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The House of Savoy originated in the county of Savoy in the 11th century. The founder of the house was, according to popular tradition, a certain Beroldo, but historically, Humbert the Whitehanded is considered to be the earliest known ancestor. The family has ruled various territories in Europe, including Italy, France, Spain, and Greece. It first came to prominence in the 11th century, when Humbert became Count of Savoy. The succeeding counts of Savoy gradually expanded their territory, and by the 14th century they were one of the most powerful families in Europe. In 1416, the Counts of Savoy were elevated to the status of Dukes. The dukes of Savoy continued to expand their territory, although the later 15th and early 16th centuries saw a decline in the family's importance due to weak rulers. However, in 1559, it recovered most of Savoy under the terms of the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis, and from then on, it prospered considerably. In 1525, they had acquired the Duchy of Milan, which gave them control of a strategic land route between France and Italy. In 1714, the family was further rewarded for their loyalty to the Habsburg dynasty when they were granted the Kingdom of Sicily, then, that of Sardinia in 1720. In the 19th century, the family played a leading role in the unification of Italy. In 1861, Victor Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy, was proclaimed King of Italy, and the Savoy family finally achieved their dream of ruling a unified Italy. The Savoy family's rule of Italy came to an end in 1946, when the Italian monarchy was abolished following a referendum. This saw the family exiled and banned from returning to Italy. The ban was repealed in 2002. Today, the Savoy family remains one of the most important noble families in Europe.


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