice in Chablais the ring of St. Maurice (ib. i. 290). This ring was afterwards used in the investiture of the counts and dukes of Savoy, as it had been in that of the ancient kings of Burgundy.

Peter is described in the ‘Chroniques de Savoye’ as ‘a prudent man, proud, hardy, and terrible as a lion; who so held himself in his time that he put many folk in subjection under him, and was so valiant that men called him “le petit Charlemagne”’ (Mon. Hist. Sabaud. i. 146, cf. 605, 672). His good government and wise legislation endeared him to his subjects; while his acquisitions in Vaud and Valais materially increased the power of his family, though they afforded a subject of dispute between the heirs of his daughter and his successors as count of Savoy. In English politics his position must be clearly distinguished from that held by Henry's Poitevin kinsmen, or even by his own brother, Boniface. Matthew Paris (iv. 88) calls him, with justice, ‘vir discretus et providus;’ he was the wisest of Henry's personal friends and counsellors; but, while he remained loyal to the king, he had a just appreciation of his position as an English earl, and of the need for reform. It was unfortunate for Henry that Peter's obligations in his native land prevented him from identifying himself more entirely with his adopted country. [For Peter's English career the original authorities are: Matthew Paris, Annales Monastici, Flores Hist., Cont. of Gervase of Canterbury, Marsh's Letters in Monumenta Franciscana (there is a friendly letter to Peter on pp. 282–4), Shirley's Royal and Historical Letters (all these in Rolls Ser.); Liber de Antiquis Legibus, and Rishanger's De Bellis, &c., (both in Camden Soc.); Rymer's Fœdera, orig. edit.; Rôles Gascons, vol. i. (Documents inédits sur l'Hist. de France); Bain's Cal. of Documents relating to Scotland, vol. i. For his history in Savoy see Monumenta Historiæ Patriæ Sabaudiæ, esp. vol. i. Scriptores, and vol. iv. Chartæ (the Chroniques in vol. i. are of late date, and very confused and legendary; they make Peter a knight of the Garter); Carutti's Regesta Comitum Sabaudiæ; Gingins's Les Établissements du Comte Pierre II; Guichenon's Histoire de la royale Maison de Savoie, i. 280–7, and the Preuves in iv. 73–9. Wurstemberger's Peter der Zweite Graf von Savoyen, Zürich, 1858, is an elaborate monograph in 4 vols., the last containing a collection of documents and extracts illustrative of Peter's history. See also Mugnier's Les Savoyards en Angleterre (which was published at Chambéry in 1890); Bémont's Simon de Montfort; Prothero's Life of Simon de Montfort; Blaauw's Barons' War; Whitaker's Hist. of Richmondshire; Doyle's Official Baronage, iii. 111–12.]

C. L. K.