Vittorio Amedeo II was born in Turin on May 14, 1666. His father died in 1675, when Vittorio Amedeo was only nine years old, the regency was entrusted to his mother, who also ruled over the age of Vittorio Amedeo.
With a fascinating and demiurgic personality but also a dark and shady character. Beloved and hated. Many anecdotes circulated about him. It was a park that bordered on the negligence and splendor of his court did not appeal to him; drastically reduced the expenses of representation and with the money saved financed the reform of the army and public offices. It is said that he disguised himself and turned at night to Turin, to hear the complaints of his people. He was nicknamed "renard", fox. Historical and psychological studies flourished on him.
He was nevertheless a great absolute monarch and at the same time also a great reformer. To him we owe the reform of the bureaucratic apparatus, the cadastre, assumptions according to capacity, the recovery of fiefs illegally owned by others, a concordat with the Pope.
To govern for a longer time, Giovanna abandoned her son in the company of dissolute youths with whom she devoted herself to parties, hunting and easy love. The young duke, however, even among the debauchery, soon realized the conditions in which his dominions had fallen and soon he decided to remove the government from his mother.
In 1679 Giovanna Battista, to prolong her power, planned the wedding of her son with her cousin, Isabella di Braganza, infanta of Portugal. The marriage contract provided for the immediate transfer of the Duke to Portugal, of which he would later become King; in this way the administration of Piedmont and Savoy would remain to the mother despite the greater age of the child.
Vittorio Amedeo pretended to comply with his mother's wishes, but when he arrived in Turin the Portuguese emissary who was to accompany the royal groom in Portugal, Vittorio Amedeo pretended to be ill and extremely poor in health. The Portuguese envoy hastened to inform his sovereign that he immediately decided the dissolution of the marriage contract.
After some time Vittorio Amedeo II asked to Louis XIV the permission to take the reins of the Savoy state, giving as guarantee of the intention to maintain good relations with France, the assurance that he would have married a lady chosen by him. In the affirmative answer, he informed the ministers that the mother's regency ceased and that the reins of the state passed to him.
In 1684, therefore, in order to finally take power, he had to marry the French cousin Anna d'Orleans. Obviously it was not a marriage of love, he had many lovers, who did not care to hide and that gave him at least five children. The last of his lovers, the Marquise of Spigno, who married morganatically, was, according to some, the cause of his downfall.
From Anna d'Orleans Vittorio Amedeo had six children: Maria Adelaide, married to Luigi di Borbone, Marianna, who lived less than a year, Maria Luisa Cristina, wife of Philip V of Bourbon, King of Spain, who remarried, Vittorio Amedeo, prince of Piedmont, Carlo Emanuele III, his successor and Emanuele Filiberto, who lived less than a year. He had two other children from the Countess of Verrua: Vittoria Francesca, in marriage to Vittorio Amedeo di Carignano, and Vittorio Francesco Filippo, Marquis of Susa.
At first he was reluctant to persecute the Protestants, as did his uncle, Louis XIV. In 1686, after many insistence and threats by the King of France he organized an expedition against the Waldensians. 11,000 survived, of which 3000 were converted and the other 8000 were imprisoned. Only 3841 were released and were exiled and the orphans received a Catholic education in the charity hospital.
When the Duke changed his allies and sided with Austria against France, some Waldensians, led by Abbot Arnaud, returned to Val Pellice, (the "glorieuse rentrée").
- On 4 June 1690 he joined the Quadruple Alliance with Holland, Spain and Austria (where his cousin Eugene of Savoy fought for the Emperor), and then broke with France who, in the following August, besieged Montmelian and he occupied Chambery.
Immediately the persecution of the Waldenses ceased and there was glorieuse rentrée.
The war involved huge expenses and terrible Piedmontese defeats: Carmagnola was razed to the ground, the castles of Venaria and Rivoli were looted and to Read more ... Marsaglia General Catinat inflicted a severe defeat to the Savoy, in 1693 with the death of 12,000 soldiers in the countryside between Volvera and Piossasco.
Turin, however, was not attacked because the French supplies were precarious and the Piedmontese, instead, reorganized quite quickly. After this phase only more pillaged and burnt countries remained, landed vines, devastated fields and the certainty that the next crops are lost: the famine. The town hall of Turin came to the aid of his king with funding and volunteers. At the end of 1693 Vittorio Amedeo broke away from Austria, concluded the treaties of Pinerolo and Ryswyk with Louis XIV; in 1697.
Continuing the Savoy tradition of doing politics through promising marriages he married his daughters Maria Adelaide to Delfino Luigi, Duke of Burgundy and Maria Luisa Gabriella to Philip V of Spain and Duke of Anjou.
