Special Sub-Topic: The Musketeer Chronicle
|You tell the librarian that you are looking for information on the beginning of Louis XIII's reign, which is the background of the events in "The Three Musketeers". She takes you to the archive room, where all the documents are placed on shelves according to the century they belong. You must go to the shelf number:|
17. The events in Dumas' "The Three Musketeers" take place between the years 1626 and 1628. Actually, the real d'Artagnan, who was called Charles de Batz de Castelmore, joined the Cardinal's Guards in 1635 and then the Musketeers in 1644. Dumas changed the chronology in order to suit his plot.
|Now that you have found the correct shelf, you grab a pile of old newspapers and you head towards an empty table. You sit down and... oops! You realize that you've just sat on something. You quickly get up and you are surprised to find out that it's a book on French authors. You take it and you sit on the chair again (this time you make sure there is nothing on it) and you open the book. You are happy to discover that in the 19th century there was another famous quartet, only this time it involved not musketeers, but novelists. They were: Cherville, Noël Parfait, Alexandre Dumas and...|
Victor Hugo. The four were inseparable and they were best friends. Cherville even wrote a novel that was published under Alexandre Dumas' name. When Victor Hugo was exiled, they all accompanied him to Anvers, where he embarked for England. It was a hard goodbye and they all hugged. That's when the quartet became a trio.
|Delighted about what you have just found out, you start going through the newspapers. Thanks to your faithful dictionary you are able to translate the words and understand their meaning. The front page of an edition of "Paris Aujourd'hui" makes you curious. You read the title of the biggest article: "Great Royal Wedding Planned". You read further about the wedding between Louis XIII, the King of France and the Spanish Princess Anne of Austria. You remember from history class that by that time Louis was 14. At his age his father was already known for his love affairs. What was his father's name again?|
Henry IV. At the beginning of the year 1615 the young King, Louis XIII, was told about his upcoming marriage with Anne of Austria, daughter of the King of Spain, Philip III, and Queen Margareta. But the French King wasn't too excited about it. Still, eager to find out if the rumors about Anne's incredible looks (she was said to be very, very beautiful) were true, he sent his faithful friend, Luynes, to welcome the Princess when she would be entering France. He came back to Louis with good news, of course. Anne was a lovely and charming lady.
|You grab another newspaper, it's called "L'espion de Lyon", and you open it at the ads page. In the SELL column you can read a small ad: "Béarn pony, 13 years old, yellow colored, with no hair in his tail, having windgalls on his legs. He goes with his head lower than his knees, so you won't need a martingale. Nevertheless, he is able to perform eight leagues a day." You laugh loudly, and everyone turns their head in your direction. They look like they have never seen such behavior in a library before. But you don't mind them and get on with your reading. You wonder who could've written such a funny ad, but you soon realize to whom the horse belonged.|
d'Artagnan. Indeed, d'Artagnan arrived in Paris on his famous yellow horse. It was one of the three gifts that his father had given to him at his departure, along with 15 crowns and important advice. He also made d'Artagnan promise that he wouldn't sell the poor horse, because he was born in his family, and he was almost 13. But the future musketeer had to break his promise. In need of money, he sold the horse when he entered Paris, next to the gate of Saint Antoine. The man who bought it paid 3 crowns, "admitting that he only gave that enormous sum on the account of the originality of his color"(chapter "The Three Presents Of D'Artagnan The Elder").
|You can't help smiling when you think about the yellow horse, but you soon forget about it when you find in another newspaper, "Le Soleil de Marseille", a whole page dedicated to sports. Wondering what were the games played in that century you quickly scan the articles. In one of them you find an interesting game: "jeu de paume". You don't find it in the dictionary, but you do remember that the four musketeers loved this game and used to play it. It resembled a game played nowadays, which includes a ball and two opponent sides.|
tennis. The four musketeers did love to play "jeu de paume". It resembled very much the tennis we play today. In the scene shown in the book Porthos and Aramis only play it, because Athos had a wounded arm, and d'Artagnan admitted that he was too clumsy to handle a serious match.
