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Charles III, Duke of Savoy

Charles III of Savoy (October 10, 1486–August 1553), often called Charles the Good, was Duke of Savoy from 1504 to 1553, although most of his lands were ruled by the French between 1536 and his death.

He was the younger son of Philip (Filippo) the Landless, an aged younger son of the ducal family, and his second wife Claudine de Brosse of the family that unsuccessfully claimed the Duchy of Brittany. His grandparents were Duke Louis of Savoy and Anne of Cyprus. As a child, there were next to no expectations for him to succeed to any monarchy. He was christened as a namesake of the then-reigning Duke, Charles I of Savoy, the Warrior, his first cousin.

However, when ten years old, his father unexpectedly succeeded his grandnephew Charles II of Savoy as duke and head of the Savoy dynasty, which had now also received the titles of the kingdoms of Cyprus, Jerusalem and Armenia. However, Charles's father was not the heir general of the deceased duke, only the male heir. Jerusalem, Cyprus and certain other claims and possessions could go to a different heir, and they did, in principle. Charles's father was not ready to relinquish those, and he took such titles to his own titulary, staking a claim.

In 1497, Charles's half-brother Philibert the Handsome succeeded their father as Duke of Savoy, etc. Philibert however died childless in 1504, surprisingly, and now Charles succeeded, at age eighteen.

After 1499, the de jure rights of Jerusalem and Cyprus were lost to the Savoy family. Charles however, as some sort of heir-male, took those titles, which his successors also used. In 1713, Charles's great-great-great-grandson Victor Amadeus II of Savoy received confirmation to that title from the Kings of Spain and France, who also claimed it. The rights, according to succession of heirs general, i.e not excluding female lines, had gone, until Charles's death, to the French lords of La Tremoille, Princes of Talmond and Taranto.

Coat of Arms of the Counts of Savoy

Charles was allied with the Habsburg camp in Western European politics, where Francis I of France and Emperor Charles V battled for ascendancy. He married Beatrice of Portugal (1504-1538), daughter of Manuel I of Portugal and both first cousin and sister-in-law of the Emperor. They had nine children, but only one child Emanuele Filiberto reached adulthood.

The French invaded his duchy several times, and held almost all of his possessions from 1536 onwards. Thus duke Charles was one of the greatest losers in those struggles of the mighty, the small who was left crushed. He spent the rest of his life practically in exile, at the mercy of relatives.

He was the duke who imprisoned François Bonivard, the "prisoner of Chillon" in 1530.

Charles III, Duke of Savoy
Born: 10 October 1486 Died: August 1553
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Philibert II
Duke of Savoy
Succeeded by
Emmanuel Philibert


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