Transcript for Episode 463: D'Artagnan: the Man and the Legend

Categories: French Culture, French History

[00:00:00] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France, episode 463, quatre cent soixante trois.

[00:00:23] Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent and Join Us in France is the podcast where we talk about France. Everyday life in France, great places to visit in France, French culture, history, gastronomy, and news related to travel to France.

Today on the podcast

[00:00:38] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a conversation with Elyse Rivin of Toulouse Guided Walks about D’Artagnan and Alexandre Dumas. The wonderful book and incredible author, who was both prolific and extremely talented, and made a huge impact on French literature and culture.

Podcast supporters

[00:00:57] Annie Sargent: This podcast is supported by donors and listeners who buy my tours and services, including my Itinerary Consult Service, my GPS self guided tours of Paris on the VoiceMap app, or take a day trip with me around the southwest of France, of course, in my electric car. You can browse all of that at my boutique

No Magazine Part of of the Podcast Today

[00:01:21] Annie Sargent: There will not be a magazine part of the podcast today because this recording ran long, and because I was away all week visiting Bordeaux, Arcachon, Rochefort, Cognac and Sainte.

[00:01:34] I’ll tell you more about this visit very soon. I also visited the beautiful town of Corde and several wineries around there uh, to uh, prepare for a day trip uh, from Toulouse.

[00:01:48] But I do want to say, But I do want to thank, But I do want to send my thanks and a shout out to one new patron, Teresa.

[00:01:55] To join the community of Francophiles and podcast supporters, go to, and to support Elyse go to

[00:02:16] My thanks to podcast editors Anne and Cristian Cotovan, who produced the transcripts for this podcast.

Next week on the podcast

[00:02:23] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast, an episode about. Next week on the podcast, an episode about Robin and Next week on the podcast, an episode with Robin and Raymond, the couple who is in love with the French Alps and great active adventures.

Annie and Elyse about The Real D’Artagnan

[00:02:43] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Elyse.

[00:02:44] Elyse Rivin: Bonjour Annie.

[00:02:45] Annie Sargent: We have a really fun topic today. We are not wearing capes. We should be. Huh?

[00:02:51] Elyse Rivin: wearing capes. We should be. We

[00:02:51] should We. And we should have swords with us.

[00:02:54] Annie Sargent: Yes. So we’re talking about, D’Artagnan

[00:02:59] So, we’re talking, first we’re going to start with the man.

[00:03:03] The real man. The actual man in flesh and blood.

[00:03:06] Elyse Rivin: In flesh and blood, now a long time ago, flesh and blood, yes.

[00:03:10] Annie Sargent: And then we’re going to uh, talk about, a little bit about the novel. And I’m not sure how much we’ll, how much time we’ll have for the novel. I also did a bunch of research about into the life of um, Alexandre Dumas, the author. Um, And, you know, I can get geeky about novels, so perhaps I’ll, whatever doesn’t fit into this episode, I’ll just do with my patrons uh, at a later date.

[00:03:31] But fascinating, fascinating guy this D’Artagnan.

[00:03:34] Elyse Rivin: Absolutely. And of course this is because you love the Three Musketeers, and because you really, really, really love D’Artagnan. And I uh, did not even realize until we began doing this that he was a real person and that in fact uh, a good part of what the Duma.

[00:03:51] Duma Dumas um, put into his books is kind of based on what are actually fake memoirs that were written a little bit after his death. But this guy really existed and in, in real life, his exploits were almost as amazing as what you have in the book.

[00:04:07] Annie Sargent: Right, so he he, took a real person and made him even more incredible and surrounded him by equally incredible people.

[00:04:17] Elyse Rivin: And lots of bad people.

[00:04:19] Annie Sargent: Yes. It’s an excellent novel.

Movies about D’Artagnan and the Musketeers

[00:04:24] Elyse Rivin: And a lot of fun. And, And just to add, before we even begin talking about the real guy, the story of his life, it is a fact, I went online and I actually counted them and made notes about them, since the year 1912, there have been 32 different films made about D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers.

[00:04:46] Annie Sargent: That is crazy.

[00:04:47] Elyse Rivin: Isn’t that amazing? 32. The first one was in 1912, and it was of course a silent movie, and it was, it is considered to be the very first swashbuckler movie ever made. And it was made by someone who actually worked with Méliès. We’ve done a, We did our podcast about the history of cinema. So it’s really as primitive as, as the old, very beginning of cinema was.

[00:05:10] But it’s actually fascinating and I, I just, it’s weird because half of them are American or English versions. The Americans really love the Three Musketeers and D’Artagnan. And this And several of them are, are Italian as well. Yeah. And I think that, I have never seen any of them, but I would guess they are as kitsch as you could possibly get.

[00:05:30] Annie Sargent: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Easy to go kitsch for that one.

[00:05:32] Elyse Rivin: yeah yeah yeah. Easy

[00:05:32] Easy to go kitsch and the Italians are really good at kitsch anyway. So, And the most, So the first one was 1912, and the most recent one is this past year, in 2023. And it was a huge success here in France.

[00:05:46] Annie Sargent: Right, and I haven’t seen it.

[00:05:47] Elyse Rivin: I haven’t seen it, but my husband saw it. Uh, Took uh our 12 year old grandson who loved it because it was filled with all these young actors. And, And Pierre was like, eh, but of course he’s used to the older versions and, you know, what are you going to do with an old fuddy daddy who’s used to the other versions?

[00:06:02] You know?

[00:06:03] Annie Sargent: I would love to see it, honestly. I, I I don’t go to the movies very much, but that is one I would like to see. Yes.

[00:06:08] Elyse Rivin: And, And there are, that’s not counting even the TV series and the TV films, I mean, this is just cinema films. This is, This is fodder for the cinema.

[00:06:18] Annie Sargent: Oh, definitely. The and, And the novel reads like a movie.

[00:06:23] It’s just crazy, like it’s constant action. It’s, uh,

[00:06:26] I’m, I’m convinced that the reason why there are so many movie adaptations of it is that you can pretty much take the book and turn it into a movie. Like it, there’s not that much work do to do to it. Well,

[00:06:36] I, mean, I don’t know anything about screenplays, but to me it reads like at least a theater, like a play, like it, it, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s alive.

[00:06:44] Elyse Rivin: And there’s always action.

