Catalogue description Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Savoy and Sardinia

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Details of SP 92
Reference: SP 92
Title: Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Savoy and Sardinia

Mainly in-letters to the Secretary of State from the English (later British) ambassadors, ministers and envoys to Savoy and Sardinia. Most of the despatches are dated at Turin. However, some original despatches from the consuls at Turin and Cagliari in Sardinia are included in the series and a few despatches also from the vice-consuls at Nice and Villefranche-sur-Mer. Many draft replies by the Secretary of State are also included, and a number of petitions, royal letters, and copies of intercepted despatches.

Date: 1579-1780

The records are mostly arranged in chronological order (with some overlapping of dates for volumes containing draft letters from the Secretary of State and occasionally for volumes for different envoys present simultaneously in Turin). The series ends with a supplementary series, also arranged in chronological order.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English, French and Italian
Physical description: 91 bundles and volumes
Publication note:

Selected documents dated before August 1589 are described in the Calendar of State Papers Foreign Series of the Reign of Elizabeth I ed A J Butler S C Lomas and R B Wernham (London 1901-1950). For references to the more important papers for the period August 1589 to December 1595 see the List and Analysis of State Papers Foreign Series Elizabeth I I-VI ed by Richard Bruce Wernham (London 1964-1993). Please speak to staff at the Map and Large Document Room enquiry desk for the precise location.

Administrative / biographical background:

By the fifteenth century the duchy of Savoy had expanded to include the principality of Piedmont. The capital, Turin, was besieged by the French in 1640 and again in 1706, when the French were defeated by Prince Eugene of Savoy. By the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the island of Sicily was ceded by Spain to Duke Victor Amadeus II of Savoy, who was recognised by the same treaty as ruler of Nice and King of Sicily.

In 1718 a Spanish army invaded the island and Victor Amadeus was unable to defend his kingdom without Austrian and British assistance. In 1720 he was forced by Austria to exchange Sicily for the island of Sardinia (which had also been Spanish until 1713, when it passed to Austria).

The kingdom of Sardinia, also known as the kingdom of Savoy-Sardinia, Sardinia-Piedmont or Piedmont-Sardinia, became in the nineteenth century the nucleus around which a united Italy was eventually formed.

Until the 1750s the kingdom of Savoy-Sardinia was politically much the most important to Britain of the many Italian states. This was inevitable as long as Britain was the enemy of France and the ally of Austria, since Savoy's geographical position made it a bulwark against French penetration of the Lombard plain. Moreover, with the acquisition of Sardinia and the status of a kingdom, Piedmont became important and powerful enough to act as a buffer state between France and Austria. The British mission to Savoy-Sardinia was regularly maintained from 1691 to 1789, with a gap from 1714 to 1720.

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