Pierre Séguier (French: [pjɛʁ seɡje]; 28 May 1588 – 28
January 1672) was a French statesman, chancellor of France from 1635.
1.1 Early years
Séguier was born in
Paris to a prominent legal family originating in
Quercy. His grandfather,
Pierre Séguier (1504–1580), was président
à mortier in the parlement of
Paris from 1554 to 1576, and the
chancellor's father, Jean Séguier, a seigneur d'Autry, was civil
Paris at the time of his death in 1596.
Pierre was brought up by his uncle, Antoine Séguier, president and
mortier in the parlement, and became master of requests in 1620. From
1621 to 1624 he was intendant of Guyenne, where he became closely
allied with the duc d'Épernon. In 1624 he succeeded to his uncle's
charge in the parlement, which he filled for nine years.
In this capacity he showed great independence with regard to the royal
authority; but when in 1633 he became keeper of the seals under
Richelieu, he proceeded to bully and humiliate the parlement in his
turn. He became allied with the cardinal's family by the marriage of
his daughter Marie with Richelieu's nephew, Pierre César du Cambout,
marquis de Coislin, and in December 1635 he became chancellor of
France. In 1637 Séguier was sent to examine the papers of the queen,
Anne of Austria, at Val-de-Grâce. According to Anquetil, the
chancellor saved her by warning her of the projected inquisition.
In 1639 Seguier was sent to punish the
Normans for the insurrection of
the Nu-Pieds, the military chief of the expedition, Gassion, being
placed under his orders. He put down pillage with a strong hand, and
was sufficiently disinterested to refuse a gift of confiscated Norman
lands. He was the submissive tool of Richelieu in the prosecutions of
François Auguste de Thou
François Auguste de Thou in 1642. His authority
survived the changes following on the successive deaths of Richelieu
and Louis XIII, and he was the faithful servant of
Anne of Austria
Anne of Austria and
of Mazarin. His resolute attitude towards the parlement of
the chancellor one of the chief objects of the hatred of the
Pierre Séguier entering
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV of France in 1660,
painted by Charles Le Brun, c. 1670.
On 25 August 1648, Séguier was sent to the parlement to regulate its
proceedings. On the way he was assailed by rioters on the Pont-Neuf,
and sought refuge in the house of Louis Charles d'Albert, duc de
Luynes. In the course of the concessions made to the
Fronde in 1650,
Séguier was dismissed from his office of keeper of the seals.
He spent part of his retirement at Rosny, with his second daughter
Charlotte and her husband, the duke of Sully. He was recalled in April
1651, but six months later, on the king's attaining his majority,
Séguier was again disgraced, and the seals were given to President
Mathieu Molé, who held them with a short interval till his death in
1656, when they were returned to Séguier. Séguier lived for some
time in extreme retirement in Paris, devoting himself to the affairs
of the academy.
Paris was occupied by the princes in 1652, he was for a short
time a member of their council, but he joined the king at
August, and became president of the royal council. After Mazarin's
death in 1661 Séguier retained but a shadow of his former authority.
He showed a great violence in his conduct of the case against Fouquet,
voting for the death of the prisoner.
In 1666 Séguier was placed at the head of a commission called to
simplify the police organization, especially that of Paris; and the
consequent ordinances of 1667 and 1670 for the better administration
of justice were drawn up by him.
Séguier died at
Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1672.
Séguier was a man of great learning, and throughout his life a patron
of literature. In December 1642 he succeeded Richelieu as official
"protector" of the Académie française, which from that time until
his death held its sessions in his house. His library was one of the
most valuable of his time, only second, perhaps, to the royal
collection. It contained no less than 4000 manuscripts in various
languages, the most important section of them being the Greek
manuscripts. A catalogue was drawn up in Latin and in French
(1685–1686) by the duc de Coislin. The chancellor's great-grandson,
Henri Charles du Cambout de Coislin, bishop of Metz, commissioned
Bernard de Montfaucon, a
Benedictine of the Congregation of St Maur,
to prepare a catalogue of the Greek manuscripts. with commentaries.
This work was published in folio 1715, as Bibliotheca Coisliniana,
olim Segueriana.... The greater part of the printed books were
destroyed by fire, in the abbey of St Germain-des-Prés, in 1794.
Séguier is a minor character in The Three Musketeers.
F Duchesne, Hist. des chanceliers de France (fol. 1680); for the
affair of Val-de-Grâce, Catalogue de documents historiques ...
relatifs au règne de Louis XIII (Paris, 1847); also R Kerviler, Le
Chancelier P. Séguier (Paris, 1874). Great part of his correspondence
is preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Séguier,
Pierre". Encyclopædia Britannica. 24 (11th ed.). Cambridge University
Press. pp. 583–584.
Académie française seat 1
Pierre Séguier (1635)
Claude Bazin de Bezons (1643)
Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1684)
Jean d'Estrées (1711)
Marc-René d'Argenson (1718)
Jean-Joseph Languet de Gergy
Jean-Joseph Languet de Gergy (1721)
George-Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon (1753)
Félix Vicq-d'Azyr (1788)
François-Urbain Domergue (1803)
Ange-François Fariau (1810)
François-Auguste Parseval-Grandmaison (1811)
Narcisse-Achille de Salvandy
Narcisse-Achille de Salvandy (1835)
Émile Augier (1857)
Charles de Freycinet
Charles de Freycinet (1890)
Émile Picard (1924)
Louis de Broglie
Louis de Broglie (1944)
Michel Debré (1988)
François Furet (1997)
René Rémond (1998)
Claude Dagens (2008)
ISNI: 0000 0001 2100 8595
BNF: cb119243273 (data)