[00:06:45] Annie Sargent: Constantly, it’s always moving forward. Always, Always, always moving and the characters, and, and all the coincidences between what happens, I mean, come on, what are the chances?

[00:06:57] But it doesn’t matter. Coincidences happen all the time and, and you believe them. Because you just want the, you want to see these people and what they’re going to do.

[00:07:06] Elyse Rivin: It’s wonderful. It’s wonderful. And it’s fun in a sense, you know. I Even though it’s really based on real history and real people. You know.

[00:07:13] Annie Sargent: So today we’re going to bring you back down to Earth and you about the real guy. But he wasn’t bad either.

The Real D’Artagnan Charles de Batz de Castelmore

[00:07:17] Elyse Rivin: He wasn’t bad either. OK. Ok Ok So our So our Mr. Charles de Batz and apparently there’s an argument about whether it’s Batte or Batz, B A T Z, his real name, well, uh, und he said, he says it’s not Z, you don’t pronounce the Z, so I’m not going to worry about it. I’m just,

[00:07:32] Annie Sargent: Well as you know, he’s from Paris. And this, This guy’s from the Southwest, come on.

[00:07:35] Elyse Rivin: Southwest. He’s, He’s a gas Charles de Batz de Castelmore, it’s his real name. And he was born somewhere, interestingly, there’s no exact proof of the year of his birth, which is strange because uh, at that time certainly there were lots of records in, in the churches, certainly for baptism. He was born somewhere between 1611 and 1615, in the tiny village of Lupiac which is in what is now the Department of the Gers which is uh, Gascony, uh, to the west of Toulouse. Uh, The region, of course, at the time, this is way before the French Revolution. This is the region of Gascony, and his family was what could be considered to be minor nobility.

[00:08:17] His father came from a family that had made a fair amount of money, mostly in commerce, but his mother was from a distinguished family, a family called the Montesquiou family, and she had a lot of royal connections, mostly distant cousins, but there was enough of kind of a connection between her family and these other people that when Charles decided to do something with his life, and that in fact was to go up to Paris to be a soldier, she had lots of letters of introduction that were very, very useful to him.

[00:08:51] Annie Sargent: Same in the book.

[00:08:52] Elyse Rivin: Same in the book, right? He was actually the fourth son uh in the family, uh a family with seven children who all survived, which is astounding for the time that, that they were uh living in.

[00:09:02] And good genes.

[00:09:04] Very good genes.

[00:09:05] Annie Sargent: And good mom who knew how to take care of babies.

[00:09:08] Elyse Rivin: Obviously, and, and and lots of luck. I think also at the same time.

[00:09:10] Annie Sargent: Also luck and also means and all of that.

[00:09:13] Elyse Rivin: Whatever. And, uh, But of course we know that uh, once you’re not the first born son, there’s no way you’re going to inherit anything.

[00:09:21] You don’t get the property. You know, primogenitor was really the, the rule even in France at the time. So, um, we know almost nothing about his early childhood. Obviously, they probably had a private tutor. They were wealthy enough. They had their old, their small little you know, Chateau in the Gers.

[00:09:38] Annie Sargent: Yeah. And we just looked at a photo of it. Uh,

[00:09:40] Elyse Rivin: it’s,

[00:09:40] Annie Sargent: It’s a nice big house.

[00:09:41] Elyse Rivin: It’s a very big house.

[00:09:42] Annie Sargent: It’s not showy house. mean, it’s, a It’s a chateau, but it’s a plain chateau.

[00:09:47] It’s a plain chateau.

[00:09:48] It’s the, it’s not, we’re talking in the, We’re in the 17th century. This is obviously chateau. This is not fortified anything. Uh, And it is a chateau of a minor nobility, uh, which means they have a nice big chunk of land, 150 hectares, over 300 acres. So it’s a nice big forest. But it was what would be considered for the time um, a modest mansion or a teeny chateau.

[00:10:11] Yes, and apparently it’s for sale.

[00:10:13] Elyse Rivin: And it’s for sale. If anybody wants to spend 2.2 million Euros and work on fixing it up and making it into a museum, I will go to visit the museum, once you fix it up.

[00:10:22] Annie Sargent: Well, we’re going to go see it.

[00:10:23] I mean, it’s driving distance from Toulouse.

[00:10:26] Elyse Rivin: And I’m dying to see this building and I would put my bid in, but it would only be for 20 Euros. So I don’t think that would work. Have to multiply that by lots of zeros get this going of ground. So, uh, Charles uh, Charles basically I’m sure with, like his brothers and his sisters, uh, had a private tutor.

[00:10:44] And then uh, somewhere around the year 1630, it’s interesting that the beginning of his life, the dates are a little bit vague, uh, strangely enough because later on the dates are very, very clear and very, very definitive.

[00:10:56] But uh, at some point around the age of 15 or 16, he and two of his brothers, uh, the two who were not going to inherit as, as well as he, uh, they all left the, the Gascony area and they went to Paris. Uh,

[00:11:11] Annie Sargent: To seek their fortune.

[00:11:13] Elyse Rivin: To seek their fortune. And to seek their fortune in a very specific way, because this is an interesting story.

[00:11:19] Uh,

Corps d’armée of the King

[00:11:19] Elyse Rivin: Some of you might remember that there was one good king in France named Henry IV, who was indeed from Gascony from the region in the Pyrenees, in the southwest of France. And under his realm, he created a company of soldiers that would be known the private soldiers of the king, and they were uh, the specific soldiers that would defend the king and escort the king outside of the palace, not inside the palace.

[00:11:46] They were, those were guards basically, but they were known as the Corps d’armée, the body of the company of the king. And uh, from Henry IV on, it became the tradition that these soldiers would be from Gascony.

[00:12:02] Annie Sargent: Mm hmm. Yeah.

[00:12:04] Elyse Rivin: He went up to Paris with his brothers with some letters of introduction. A couple of them were relatively important people with the intention of enrolling in the King’s Army, basically, uh, the King’s private company.

[00:12:19] Annie Sargent: Right, and in real life, I suppose, that the letters were not stolen.

[00:12:25] Elyse Rivin: The letters were not stolen.

[00:12:27] Annie Sargent: Well, in the book they are.

[00:12:29] Ah. OK.

