Thomas Francis, 1st Prince of Carignano

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Thomas Francis of Savoy (Italian Tommaso Francesco di Savoia, Principe di Carignano, French Thomas François de Savoie, Prince de Carignan; December 21, 1596 - January 22, 1656) was an Italian military commander, the founder of the Savoy-Carignano branch of the House of Savoy which reigned as kings of Sardinia from 1831 to 1861, and as kings of Italy from 1861 until the dynasty's deposition in 1946.



Born in Turin, Thomas was the youngest of the five legitimate sons of the sovereign Duke Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy by his consort Catherine Micaela of Spain, a daughter of King Philip II of Spain and the French princess Elizabeth of Valois. His mother died the following year. While still a young man, Thomas bore arms in the service of the king of Spain in Italy.[1]

Although in previous reigns, younger sons had been granted rich appanages in Switzerland (Genevois, Vaud), Italy (Aosta), or France (Nemours, Bresse), the Savoy dukes found that this inhibited their own aggrandizement while encouraging intra-dynastic strife and regional secession. Not only did Thomas have older brothers, he was but one of the twenty-one acknowledged children of Charles Emmanuel. While only nine of these were legitimate, the others, being the widowed duke's offspring by noble mistresses, appear to have been generously endowed or dowered during their father's lifetime.[2]

The seigneury of Carignan had belonged to the Savoys since 1418, and the fact that it was part of Piedmont, only twenty km. south of Turin, meant that it could be a "princedom" for Thomas in name only, being endowed neither with independence nor revenues of substance.[3] Instead of receiving a significant patrimony, Thomas was wed in 1625 to Marie de Bourbon, sister and co-heiress of Louis de Bourbon, comte de Soissons, who would be killed in 1641 while fomenting rebellion against Cardinal Richelieu.

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