September 14, 2021

#08-135: The Three Musketeers

in a black-and-white pen-and-ink drawing, four long-haired men in capes and frilly clothes look off camera
D'Artagnan and the three Musketeers

Note: Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and their protégé d'Artagnan--the Three (plus one) Musketeers! Read about their swashbuckling adventures and political intrigues.

Get Ready: How do you think the use of guns and gunpowder disrupted the "art of war"? Prior to their introduction, fighting was limited to handheld weapons (like knives, swords, clubs, etc.); bows-and-arrows; and spears. How would fighting change when "musketeers" came on the scene?

Let's look at Alexandre Dumas's swashbuckling novel, The Three Musketeers.

It's 1625. A French country bumpkin named d'Artagnan is on his way to Paris with a letter of recommendation to join the famed Musketeers regiment. On the way, an older man insults his horse. D'Artagnan wishes to duel, but instead is beaten by the older man's companions, who also break his sword and take his letter.

He meets with the commander of the musketeers, but without the letter, Monsieur de Tréville cannot accept him. Instead, he recommends a training opportunity. While they talk, d'Artagnan sees out the commander's window the older man from before, who is in fact the Comte de Rochefort, agent of a political operative named Cardinal Richelieu.

In rushing to confront Rochefort, d'Artagnan offends three musketeers, each of whom challenges him to a duel that very afternoon. They meet, and as he is about to fight the first one, the cardinal's men attempt to arrest them (dueling was illegal) and the four fight off the five officers. Thus d'Artagnan becomes friends with Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, THE three musketeers.

Many adventures and intrigues follow, all tied in with political rather than military attempts on the kingdom of France. In attempting to rescue the kidnapped wife of his landlord, d'Artagnan falls in love with the wife, Constance, who works for Anne, the French queen.

King Louis XIII has given his wife Anne some diamond studs; she in turn gave them to her lover, the English Duke of Buckingham. Attempting to start a war between England and France, Richelieu insists to the king that Anne wear the now-absent jewels to a fancy party. Constance informs d'Artagnan of the problem, and with his friends he journeys to England, attacked by Richelieu's henchmen repeatedly along the way.

Another of Richelieu's operatives, Milady de Winter (former wife of Athos), has stolen two of the studs, but Buckingham has them duplicated. Anne wears them to the ball.

Constance is again kidnapped, but the queen rescues her from prison. However, she ends up living in a convent with Milady de Winter, who fatally poisons her.

D'Artagnan (who after more adventures has become a musketeer) and the three others arrest Milady, put her on trial, and have her officially executed. Secretly pleased to be rid of her, Richelieu gives d'Artagnan a commission as lieutenant of the musketeers. Not wanting to be superior to his friends, he in turn offers it to each of them, but each refuses it: Athos thinks he's too good for it, Porthos is retiring to get married, and Aramis is becoming a priest. D'Artagnan takes the promotion, but with a heavy heart.


Read more:

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. agent
  2. bumpkin
  3. duel
  4. duplicated
  5. fatally
  6. insults
  7. intrigues
  8. musketeers
  9. swashbuckling
  10. with a heavy heart

  1. an unsophisticated person
  2. secret plots and plans
  3. copied
  4. a fight (usually to the death, with swords or guns) between two people
  5. a representative
  6. causing death
  7. sadly
  8. involving swordfights and such
  9. speaks rudely about
  10. formerly, soldiers who fought with guns

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for September 14, 2021

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. e; 2. a; 3. d; 4. c; 5. f; 6. i; 7. b; 8. j; 9. h; 10. g