[00:12:30] Yes.

[00:12:31] Elyse Rivin: In real life, the letters indeed are not stolen. And not only that, but the rule was that in order to be a member of the king’s company, you had to be what was called a gentilhommes. Which of course has come down in English to be the word gentleman, but in fact had a very specific meaning in French at the time.

[00:12:51] It meant that you were born into a noble family.

[00:12:54] Annie Sargent: Right, and that you had some means.

[00:12:56] Elyse Rivin: And that you had some means.

[00:12:57] Annie Sargent: And you could carry the sword, because not everybody was allowed to carry the sword.

[00:13:02] Elyse Rivin: And not only that, but even if you were admitted into the king’s company and then company in the sense of military uh, company, you had to pay for everything yourself at first, because the only thing they gave you, the only thing they gave you was the sword.

[00:13:18] Annie Sargent: Yeah, so these were, it was kind of mercenaries type of … of today we’d call them that.

[00:13:23] Elyse Rivin: They were mercenaries. But the fact is that uh, armies, until they had huge battles where they really basically enrolled by force lots and lots of people, this is what it was. I mean, these were people that were chosen that relatively handpicked so that they could try, at least, to guarantee their loyalty to the king. And of course, one of the things they paid them with was the booty. We have to admit that this is part of what happened when you were a part of these, these armies. I mean, you weren’t always such a nice person.

[00:13:53] But in the case of Charles de Batz de Castelmore, he apparently was somebody from his childhood who had been raised with the idea that the most noble thing that he could do would be to be in the service of the king.

[00:14:10] And so in 1630 when he went up to Paris, the king was Louis XIII, the son of Henry IV, and uh, the Prime Minister who was the man who held basically much of the power was a very important man named Richelieu. And I know that they’re both very, very important, especially Richelieu in, in the book, although you have, I think Mazarin uh, afterwards. But…

[00:14:34] And So Charles is uh, accepted into the army, uh, that is Louis XIII’s army, but basically he’s taken under the wing of Richelieu. Uh, um I don’t know, we’ve never done podcasts about either Richelieu or Mazarin. These are very complicated people. Huh These were people who were uh, very, very powerful. Uh,

[00:14:52] Both of whom uh, were, basically the power behind the throne when, uh, there were two women who were what we call regent, which meant that they were the mothers of the Kings, but the Kings were still babies or children. And so there was a lot of power play. And of course, this is a lot of what goes on in the Three Musketeers, and, and the story of the Three Musketeers.

[00:15:10] And so for the first few years, there isn’t really much detail about what happened except that he was enrolled in this army, and probably because he must’ve been fairly well educated, but also apparently very astute at I’m Uh not making enemies of people at the court. Uh, this is, This is a talent, because not all of the soldiers were this diplomatic or maybe not as suave.

D’Artagnan and Secret Missions

[00:15:36] Elyse Rivin: I have no idea. It would have been interesting to actually meet this man, in real life. Richelieu picked him out, noticed him, and started to ask him to do what basically became secret missions. So this is where it does join up to what goes on in the Three Musketeers.

[00:15:55] Annie Sargent: Yes, yes. yes, definitely. He, they go on secret missions.

[00:15:59] Elyse Rivin: Go on secret missions, right?

[00:16:01] Annie Sargent: But in the book he’s not admitted as a musketeer right away.

[00:16:05] Elyse Rivin: Right? No, he’s not. It’s not the Musketeers. This is a separate core. This is a separate uh, company of soldiers. He is not, in fact, made a Musketeer until 1644. And 1644 is the year after the death of Louis XIII, and that is when you have Louis IVX who is only eight years old, and so he is now too young to be officially made king. And so it is the regence of his mom. And his mom is Anne of Austria.

[00:16:41] Annie Sargent: Yes.

[00:16:42] Elyse Rivin: And Richelieu is replaced by a man named Mazarin.

[00:16:48] Annie Sargent: Right.

[00:16:48] Elyse Rivin: Who is also someone who likes to plot things and have spies, and it is he who creates the Mousquetaire and the company of Mousquetaire based on this new rifle that had just been developed called the Mousquet which apparently is lighter and more efficient and more accurate than the old rifle. Uh, This is the reason why the group of uh, this company of soldiers is called the Mousquetaire because they are the only ones allowed to use these new rifles. Um, The old one apparently was so heavy that it was barely liftable. I mean, I don’t know how they actually point it at somebody.

[00:17:24] Annie Sargent: If you go to the Musée de l’Armée you can see some of these old muskets and the long ones, the short ones, the medium ones, yeah.

[00:17:32] Elyse Rivin: I mean, you had to have a lot of muscle just to be able to take the gunpowder and shove it back into the front of the, the rifle. And

[00:17:38] Annie Sargent: So this is an interesting difference between reality and the book because in the book, everything takes place under Louis XIII and Richelieu.

[00:17:48] Everything, the whole story.

[00:17:50] Yes, the whole story. And so um, Louis XIV never appears in, in the book.

[00:17:56] Um, And uh Mazarin does not either. Uh, So he, He kind of set it further back, perhaps 50 years or something, just so that he, I mean, he essentially told the story of what was happening today, but under the guise of 50 years ago. You know?

[00:18:12] Which is clever, very clever.

[00:18:14] Elyse Rivin: That’s very interesting because in fact, the glorious period of time of the life of Charles de Batz de Castelmore is indeed under Louis XIV, not under Louis XIII.

[00:18:27] Annie Sargent: Right, and in the book it’s Louis XIII.

[00:18:29] Elyse Rivin: It’s the Louis XIII.

The name D’Artagnan added to Charles Batz de Castelmore

[00:18:30] Elyse Rivin: So, uh, in fact, what happens is, uh when he goes up to Paris and uh, they ask him, I don’t know if it was the custom or it was just that he made the decision himself, but he added the name D’Artagnan to his official name.

[00:18:45] His baptism name was Charles Batz de Castelmore. And he added the name of the family of his mom, his, the maiden name of the family that belonged to his mother. And that was because they had land and that land was the land of D’Artagnan.

[00:19:01] Annie Sargent: Right, so he is de Artagnan. So D’Artagnan.

