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The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers & Alexandre Dumas Alexandre Dumas’s novels and in particular The Three Musketeers are so great for his ability to mix fact with fiction. As a historical novel, The Three Musketeers bases its story around some major characters and events of 17th century, French history. Cardinal Richelieu, Anne of Austria, and other important characters really lived and acted the way they do in the novel. In fact, the historical basis of Dumas's story extends all the way to his initial idea for the novel, even to the Musketeers and d’Artagnan themselves.(history 1)
The Three Musketeers is inspired by a 17th century work entitled Memoires de d'Artagnan by Gatien de Cortilz de Sandras, which Dumas stumbled across in his research. This work became an outline for part I of The Three Musketeers. At the time, Dumas did not believe that the Cortilz novel was historical, but thought he was simply plagiarizing and developing a previous writer's work. But Dumas claimed in his original introduction to The Three Musketeers that he thought the work was historical.(history 2)
D’Artagnan the hero of The Three Musketeers, was really Charles de Batz-Castelmore, and hailed from Gascony, just as Dumas writes. He left Gascony not in 1625, as in the novel, but in 1640. He had a great career not under Louis XIII and Richelieu, but under their successors Mazarin and Louis XIV and he rose through the ranks to great distinction until he died in service in 1673 at the Siege of Maestricht. (novel)
Athos, Porthos, and Aramis are also based on real Musketeers. Porthos was Isaac de Portau, a member of the Captain des Essarts's company of the King's Guards until 1643, and then a Musketeer with d'Artagnan. Aramis was Henry d'Aramitz, related to Monsieur de Treville, he was a Musketeer from 1640 and on, we know little of him beyond that. Athos was Armand de Sillegue, also related to Treville. He was a King's Musketeer who died in Paris in 1643, but little is known beyond that, there is some proof on his death certificate that he died as a result of a duel.(history pg. 3)
The major historical figures in the novel are all more or less accurate, in terms of the basic facts presented. Louis XIII, Anne of Austria, Cardinal Richelieu, and Monsieur de Treville are all presented without any historical inaccuracies. And there were indeed, King's Musketeers under Louis XIII, they existed as a sort of training ground for the elite of the French army, and served as the King's personal escort in peacetime. Treville and the Cardinal were great enemies, as Dumas portrays them, in fact, Treville was involved in a 1642 plot to assassinate the Cardinal, and Louis XIII was forced to banish his friend. Richelieu did have his own, similarly elite, company of Guards, which did have a great rivalry with the Musketeers, as Dumas describes.(history pg. 4)
In general, we see that Dumas's novel is at least based in history, although he takes great departures. The one great exception to this is Lady de Winter. Courtilz's "Milady" is an entirely private individual, one of the Queen's exiled ladies-in-waiting, with whom his d'Artagnan does indeed have an affair with. But she has nothing to do with the Cardinal; certain faux-memoirs that Dumas used provided the detail of a lady "Clarick" who is associated with the theft of the diamond brooch from Buckingham that Dumas relates. Dumas mix these elements, and create an entirely fake character with his Milady. It is interesting that this fake character is allowed to dominate part II of the novel, and this says something about Dumas's loyalty to history. Milady became a fascinating character, and Dumas was far more concerned with creating interesting fiction, and tying that into history, than in remaining completely loyal to history. (Cooper, pg. 14)

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