Humbert I of Savoy

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Umberto I (c. 980–1047/1048) (in French, Humbert aux blanches-mains; in Italian, Umberto Biancamano) was the first Count of Savoy from 1032, when the County of Vienne, which had been sold to the Archdiocese of Vienne, was divided between the County of Albon and the Maurienne. Humbert came of noble stock, possibly from Saxony,[1] Italy, Burgundy or Provence.

He is also called Umberto the White-Handed (French: Humbert aux Blanches-Mains; Italian: Umberto Biancamano) reportedly to signify his generosity. However, this posthumously applied title may derive from a textual mistranslation of an early Latin record which actually refers to the walls of his castle, not his hands, as white.[2]

During the wars between Rudolph III of Burgundy and the Emperor Henry II, Umberto supported the latter with provisions and soldiers because he was related to the imperial family by marriage. Thus, in 1003, the emperor installed him as the Count of Aosta, a mountainous region then a part of Burgundy but today within Italy, and granted him the northern Viennois as a reward. Umberto in turn protected the right flank of Henry's army during his subsequent invasion of Italy in 1004.

Umberto's lands were essentially autonomous after the death of Henry. Their mountainous inaccessibility and their minor importance lent them to being overlooked and ignored in the power struggles which inevitably followed the death of the emperor. In 1032, Umberto received the Maurienne, his native country, from the Emperor Conrad II, whom he had helped in his Italian campaigns against Aribert, Archbishop of Milan.

He died at Hermillon, a town in the Maurienne region of present day Savoie, France.


Umberto married Ancilla (Auxilia or Ancilia) of Lenzburg, the daughter of the master of ceremonies of Burgundy, and had at least four sons:

Some authors believe that he had additional sons.


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