[00:19:08] Elyse Rivin: And then from there, from that point on for the rest of his career, I guess the rest of his life I could say, he became known simply as D’Artagnan. From

[00:19:17] Annie Sargent: So this was a good way to you know, uh, stand out from his brothers and, you know, just have a, and it’s a very good name.

[00:19:24] Elyse Rivin: A very good name. Yes, it is a very good name.

[00:19:28] It’s a very excellent name, exactly. And so this is what’s so fascinating about him without knowing that much about his personal life at this point, he is not only an excellent soldier who develops an extremely important reputation as being brave and also being very loyal to the throne, because he changes kings basically from Louis XIII to Louis XIV. But he’s also suave, and so he makes lots of friends. He doesn’t seem to have rubbed anybody the wrong way until almost the very end of his life.

[00:20:01] And so he rises in the ranks of the people who are in the court, basically.

[00:20:06] Annie Sargent: This is funny because in the book, he actually rubs a lot of people the wrong way. He actually goes looking for fights. Because that’s how he proves his valor. Apparently in real life he didn’t do this.

[00:20:18] Elyse Rivin: No, in fact, in real life, he proves his valor by doing all these secret missions.

[00:20:24] and, And so, what happens is that, but Mazarin who is the one who creates the Mousquetaire, he’s also the one several years later for other reasons, I’m not sure exactly why. I really could not find exactly why, I’m sure if I delved further into his life, he decided to uh, disband the Mousquetaire. And at this point, D’Artagnan is taken on by the court as part of the private company that accompanies the king in all of his, uh, his, his um, all of his movements outside of the, outside of the Chateau.

[00:20:56] Uh, Uh, Once He’s not part of the inside uh, Garde de Corps. He’s part of the group that accompanies the king everywhere. And, And so, if you can imagine in uh, 1650, the king is uh, just about what, 13, 14 years old and D’Artagnan is about 20 years older.

[00:21:15] And he develops a friendship with the king. He becomes his loyal soldier and basically, in the good sense, the loyal servant. And stays loyal to Louis XIV, and stays alongside him in almost every single battle that Louis XIV participates in and basically is his loyal friend until the end of his life.

[00:21:43] Annie Sargent: That’s very interesting. So in the book there is, there are two companies. There’s the Musketeers of the King, and there are the, the people who serve um, Richelieu. He has his own company and there is rivalry between the two companies and they always get into fights. Yes. So, But this is not what happened in reality.

[00:22:03] Elyse Rivin: Apparently not. I mean, of course, who knows, maybe there are, there are, I’m sure that there must be diaries, journals and texts somewhere that indicate exactly all these little intrigues that went on in the court. Because of course, one of the problems with both Richelieu and afterwards with Mazarin is that these were men who had enormous political ambition and so they weren’t always uh the most helpful to the king, and I’m not sure what else, what other word to use.

[00:22:29] In other words, they, they weren’t traitors to the king, but they were looking out for themselves very often.

[00:22:34] Annie Sargent: Yes, yes. There was a, There was a lot of um, lining one’s pockets.

[00:22:38] Elyse Rivin: Yes. Lining one’s pockets is basically a lot of what did happen, indeed.

D’Artagnan, Captain of the Guards

[00:22:42] Elyse Rivin: And so, uh, what happened was that uh, D’Artagnan in 1654 was actually wounded in a battle.

[00:22:48] Uh, But for his valor, he was promoted by the king to be captain of the guards, which is apparently extremely prestigious. The, the, the, The military ranks were very different at the time because lieutenant, which is of now, if you think about the ranks in the army it’s not really, it’s a lower officer.

[00:23:05] Um, At that time it was considered to be very important to be a lieutenant, a lieutenant, and a captain was very, very high up. And in fact, after that, the only grade you get is King. The King is the, is the head of the company, and then you have Captain, and then you have Lieutenant and then you have Sous Lieutenant Uh, so, so we were, you know, he’s fairly high up.

[00:23:26] Annie Sargent: So a little point of French pronunciation here, it’s lieutenant.

[00:23:31] In French it’s lieutenant, sous lieutenant.

[00:23:35] But in English, you spell it the same, but you say it wrong.

[00:23:38] Elyse Rivin:Yes, We we say wrong. It’s, we say it wrong for French, we say it right for English. That’s the biggest problem.

[00:23:41] Say it wrong for both. I mean, you say it wrong, because it’s written.

[00:23:41] lieutenant

[00:23:41] And then in 1657 Louis XIV, perhaps, perhaps with the encouragement of D’Artagnan, we really don’t know, he recreates the company of the Musketeers, and he made D’Artagnan the captain of the Company of the Musketeers, and he had under him 150 men.

[00:24:05] Annie Sargent: Okay, so this is interesting because this happens in the book, but it’s, it’s at the conclusion of the book.

[00:24:12] Elyse Rivin: This is

[00:24:12] Annie Sargent: That’s his reward for having gone through all these epic difficulties. He is then rewarded with becoming the Captain. And because I’m six minutes away from the end of the audio book and I don’t remember if he accepts it or not, I think he turns it down.

[00:24:35] Yes. I think he gives it to a better man than himself.

[00:24:38] Elyse Rivin: Oh my goodness, why would he do that?

[00:24:40] Annie Sargent: Because he’s a man of honor. But in real life he actually was a man of honor.

[00:24:45] Yes. But in the book, I, but I don’t know, I have to finish it.

[00:24:48] Yes. I don’t remember. So I have read this book several times, but I always forget the details of the plot because it’s, I mean it’s… it’s keeps moving that plot moves. it’s complicated.

D’Artagnan at the Court

[00:24:56] Elyse Rivin: All right. So here we have D’Artagnan who in fact has become actually a very close friend of the kings. I mean, beyond just being a loyal to the king and being one of his most important soldiers, he really is his friend. Uh, And Louis XIV actually confides in him and actually asks him for advice about military things. I mean, I’m not sure if he asked him for advice about anything else, we don’t know really very much about that other part of their lives or specifically about D’Artagnan’s life. But um when he wasn’t in battle, he was at the court.

[00:25:30] He was by the side of Louis XIV, and he’s always there whenever Louis XIV needs some advice about something that relates to the enemy, something that relates to military things.

[00:25:44] Annie Sargent: And so this is another big difference with the book. In the book he is not a confident of the, of the king. He is an admirer, and a servant, but they never, I mean, No, they, the king sends him letters, asks him to commissions him to do things, but there is no personal relationship between the two.

