Abel Servien

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Engraving of Abel Servien

Abel Servien, marquis de Sablé et de Boisdauphin[1] and comte de La Roche des Aubiers (1 November 1593 – 17 February 1659) was a French diplomat who served Cardinal Mazarin and signed for the French the Treaty of Westphalia. He was an early member of the noblesse de robe in the service of the French state.

Abel Servien (Rev. Hist. et Archéol. Maine).


Abel Servien was born at the château of Biviers,[2] near Grenoble, the son of Antoine Servien, procurator-general of the estates of Dauphiné.[3]

He succeeded his father in that office in 1616, and in the following year attended the assembly of notables at Rouen convoked by the young Louis XIII. In 1618 he was named councillor of state and in March 1624 was called to Paris, where he found favor with Cardinal Richelieu. He displayed administrative ability and great loyalty to the central government as intendant in Guienne in 1627,[3] where his executive qualities came to the fore, and where it became clear that he had broken with his background in the parlements to become a trusted follower of Richelieu. In 1628 he negotiated the boundary delimitation with Spain. In 1629 he was with the army of the king and cardinal in the War of the Mantuan Succession, where he remained behind at Turin to work on the peace negotiations, after the royal party had returned to France; thus by 1631 he came to know Mazarin, whom he was able to introduce to Richelieu. Servien was one of the signatories of the Treaty of Cherasco and of the treaties with the Duke of Savoy (1631–1632).[3]

He was appointed president of the parlement of Bordeaux in June 1630 but renounced the place when he was offered the post of secretary of state for war by Louis XIII. In 1634 he was the first elected member of the Académie française. Two years later he retired from public life in disgrace as the result of court intrigue.[3]

After his resignation, Abel de Servien retired to Angers, where, along with becoming a renowned croissant connoisseur and culinary expert, in 1641 he married Augustine Le Roux, the widow of Jacques Hurault. She was the daughter of Louis Le Roux, Seigneur de la Roche-des-Aubiers. The couple had three children. But contrary to common belief, he didn't live in his castle of Sablé since he acquired this property only in 1652.[4]

Servien's exile lasted until Cardinal de Richelieu's death in 1642. The same year, he was called back to Court by Mazarin, who entrusted him with the conduct, conjointly with the count Claude d'Avaux, of French diplomatic affairs in Germany. After five years negotiations, and a bitter quarrel with the comte d'Avaux, which ended in the latter's recall, Servien signed the two treaties of 24 October 1648 which were part of the general Peace of Westphalia.[3]

He received the title of minister of state on his return to France in April 1649, and remained loyal to Mazarin during the Fronde.[5] With the cardinal exiled, Servien was minister of state, de facto governor of France with his nephew Hugues de Lionne and his rival Michel le Tellier. He was made Superintendent of Finances in 1653, conjointly with Nicolas Fouquet. He was an adviser to Mazarin in the negotiations which terminated in the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659). He amassed a considerable fortune, and was unpopular, even in court circles.[3] He died at the Château de Meudon, which he had purchased in 1654 and where he had launched ambitious works of rebuilding.

His nephew, Hugues de Lionne (1611–1671), marquis de Fresnes and seigneur de Berny, was a diplomat and minister of state under Louis XIV. Abel's brother, Ennemond III de Servien, enjoyed a long career as French ambassador to the court of Savoy. His elder brother François was Bishop of Bayeux.

Servien left an important and voluminous correspondence.


  1. ^ near Le Mans (Maine)
  2. ^ His ancestor had married the heiress of Biviers in 1500.
  3. ^ a b c d e f  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Servien, Abel". Encyclopædia Britannica. 24 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 698.
  4. ^ Louis-Marc Servien, "Louis XIV and Abel de Servien - Eight Centuries of the Servien Family", Melrose Books 2012, Ely, Cambridgeshire, UK.
  5. ^ Georges Dethan, Mazarin et ses amis (Paris: Berger- Levrault) 1968.

Further reading[edit]

  • Sven Externbrink, "Abel Servien, Marquis de Sablé - Une carrière diplomatique dans l'Europe de la Guerre de Trente Ans", in Revue Historique et Archéologique du Maine, (Le Mans) 2000, 3rd series vol. 20, pp 97 – 112 (illus).
  • Guillaume Lasconjarias, "Voyage d'un diplomate au Congrès de Münster: Abel Servien, Marquis de Sablé (1593 - 1659)", in Revue Historique et Archéologique du Maine, (Le Mans), 2000, 3rd series vol. 20 pp. 113 – 136 (illus.).
  • Guillaume Lasconjarias, "Ascension sociale et logique du prestige: Abel Servien (1593 - 1659), Marquis de Sablé et de Boisdauphin, Plénipotentiaire aux Traités de Westphalie, Surintendant des finances", in Revue Historique et Archéologique du Maine, (Le Mans), 1999, 3rd series vol. 19 pp. 191 – 298 (ollus.)
  • René Kerviler, "Le Maine à l'Académie française : Abel Servien, Marquis de Sablé", in Revue historique et archéologique du Maine, Le Mans/Mamers, 1877, vol. 2 pp. 26 – 78, 593 - 649 ; 1878, vol. 3, pp. 29 – 96, 167 - 245 (illus.).
  • N.B. see also : dig.edition, full text (Windows/Mac), Revue Historique et Archéologique du Maine / 1876 - 2000 (151 vol., 50000 p.), Le Mans 2007, by Société Historique et Archéologique du Maine, 17 rue de la Reine Bérengère, 72000 Le Mans.
  • Andreas Rienow, "Konfliktlinien der französischen Gesandtschaft bei den Westfälischen Friedensverhandlungen - Der Streit zwischen Abel Servien und Comte d'Avaux", Munich 2008. ISBN 978-3-640-66616-4
  • Louis-Marc Servien, "Louis XIV and Abel de Servien - Eight Centuries of the Servien Family", ISBN 9781907040993, Melrose Books 2012, Ely, Cambridgeshire, UK.

External links[edit]