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Renaissance Dynasticism and Apanage Politics: Jacques de Savoie-Nemours, 1531–1585

by Matthew Vester Truman State University
Pub Date:
Pbk 304 pages
AU$89.00 NZ$92.17
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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One of the most brilliant courtiers and military leaders in Renaissance France, Jacques de Savoie, duke of Nemours, was head of the cadet branch of the house of Savoy, a dynasty that had ruled over a collection of lands in the Western Alps since the eleventh century. Jacques’ cousin Emanuel Filibert, duke of Savoy and ruler of the Sabaudian lands, fought against Jacques, and each expanded their influence at the other’s expense, while also benefitting from the other’s position. This study examines the complex and rich relationship of the noble cousins that spanned the battlefields, bedchambers, courts, and backrooms of taverns from Paris to Turin to the frontiers between the Genevois and Geneva. Each prince played key roles in sixteenth-century European politics due to their individual and dynastic identities. Jacques’ apanage of the Genevois was a virtual state-within-a-state, the institutional expression of a simultaneously competitive and cooperative relationship between two branches of a sovereign house. Here Matthew Vester provides a new picture of the nobility and of the European political landscape that moves beyond old views and taps into the unspoken cultural rules governing dynastic relations.

Maps, Portraits, and Figures


1. Dynasties and Political Culture in Renaissance Europe

2. Violence and Honor: Jacques de Savoie in the Service of Henry II, 1546–­1558

3. Honor, Sexuality, and Marriage in the Françoise de Rohan Scandal

4. Treaties, Tragedy, Tumults, and the First War of Religion, 1558–­1563

5. The Apanage of the Genevois and Its New Duchess, 1564–­1566

6. Renaissance Warrior and Courtier, ca. 1566–­1570

7. Dynastic Prestige, A Self-­Regulating Mechanism: Dynastic Relations among Members of the House of Savoy

8. Local Political Autonomy in the Apanage of the Genevois

9. Conflicts of the Late 1570s

10. Piedmontese Postlude




“[review of the original French edition] This work effectively makes the point that in the sixteenth century, the leading families of Europe did not restrict their energies and interests to their own lands, but instead set their dynastic concerns in a broader perspective. Jacques de Savoie’s life and career provide an excellent illustration of this phenomenon. Vester’s work is well-researched and sets the account in its historical and historiographical context. … Scholars and graduate students focusing on patronage networks and dynastic rivalries in early modern Europe will find this work very helpful.”

Sixteenth Century Journal

Matthew Vester grew up in Virginia Beach, VA, attended university in Washington DC, and received his graduate training at the University of Virginia and UCLA. He taught at Southern Illinois University and is now a member of the History Department at West Virginia University. He and his wife Annastella have two children.