[00:26:03] He’s just in the service of and, and just like utterly dedicated to the service of the king and of the country.

[00:26:12] Elyse Rivin: Which is true.

[00:26:13] Annie Sargent: Yes, this is true.

[00:26:15] Is

[00:26:15] But he, in, in the book, he’s constantly moving and serving and doing missions. He’s never at the court sitting around and talking to the king.

D’Artagnan’s Domestic Life

[00:26:23] Elyse Rivin: Well, it turns out that actually he was at the court. Whenever he wasn’t in battle, he was indeed at the court. And this is interesting because in 1659 at probably around the age of 40, because again, nobody knows exactly exactly when he was born. He decides to get married. He, He has been, you know, he’s a soldier, I’m sure he had nice ladies along the way, you know, whatever.

[00:26:47] Uh And especially at the court, apparently he had a great success at the court. Uh, But he decides to get married. And he marries a, a, a young widow. Uh, She’s not that young. She’s not a 15, 16 year old. She’s actually in her early 30s. Has not had any children. She’s rich. Uh, They meet at the court. They’re introduced by mutual acquaintances or friends at the court. And they decide to get married and they draw up a marriage contract, because she has a huge amount of money and lots of land. And uh, obviously, since she’s a widow, she has decided maybe she doesn’t trust men very much. But in any event, uh, she uh, makes it clear that if they’re going to get married, she wants marriage contract, which apparently was really done certainly among the aristocrats, uh, not necessarily among poor people.

[00:27:33] Annie Sargent: Right, because back then, once a woman was a widow, she actually owned her stuff.

[00:27:39] Until she was a widow, she did not. It was very different. Uh, The mentality was, like as as a the daughter of someone you own nothing, as the wife of someone you own nothing. You couldn’t make your own decisions. But as a widow, all of a sudden, it’s your money and you can do whatever you want with it.

[00:27:55] You can start a business. You can do whatever you want with it. So that’s why she protected that.

[00:27:59] Elyse Rivin: And she did indeed. And so they get married in 1659.

[00:28:03] In 1660, and in 1661, she gave birth to sons. One and then another, one, two, three, like that.

[00:28:12] And in 1662 they separated.

[00:28:17] And she was the one who asked for the separation.

[00:28:20] Annie Sargent: Well, you know.

[00:28:21] Elyse Rivin: She said that she was tired of him, number one, not being around because he was either fighting off somewhere, or he was hanging out at the court.

[00:28:31] Annie Sargent: And probably having affairs.

[00:28:33] Elyse Rivin: And number two, he was a lady’s man. So she, they apparently made an agreement to legally separate and she simply packed up her bags, because she had moved in with him. He had a beautiful private mansion on the Rue du Bac in Paris, and she went back to her lands in Burgundy. And took the children with her.

[00:28:52] But because of his affiliation and The, um, the, the, the real friendship that the king had, Louis XIV became godfather of one of his two sons, and he made his sister godmother of the other son.

[00:29:10] Annie Sargent: That’s impressive.

[00:29:11] Elyse Rivin: So they had court protection for their entire lives.

[00:29:14] Annie Sargent: Wow, that’s, that’s impressive. Again, in the book it’s very different. In the book he does not marry. Because, I mean, he’s the hero. Everybody’s in love with him. If the hero’s already married, what’s the point?

[00:29:25] Elyse Rivin: What’s the point? Really? You’re absolutely right, what’s the point? You know?

[00:29:29] Annie Sargent: Right? He has to be available. So he is not married, but he has a love interest, who is the young Constance, who is uh, married to a much older man, who is not very nice to her.

[00:29:43] Elyse Rivin: Who is typical of the aristocrats, basically.

[00:29:45] Annie Sargent: So he’s utterly in love with Constance, and uh, she is the uh, seamstress, she’s a seamstress for the queen. And so she has the ear of the queen. And she gets sent on. So the queen sends Constance on missions. And then, And then D’Artagnan will do these do the actual deeds, okay? Yes. Yes. So, But he is, he’s never married, and sadly he doesn’t get to marry Constance.

[00:30:10] Elyse Rivin: I’m so sorry to hear

[00:30:12] Annie Sargent: Because she’s killed by the evil one.

[00:30:14] Elyse Rivin: Oh my gosh. Okay.

[00:30:16] Well, in real life it really wasn’t that bad.

[00:30:19] Annie Sargent: Oh, good. Oh, I mean, if their real life was like the novel, I’m like, oh, geez.

[00:30:26] Elyse Rivin: He had his kids, he got his kids in there. He managed to get two legal, inheritance you know, two heirs to his fortune, which he was starting to accumulate. And he went on his apparently merry way, between the battles in the court, you know.

[00:30:39] Annie Sargent: Well, you know, she went to Burgundy. That’s not so bad.

[00:30:42] Elyse Rivin: Not so bad. Yeah.

[00:30:43] So, this is the major, there’s a major turning point at this point because 1661 is when his second son is born, and 1662 is when his wife basically leaves Paris, and I don’t know if he actually ever sees her again. I have no idea. But in 1661, Louis XIV discovered that his superintendent of finances, a man named Nicolas Fouquet…

[00:31:09] Annie Sargent: Oh, I’ve heard of him.

[00:31:10] Elyse Rivin: … who had just built an enormous magnificent château called Vaux de Vent which is on the outskirts of Paris. The King Louis XIV discovered in several different ways, partly by being invited to this man’s house, he was rather stupid Fouquet, because he needed to show off in front of the king.

[00:31:28] But what happened was the king discovered that this man who was indeed in charge of the finances was richer than he was, because he had spent years but years skimming off money.

[00:31:41] Annie Sargent: How dare he?

[00:31:42] Elyse Rivin: That was going to the king. And because he was doing this illegally and because the king could not have somebody else be richer than he was, and more powerful, because Fouquet along the way managed to have lots and lots of influence on lots of people.

[00:32:00] The king decided to arrest him, and bring him up on charges, basically of what we would consider to be, to be what? Um, Embezzling, basically. He was arrested for being an embezzler.

[00:32:11] And he asked d’Artagnan, who turns out to be the man he actually trusted more than anybody else at the court, he asked him to be the one to arrest him.