On 5 January 1703 change of front: he returned with the Emperor Leopold I and provoked a war against France whose troops inflicted several defeats and besieged Turin in March 1706. During the siege the famous episode of Pietro Micca took place, he lost his life by setting fire to the dust of an underground mine, inflicting huge losses on the enemy.
On September 7, with the help of his cousin Eugenio, the Duke broke through the French lines and made a solemn entrance into the Savoy capital after vowing to elevate a basilica to GSuperga where he had decided on his battle plan. The celebrations for the victory were memorable. In 1707 he reconquered Nice and Susa. With a secret agreement the King of France, with which he was evidently connecting, promised Lombardy.
In 1713, with the treaty of Utrecht on 11 April, the Savoy took over and had the regions of Alexandria, Lomellina, Sesia, the Monferrato (promised by Emperor Leopold I in 1703) Ulzio, Gexilles, Cesana, Bardonecchia, Casteldelfino, and Finestrelle .
But the most brilliant result of these continuous changes of alliance (defined masterpiece of the diplomacy of the '700) was the acquisition of Sicily: the 2nd December following the Duke and the Duchess were consecrated King in Palermo. In that city they were greeted with a speech that presented Sicily as "the land of the barons". In fact, the number of nobles in proportion to the population was the highest in the world: this involved a frightening exploitation of the people by an uncontrollable local nobility. The former son-in-law of Vittorio Amedeo, the King of Spain, in accord with the great powers, claimed Sicily for himself and forced him to accept Sardinia in exchange.
Savoia was interested in being a king but in Sicily he could not and did not want to deal with it. Vittorio Amedeo accepted Sardinia, smaller and poorer but much closer and controllable, which allowed him to keep the most coveted thing: the title of king. Sicily did not go to Spain but to the Habsburg emperor. Philip V had Parma, Piacenza and Tuscany, which then passed to the Lorraine.
Vittorio Amedeo took care of the reform of his states. Very authoritarian, enigmatic, he did not trust his relatives. His was a bureaucratic absolutism: he organized a council of state of eight members, took control of the main cities through the vicars of police, and that of the provinces through the intendants, the intent was to control the nobility of the sword through the new nobility of a toga established by him.
He created new ministries: foreign, war, internal and agencies: finances, treasure, real home. He broke with Rome, in an attempt to impose his will on the Pope and the clergy.
In 1723 with the intention to make the laws clearer and more comprehensible, he published the Royal Constitutions. He was the first in Europe to organize a land registry, both to better understand the real economic possibilities of the kingdom and to increase control over the assets of nobles and clergy and, especially, to better predict tax revenues.
Although not very much brought to the sciences and the arts, it understood the potential and the political value and so put the university under control, of which it directly assumed the management and forced the students of the whole kingdom to reside in the College of the Provinces in Turin, he created the university library and entrusted to wonderful architects wonderful architectural works.
Turin was enlarged, reorganized and enriched with splendid buildings and structures. From Sicily, Vittorio Amedeo brought Filippo Juvarra to Turin to whom he designed splendid buildings, including the GStupinigi hunting lodge, the GSuperga basilica, the new façade of Palazzo Madama. At the Venaria Reale the Juvarra built the splendid gallery, the stable, the citroniera and the chapel of St. Hubert, with its fake dome.
In 1730, feeling that his mind was beginning to waver, he abdicated and retired with the morganatic bride Anna Carlotta Teresa Canalis of Cumiana, Marchesa di Spigno in Chambery. The Canalis was not noble enough to marry a king and the Council was against even their relationship but once they saw the two, who loved each other, they were married with a marriage that has value only in church and not in civil society and, therefore it has no political or dynastic effects. Also because of this union the motto of the House of Savoy, FERT: is translated with the phrase "Foemina erit ruina tua".
The following year, Vittorio Amedeo was struck by a stroke. His son Carlo Emanuele III visited and the former King, who had never shown great esteem in his son even when he was well, attacked him and insulted him.
After a month he recovered and went to Moncalieri pretended to make resolute and arrogant to return to the throne, because the heir, whose work he had never deigned to be interested in, was, in his opinion, manifestly incapable.
Consulted his collaborators, Carlo Emanuele, also in order to complete the same political project conceived by his father, he had him arrested and imprisoned in Rivoli and his wife was imprisoned in a reformatory for prostitutes in Ceva.
Some time later the Marquise of Spigno could rejoin her husband, who spent the last months of his life amidst fits of anger and apathy. Carlo Emanuele will not see him again. He died in Moncalieri on 31 October 1732 and was buried in the royal basilica of Superga, which he himself had built and which would become the burial place of the kings of Sardinia. After the death of the King, the Marquess, left free, shut herself up in a convent.