French became the civil status language of the duchy in the 15th century

“In the 14th and 15th centuries, all official acts of county, then ducal, administration, such as donations, tributes or agreements, were drawn up in Latin by public notaries who recorded them in their protocols. Savoy presents a curious linguistic situation. It extended to the north in the Franco-Provençal country and to the south in the Piedmontese-speaking country. Its counts were French-speaking and used French in their private correspondence; but Latin was the only language that held power. It appears that the local language never entered the administrative writings of the principality. »16 André Perret also underlines that «the written language is first Latin, then French will compete with Latin» 17. However, according to André Perret, in Latin texts and French writings “the words of petois, clothed in the Latin endings, […] especially in connection with specific terms for dwellings and mountain equipment, mountain pastures” life of” 17. Historian Jean-Louis Goulin also points out that “the vernacular Written usage was not entirely foreign to the central administration of the former Kingdoms of Savoy. 18 During the fourteenth century, “documents apparently in the Franco-Provençal dialect script and other French scripts” seem to have co-existed. » 18.19

French became the civil status language of the duchy in the 15th century and was made official by the Edict of Villers-Cotterets of 1539, as the duchy was then occupied by 18,20 French troops. But this application seems to have been very random.

The use of French begins in the County of Savoie where documents from the 13th century21 were written exclusively on the French side. French was the vehicular language from the fourteenth century and it became the administrative language during the reign of Duke Emmanuel-Philibert after an edict of 1121 or 15 February 1560, replacing it with Latin in acts of the courts22. This decision applies to Bougie and Val d’Ouest after the edict of Rivoli (February 22, 1561), which also modifies the previous prescription and specifies the rules of application23,22. At the same time, the Duke of Savoy declared Italian derived from Tuscan as the administrative language in his lands on the Italian side and in the county of Nice22.

French was indeed the language of the administration, but also of the court, as well as of the upper strata of the population (aristocracy and part of the bourgeoisie). Both public and notarial acts, but also sermons use French 24.

The population, for its part, uses a patois17 – Gianni Mombello (1933–2005), professor of the history of the French language at the University of Turin, in an article spoke of a “vernacular language”17 -, derived from a local dialect Hui Romanesque, Francoprovencal, with local nuances related to such and such valleys, or even villages24.

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