[00:32:23] Now, d’Artagnan knew Fouquet. They freaked they, they, They hung out together, if you want to call it that at the court. I don’t know how close they were as friends, but Louis XIV had such faith in the incorruptibility of D’Artagnan. Because Fouquet was able to basically buy almost anybody that he came into contact with, that the king asked him to be the one, not only to physically arrest him, but to escort him to prison. And he gave him the task, which D’Artagnan probably did not really appreciate, but did because he was so loyal to the king, of being his private prisoner guard.

[00:32:59] And he stayed guard of Fouquet, once he was in prison, he was transferred from one prison to another. The trial, he was put on trial, lasted for almost two years until he was finally sentenced and he was convicted. And when he was convicted, he was sentenced to banishment and he was sent actually to a fortified castle prison in the north of Italy.

[00:33:22] And so for a period of three years, D’Artagnan spent his entire time being the private prisoner guard of Fouquet.

[00:33:31] So

[00:33:31] Annie Sargent: Wow. So he was in Italy.

[00:33:33] Elyse Rivin: He was in Italy. He actually took him to Italy and left him there. And that was when his job as, as Fouquet’s um, jailer ended. But it’s also at that point that he asked Louis XIV to relieve him of this job because what he wanted to do clearly was get back to action.

[00:33:51] He wanted to go back to battle. He he, he. He knew that this was an honor that Louis XIV trusted him this much because he was so capable of corrupting everybody around him with his money uh, and his influence, and, and, he knew that that was an ultimate honor, that he was chosen, but he no longer wanted to do it.

[00:34:11] I mean, can you imagine, spending three years just being the jailer of somebody, even if it’s somebody that’s your levels in society and that you can talk. He talked to him. Apparently there were articles and things written about how there were people that were worried that they were developing too strong a friendship because he was around him basically all the time.

[00:34:30] But no, he treated him with respect. He talked to him. They had conversations about things, who knows about what, and then eventually the day that he was finally taken to Italy, he left him there and he went back. And at that point uh, uh, Louis XIV gave him great honors, added a great deal of money to his fortune.

[00:34:48] He rewarded him for the incredible honesty and loyalty that he had shown to the king.

[00:34:56] Annie Sargent: So it’s interesting, sorry to interrupt, but it’s interesting that the theme of the bunishment to some island in the Mediterranean, you know, Chateau d’If was one and apparently they did this in Italy as well.

[00:35:07] Elyse Rivin: They did this in Italy as well. It’s It’s interesting, you know, it was like above a certain point I think in society, they didn’t kill you, they just banished you.

[00:35:16] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:35:17] Elyse Rivin: They put you in prison. Uh, you know, and, and, And it wasn’t necessarily, you know, the dungeon with rats running around it either. You know, I mean uh, He lived there for, I don’t remember the year he died, but he was there for quite a few years, okay, before he actually died.

[00:35:28] Annie Sargent: Right, and then you have the, the, um the man with the iron mask nobody knew who he was.

[00:35:32] Elyse Rivin: Nobody knows. Nobody knows.

[00:35:35] Annie Sargent: There were a lot of intrigues like that, that are used in, in literature, but perhaps were based on some reality as well.

[00:35:42] Elyse Rivin: Probably. Probably.

[00:35:44] Annie Sargent: Yeah, somebody, somebody that got moved around with some sort of iron mask.

[00:35:47] Elyse Rivin: Exactly.

[00:35:48] Annie Sargent: But didn’t necessarily have to wear it all the time.

[00:35:51] Elyse Rivin: Who knows? Hopefully not.

[00:35:53] Annie Sargent: That would be dreadful.

[00:35:54] Elyse Rivin: So between 1665 and 1670, uh, D’Artagnan returned to battle. Uh, And Louis XIV was, was, was constantly, you know, making war in different parts of, of the world.

[00:36:06] And, you know, he was making, He was making war with his cousins in Spain. He was making war with the. the. with England, he was making war, uh, and, and eventually with uh the, um uh, the Pays-Bas with the, with Netherlands, you know, the Protestant countries to the north who were really, uh, really causing a great problem. Because they of course they were fighting over the northern territories of, of what is now Belgium and, and, and France.

[00:36:25] And this was one of the areas where Louis XIV apparently never wanted to give in and give up, you know, so they were constantly going back and fighting in this area of, what is now really around uh, the area around Lille. Um,

D’Artagnan becomes governor

[00:36:38] Elyse Rivin: And in 1670, now D’Artagnan by this time is, uh if you assume that even he was born in 1620, he’s already, so he’s 50. So this is starting to be old for a soldier, uh, you know, I mean, those back in those days. Uh, The King thinking that this is going to be the ultimate reward for him, makes him governor of the region around Lille.

[00:37:01] Annie Sargent: Oh, that’s unexpected!

[00:37:03] Elyse Rivin: It’s unexpected and it’s totally out of his world.

[00:37:06] Annie Sargent: That’s not in the book, at all.

[00:37:07] Elyse Rivin: Not only that, but it’s a political appointment basically. It’s not a, a military appointment. Um, uh, It’s because the border between the Netherlands and is just above Lille. Lille is very important. And it’s exactly at the same time that he has Vauban, who we have talked about, uh, obviously in podcasts, that he sends Vauban to Lille to fortify it.

[00:37:29] Annie Sargent: Ah!

[00:37:30] Elyse Rivin: So this is where we see the weakness of D’Artagnan. He does not know how to be a politician.

[00:37:38] He was good at the court. He was good on on, the battlefield. But it turns out that he had no finesse in terms of dealing with political issues. And he and Vauban were cat and dog. And Vauban who considered himself to have uh, more influence at this point with the King than D’Artagnan, went ahead with all kinds of uh, uh, uh, construction and destruction of the, in and around the city of Lille without asking for permission from D’Artagnan, who theoretically was the governor and therefore should have been the one to give permission for anything that was going to happen.

[00:38:17] And so, um for the, the, the period of a year and a half that he was governor of this area, uh, Vauban and D’Artagnan I spent all their time fighting with each other and getting on each other’s nerves, and creating problems that obviously interfered with whatever the work was that was supposed to be done, you know, at this time.

[00:38:35] Annie Sargent: So if, if this was in the novel, which it wasn’t, but if it had been in the novel, you could see Vauban and D’Artagnan at a duel.

