Joseph Marie Servan de Gerbey

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Joseph Servan (Album du Centenaire)

Joseph Marie Servan de Gerbey (14 February 1741 – 10 May 1808) was a French general. During the Revolution he served twice as Minister of War and briefly led the Army of the Western Pyrenees . His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 33.

France Republic with majority of territory in Europe and numerous oversea territories around the world

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.02 million. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

French Revolution Revolution in France, 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

Army of the Western Pyrenees

The Army of the Western Pyrenees was one of the Republican French armies of the French Revolutionary Wars. From April 1793 until 12 October 1795, the army fought in the Basque Country and in Navarre during the War of the Pyrenees. After indecisive fighting during the first year of its existence, the army seized the Spanish port of San Sebastián in August 1794. By the time the Peace of Basel was signed on 22 July 1795, the Army of the Western Pyrenees held a significant portion of northeastern Spain.

Contents

Biography

Servan was born in the village of Romans in south-eastern France. His older brother was the lawyer and publicist Joseph Michel Antoine Servan.

Romans, Ain Commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Romans is a commune in the Ain department in eastern France.

Joseph Michel Antoine Servan was a French publicist and lawyer.

He volunteered for the regiment of Guyenne on 20 December 1760. He rose to Engineering Officer, then Deputy Governor of the pages of King Louis XVI, then colonel, then brigadier general on 8 May 1792.

Guyenne medieval Duchy in Kingdom of France

Guyenne or Guienne was an old French province which corresponded roughly to the Roman province of Aquitania Secunda and the archdiocese of Bordeaux.

He was recommended as Minister of War by the Girondin leadership, and served a brief term from 9 May to 12 June 1792. [1] Servan assumed the office in a time of war, the first year of the War of the First Coalition. Within days of his appointment he oversaw the dismissal of the royal Garde du Corps and the Swiss Guards; he also abolished corporal punishment in the army.

War of the First Coalition 1790s war to contain Revolutionary France

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Garde du Corps (France)

The Gardes-du-Corps was the senior formation of the King of France's Household Cavalry within the Maison militaire du roi de France.

His most momentous action as minister, however, was his proposal to bring armed volunteers from the provinces to Paris. These citizen-soldiers, called fédérés , were intended to complement the grand festivities set for the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille. Servan also planned to give them military training before using them to supplement the army at the front. The scope and length of their stay in the capital was undefined, and the proposal was highly contentious: some, like the king, saw it as a plot to stack Paris full with anti-monarchists, while others, like Maximilien Robespierre, feared the outsiders might be used as a provincial counterweight to the radical Parisian sans-culottes. [2]

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zürich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018.

Storming of the Bastille Major event of the French Revolution

The Storming of the Bastille occurred in Paris, France, on the afternoon of 14 July 1789.

Maximilien Robespierre French revolutionary lawyer and politician

Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre was a French lawyer and politician, as well as one of the best known and most influential figures associated with the French Revolution. As a member of the Constituent Assembly and the Jacobin Club, he campaigned for universal manhood suffrage, and the abolition of both celibacy for the clergy and of slavery. Robespierre was an outspoken advocate for the citizens without a voice, for their unrestricted admission to the National Guard, to public offices, and for the right to carry arms in self-defence. Robespierre played an important part in the agitation which brought about the fall of the French monarchy in August 1792 and the summoning of a National Convention.

King Louis used his constitutional prerogative to veto Servan's proposal. Amid much criticism for his use of the unpopular veto power, the king fought back and dismissed the entire Girondin ministry, including Servan. [3] Radical agitators seized the issue, and the invitation to the fédérés ignited a storm of citywide unrest. [2] Eventually thousands of the provincial volunteers arrived regardless of the king's disapproval, and they were given a warm welcome by members of the Assembly, including Robespierre himself. The fédérés issue helped lead to the insurrection of 10 August after which Servan was reappointed as Minister of War. [4]

Another of Servan's ministerial initiatives was the deletion of the eighth verse of the anthem La Marseillaise in 1792. Servan claimed its references to God undermined the Republic.

Arrested during the Terror, he was released on 3 February 1795 and reinstated in the army. Under the Consulate, he was Chairman of Records as well as Commander of the Legion of Honor.

Servan retired on 3 May 1807, and died the following year in Paris at the age of 67. His name in inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe, on the west side.

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References

  1. Soboul, p. 240.
  2. 1 2 Schama, pp.604–605.
  3. Soboul, p. 245.
  4. Soboul, p. 259.

Sources

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Pierre Marie de Grave
Minister of War
9 May 1792 – 13 June 1792
Succeeded by
Charles Dumouriez
Preceded by
Charles Franqueville d'Abancourt
Minister of War
10 August 1792 – 3 October 1792
Succeeded by
Pierre Henri Hélène Marie Lebrun-Tondu