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Charles Emmanuel II (June 20, 1634 – June 12, 1675) was Duke of Savoy from 1638 to 1675 and under regency of his mother Christine of France until 1648.

He was also Marquis of Saluzzo, Count of Aosta, Geneva, Moriana and Nice, as well as claimant king of Cyprus, Jerusalem and Armenia. At his death in 1675 his second wife Marie Jeanne Baptiste of Savoy-Nemours acted as Regent for their nine-year-old son.

He was born in Turin to Victor Amadeus I, Duke of Savoy, and Christine de Bourbon of France was the third child and second daughter of King Henri IV of France and Navarre his second wife Marie de’ Medici.

As a daughter of the king, she was a Daughter of France. She was a younger sister of Louis XIII of France and Elisabeth of France and an older sister of Nicholas Henri, Duke of Orléans, Gaston, Duke of Orléans and Henrietta Maria of France.

Christine was a sister-in-law of Felipe IV of Spain through Elisabeth and of Charles I of England through Henrietta Maria. As a child, she was raised under the supervision of the royal governess Françoise de Montglat.

Since Charles Emmanuel II was a maternal grandson of King Henri IV of France and his second wife Marie de’ Medici, he was therefore a First Cousin of Louis XIV of France and Navarre and Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland.

In 1638 at the death of his older brother Francis Hyacinth, Duke of Savoy, Charles Emmanuel II succeeded to the duchy of Savoy at the age of 4. His mother governed in his place, and even after reaching adulthood in 1648, he invited her to continue to rule. Charles Emmanuel continued a life of pleasure, far away from the affairs of state.

He became notorious for his persecution of the Vaudois (Waldensians) culminating in the massacre of 1655, known as Piedmontese Easter. The massacre was so brutal that it prompted the English poet John Milton to write the sonnet On the Late Massacre in Piedmont.

Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector, called for a general fast in England and proposed to send the British Navy if the massacre was not stopped while gathering funds for helping the Waldensians. Sir Samuel Morland was commissioned with that task. He later wrote The History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piemont (1658).

The 1655 massacre was only the beginning of a series of conflicts, the Savoyard–Waldensian wars (1655–1690), that saw Waldensian rebels use guerrilla warfare tactics against ducal military campaigns to enforce Roman Catholicism upon the entire population.

Only after the death of his mother in 1663, did he really assume power. He was not successful in gaining a passage to the sea at the expense of Genoa (Second Genoese–Savoyard War, 1672–1673), and had difficulties in retaining the influence of his powerful neighbour France.

But he greatly improved commerce and wealth in the Duchy, developing the port of Nice and building a road through the Alps towards France. He also reformed the army, which until then was mostly composed of mercenaries: he formed instead five Piedmontese regiments and recreated cavalry, as well as introducing uniforms. He also restored fortifications. He constructed many beautiful buildings in Turin[citation needed], for instance the Palazzo Reale.

He died on June 12, 1675, leaving his second wife as regent for his son. He is buried at Turin Cathedral.

Marriages and issue

Charles Emmanuel first met Marie Jeanne of Savoy in 1659 and fell in love with her. However, his mother disagreed with the pairing, and encouraged him to marry Françoise Madeleine d’Orléans, daughter of his maternal uncle Gaston, Duke of Orléans, the younger (brother of his mother Christine Marie) and his second wife Marguerite of Lorraine. From birth, she was styled Mademoiselle de Valois, derived from one of her father’s subsidiary titles.

They were married April 3, 1663. The couple had no issue. His mother died at the end of 1663, and his first wife died at the start of 1664.

This left him free to get married on May 20, 1665 to Marie Jeanne of Savoy, the eldest of five children born to Charles Amadeus, Duke of Nemours and his wife Princess Élisabeth de Bourbon-Vendôme. Through her mother, Marie Jeanne Baptiste was a great grand daughter of Henri IV of France via her father César de Bourbon, Légitimé de France, whose mother was Gabrielle d’Estrées.

This made her a half-first-cousin once removed of Louis XIV and a relation to most Catholic royalty at that time. She was a member of the Nemours cadet branch of the House of Savoy, which had settled in France in the sixteenth century.

Charles Emmanuel was succeed by his son Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia, future King of Sicily and later Sardinia; he married Anne Marie d’Orléans the daughter of Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, younger brother of Louis XIV, and Henrietta of England, the youngest daughter of Charles I of England. Her mother died at the Château de Saint-Cloud ten months after Anne Marie’s birth. A year later, her father married 19-year-old Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate, who became very close to her stepdaughters.

Charles Emmanuel II also recognized five of his illegitimate children by three different mistresses.