[00:38:44] Elyse Rivin: Yeah, exactly.

[00:38:45] yeah, yeah.

[00:38:45] Annie Sargent: Fighting a duel and just deciding to kill one another.

[00:38:50] Elyse Rivin: Well, it’s really fascinating because it’s really interesting when you think about this. Louis XIV considered both of them to be so important to him, both professionally uh, and personally, that he decided that he had to come in between the two of them to stop whatever was going on and realized… the bickering… and, and apparently it was really keeping Vauban from doing his work because there really was a lot of tension between the two of them. And, And so, obviously Louis XIV must have realized that that was not the best decision that he had ever made, even though it brought lots of riches to D’Artagnan uh, to make him governor that this was not his thing, you know?

[00:39:30] So he relieved D’Artagnan of his um, position as governor of the region around Lille and basically uh, D’Artagnan went back to court and asked the king if he could go back to being what he had always been, which was a soldier.

[00:39:46] Wow. That’s just crazy that he had a cushy job there and he didn’t like it.

[00:39:50] He didn’t like it. He, he, he had to, And so in 1671, he went to battle again with Louis XIV, who really went to battle. I mean, he was in front of his troops, he was in the front of, of all of these battles and everything. And they went and attacked the the.

[00:40:04] Uh, what they call, the, the count, the orange counties, the Netherlands, you know, which was their archenemy at this point. Uh,

[00:40:10] And Louis XIV said to him, I will, you can stay uh, captain of, of the company of the Musketeers, but you shouldn’t be out there on the front lines anymore. This is not where you’re supposed to be, you know, probably in some very more diplomatic way, saying you know, I think you’re a little bit too old.

[00:40:26] You shouldn’t be doing this anymore. You know, uh, and, And uh, D’Artagnan did not listen to him. He did not listen to him. So he fought alongside Louis XIV and they headed for the town of Maastricht.

[00:40:39] Annie Sargent: Ah, yes, yes.

[00:40:40] Elyse Rivin: Which of course now is one of the places that’s got some of the headquarters of the European Community, uh, and which is where there was a very famous and very long drawn out battle between the Dutch forces, who were of course reinforced by the Germans, the Protestant countries of the North, and some of the English and the French, who had, some of their allies with them.

[00:41:04] But it was mostly at that point, the French versus the Dutch, and they went to battle together. And it was there, at a point when they should have won, uh, that they got themselves stuck in a kind of ambush. And uh, on the front lines, a whole number of the soldiers of the Musketeers got caught. And D’Artagnan left the, the, I guess, I don’t even remember now the word what would you call the back lines, you know, where you keep the, where the head officers are waiting for to see what’s happening in battle.

[00:41:36] You know, the,

[00:41:36] the,

[00:41:36] the,

[00:41:36] the

[00:41:36] he, He saw what was happening because they theoretically should have been winning the battle without any problem, but they strategically got caught in some kind of an ambush, and he went out to the front lines, to basically talk to his soldiers to see if he could figure out what they could do.

[00:41:54] And he got hit. Um, by uh, I don’t even know if it was uh it was actually uh, a gunpowder or a bullet, or an obus uh, from, from the enemy lines, and he got killed.

[00:42:04] And this is in June of 1673.

[00:42:08] Annie Sargent: So he died in battle.

[00:42:10] Elyse Rivin: So he died in battle. And the story is, uh, and it was recorded by people who indeed were there, uh, that he didn’t realize at first that he had been hit. He went out to try and save some of his soldiers, and he was lying there, he didn’t die instantly. It Apparently took a certain amount of time for him to die. And four of his Musketeer soldiers went to get him to bring him back behind the front lines, hoping that they could save him and if not, at least, to bring him back and they themselves got killed.

[00:42:39] So in the process of trying to save him, not only did D’Artagnan die, but four of his Musketeer soldiers died along with him.

[00:42:48] Now, the irony of all this is that his body was never found.

[00:42:53] Annie Sargent: What?

[00:42:54] Elyse Rivin: They have never found his body. Nobody knows. It is assumed, was assumed that he was buried somewhere along the battle lines in Maastricht. But nobody knows where exactly.

[00:43:08] Nobody knows why his body was not immediately recuperated.

[00:43:12] And since then, and so since 1673, over all these years, all these centuries, there have been constant digs by archaeologists, by historians, in the graveyards and the crypts of various churches in this whole section, somewhere from Lille up to Maastricht, looking for the remains of D’Artagnan. He was never found. Nobody knows why. Nobody knows what happened to his body. But Louis XIV who was actually in battle, I don’t know if he actually witnessed him being killed, but he was actually in battle with him. Now, remember this is D’Artagnan is maybe somewhere between 55 and 60 years old, at the most 60 probably, Um, Louis XIV is 20 years younger.

[00:43:57] Uh, Still a young, relatively young vital man. At the moment that he died, Louis XIV is quoted as saying, I have just lost D’Artagnan, in whom I have had all my life total confidence, and who was good at all things. He was honest, loyal, the best of men with integrity and generosity.

[00:44:23] Annie Sargent: Wow, that’s quite a compliment.

[00:44:24] Elyse Rivin: It was quite a compliment. And it was uh, Louis XIV who then took charge of his family and raised his two sons, who both became important soldiers and officers in his army, and in the army of course, later on of Louis XV. And one of whom had children and has actually, there are descendants still alive of D’Artagnan.

[00:44:51] Annie Sargent: That would be cool, man.

[00:44:53] A descendant of D’Artagnan!

[00:44:56] Elyse Rivin:Isn’t that,

Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras, Les Mémoirs de Monsieur d’Artagnan

[00:44:56] Elyse Rivin: And so, to get to Dumas and in 1700, so 27 years after his death, a man named Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras wrote a book called Les Mémoires de Monsieur d’Artagnan. And apparently, this was a man whose writing was well known at the time, who wrote basically what would be considered to be fake memoirs. I mean, he based it on a lot of stuff he could find out at the time. I’m sure that there were people who wrote about D’Artagnan and there were records, historical records of things, and uh, but he wrote this book, which apparently was a huge immediate success.

[00:45:33] I guess there were still people alive who knew about him, Louis XIV was still alive actually, in 1700. And it was this book, the memoirs that he wrote that were used by Dumas for writing his books.

[00:45:46] Annie Sargent: Right. So this, we’re going to end on this because we don’t have that much more time, but the Les Trois Mousquetaires was published in France as a serial work uh, in the newspaper Le Siècle, uh, between March and July of 1844.

[00:46:03] Now serialization. serialization was a really popular thing to do. Uh, Victor Hugo did it. Uh, Dickens did it. And they were all contemporaries, uh, these authors.

[00:46:13] And, uh, Because it allowed a story to gain popularity, you know, because you read this bit of the story in, in, uh, in a newspaper and you’re like, oh, I want to, where is this going next?

[00:46:23] And with the writing of Dumas, obviously you wanted to know what was going to happen next, because it was so vivid, I mean, so like full of, uh, full of fantastic um, happenings and…

[00:46:34] Yes, yes, definitely a lot of suspense.

[00:46:37] um, The book was uh, then uh, published as a book a year later, after the end of the serialized run. And like you mentioned, this book was based on a novel, well, yeah, a novel, a biography of sorts uh, by Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras. And uh, story has it that Alexandre Dumas found this book in the Bibliothèque de France.

[00:47:05] Read it and I mean, good authors are always reading and looking for inspiration and good stories, right? And so, I mean, He greatly expanded on the story. He he, turned it into something truly remarkable. I mean You know, this is. This is not like, uh, I mean, the story of his real life is remarkable enough, but the story in the book is like, oh, wow.

[00:47:23] Elyse Rivin: It’s a superhero.

[00:47:24] Annie Sargent: A superhero. He never, you know, it never ends.

[00:47:27] So we know that uh, Dumas collaborated with Auguste Maquet who was a writer and historian who helped helped with, with the research, and the initial, you know, um, uh, kind of figuring out who this guy was and where we’re going to take the story.

[00:47:41] Um, It’s obvious that Maquet had some role in the novel, but uh, he’s not recognized anywhere. Like, you know, he helped him, he helped Dumas flesh out the story and and so forth, but we don’t know to what extent, you know, uh, who did what writing. It’s, that’s always a, you know, At any rate, the novel was a sensation in France uh from, from the beginning, it gained uh, international acclaim.

[00:48:05] The characters: D’Artagnan, Atos, Portos and Aramis and, and you know, there’s the themes of friendship, honor, political intrigue. Have, It’s made it one of the most widely read uh, and adapted works in. in literature as well as movies, and there’s been multiple sequels, uh, stage adaptation, films.

[00:48:26]Like, like you mentioned, 36. 32. 32,

[00:48:26] Elyse Rivin: 32.

[00:48:28] Annie Sargent: Okay.

[00:48:28] So, a lot of movies, you know. Um, So it testifies to the fact that this story has had a lasting impact. And I find it fantastic that it all happened here, right here in the southwest of France.

[00:48:43] Well, most of the story does not take place in the southwest of France, but we remember him fondly.

[00:48:49] So there are statues…

[00:48:51] Elyse Rivin: in Condon uh, which is one of the towns in Gers, uh, uh, there are statues in Auch, there is statues in a lot of places, and uh, I, I tried to find out if there were, how many cities or towns in France had a D’Artagnan Square or street, but there’s no way of knowing. There’s absolutely none.

[00:49:07] You know, I think every place does.

[00:49:08] Annie Sargent: I’ll, I’ll look it up. But yes, it’s, I mean, the name is famous and sometimes people spell it Dartagnan without the apostrophe, but, I mean, it doesn’t really matter. You know, by now it’s all linked. you know, it’s, it’s, it’s uh So a fantastic story. I will do a Patreon reward about the novel. Um, and you know, I, I, I loved it.

[00:49:29] I have, I started reading this book when I was a kid, obviously, and I’ve read it many times over the years, and it’s equally entertaining and there’s so many twists and turns in the story, that it’s actually hard to keep track. Because so much happens and you know, and you, you discover that so and so was actually somebody’s husband, somebody, you know, that’s that… like constant reveals of things that… surprises that you weren’t expecting.

[00:49:58] So I think it’s one of the fun novels, you know, if, and it’s easy to read.

[00:50:03] This one, I mean, even in French, it’s not a hard book to read. Like it’s, uh, Because what Dumas does is that, contrary to Victor Hugo, who spent an inordinate amount of words setting up the history and setting up the, the scene and all that.

[00:50:21] I mean, Hugo can write a whole, he can write a hundred pages, just telling you the backstory of one of the major characters. Dumas does not do this. Dumas I mean, there are some beautiful descriptions and beautiful, but it’s very succinct.

[00:50:38] Elyse Rivin: To the action. It’s straight to the action.

[00:50:39] Annie Sargent: Exactly. It’s just action constantly.

[00:50:42] Because

[00:50:42] I mean,

[00:50:42] The point is that it keeps moving, right? So the point is not to, you know, give you all the backdrop and all of that, although he does it very effectively in just a few lines. Uh, So he’s a masterful, masterful, uh, author and somebody who just knew how to put a damn good story together.

[00:51:02] Elyse Rivin: he had good, He had good material.

[00:51:05] Annie Sargent: He did. He did. And, and it’s, And all of the characters that he brings into the page are fantastic. Like they’re They’re all extraordinary people. Yes, you have your valet. So it’s either, it’s the characters that appear in the novel, they’re either uh, really important and you can tell right away because they get introduced a little more.

[00:51:25] Or it’s just the valet, the nun, uh, the, you know, he has a whole cast of characters that are just stereotypical.

[00:51:34] Um, But the ones that matter, um, are they, they are extraordinary. Yeah They’re unbelievable, they’re so good, or so evil.

[00:51:43] And that’s why I want to do the, That’s why I want to do the Patreon reward about this, because the, the, the. the evil part of the book, uh, Milady, uh, is, is a really interesting character as well. But we don’t have time for this today. Thank you so much, Elyse. That was very fun.

[00:51:57] Elyse Rivin: That was a lot of fun, Annie.

[00:51:59] Annie Sargent: Au revoir.

[00:52:00] Au revoir.



[00:52:07] Annie Sargent: The Join Us in France Travel Podcast is written, hosted, and produced by Annie Sargent and Copyright 2023 by Addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons, attribution, non-commercial, no derivatives license.

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Categories: French Culture, French History