|Suddenly you notice an old lady approaching your table. She is carrying lots of documents from the archive room, so you kindly get up and offer to help her. You relieve her of the load, placing all the documents on the table. She seats down next to you, almost whispering with a gentle voice "merci". You answer her in your lousy French, and then you see an old newspaper on the floor. It must have fallen from your pile when you got up earlier. You take it and you start reading it. It's called "Viennent les Parisiens". You turn the page and you read the next ad: "Gentleman from Béarn. New in town. Looking for a loyal lackey, brave enough to adventure by my side everywhere I go." Of course you know who will become this adventurous gentleman's lackey.|
Planchet. When d'Artagnan got 40 pistoles from the King, he split them evenly with his friends, but then he didn't know what to do with his share. Athos suggested he should order a good repast at Pomme-de-Pin, Porthos said he should engage a lackey and Aramis thought he should provide himself with a suitable mistress. In the end, d'Artagnan got himself a lackey, Planchet, the best he could have found. Planchet always stood by his master even in the most dangerous adventures.
|You can feel someone starring at you. You stop reading and you look around. It's the old lady, and she looks really angry. She starts shouting at you in French, but you don't understand a word she's saying. She keeps yelling and pointing at the newspaper you are holding. You now realize that it was hers. Trying to apologize, you hand her the newspaper. Infuriated, she heads to another table. Again, you feel that everyone is gazing at you. Embarrassed, you get back to your reading. On the front page of "L'Importance de France", dated October 3rd 1626, are written with large bold characters the following words: "Great Ball to be Held Tonight at the City Hall". You suddenly remember the famous jewels worn by Queen Anne that night, the ones successfully retrieved by the brave d'Artagnan. That entire hullabaloo for saving the Queen's honor, endangered by Richelieu's mischievous intrigues! Of course, you can also remember the exact number of diamonds the jewel had on the ball night.|
12. This ball and its circumstances are real facts. Of course, Dumas had to change them a bit in order to bring d'Artagnan into the picture. Cardinal Richelieu was very much in love with the Queen and he hated her because she refused to accept his affection. So he was doing everything in his power to keep her unhappy. He was especially jealous of Buckingham because of the rumors that something was going on between him and the Queen. So when he found out that Anne had given the Duke a precious jewel (which she had received from her husband) Richelieu decided to play a little trick on the proud Spanish Princess, uncovering in front of the King her affair with Buckingham. But his evil plot wasn't successful, and, the night of the Ball, the jewel had all the twelve diamonds.
|Looking outside the window you can see the sun going down and you remember the librarian telling you that the archive room will close at 9 p.m. So you try to hurry up because tomorrow you have to go back home and you want to get to read all the newspapers. "Dangerous mission. Required: a brave man ready to adventure overseas in England to retrieve a very precious object. The honor of a great court figure is at stake. Substantial reward." This is what you read when you turn the page to the ads section. It all sounds just too familiar and you could only imagine who is that "great court figure". Then, the person in England who held the "precious object" surely must be...|
Duke of Buckingham. This ad is inspired entirely by the fictional half of the book. The jewel was indeed in Buckingham's possession and the Cardinal intended to take two of the 12 diamonds of the jewel, so the Queen would be wearing only ten at the Ball. Then Richelieu would reveal the other two to the King and thus the whole charade would be unmasked. In order to materialize his plan he paid 50,000 pounds to Lady Clarick (who had been Buckingham's lover) for her to get two of the diamonds. She managed to carry out this task at a great ball the Duke was attending. But Buckingham noticed that the diamonds were missing and he feared that the Queen might fall victim to an evil plot, so he ordered every harbor to close down. In the meantime his jeweler was making two fake diamonds that looked like the others and then the jewel was sent by ship in France. So, at the City Hall Ball, Queen Anne was able to wear it. This is how it actually happened, so, you see, d'Artagnan's intervention wasn't necessary.
|You grab another paper. This time it's a local gazette called "Le Quotidien d'Amiens". You open it at page number five and you start reading an interesting looking article: "One week ago our peaceful town was disturbed by the fuss created by a gentleman who opposed arrest in the "Golden Lily" inn. As we have been informed, this man was accused of being a coiner of bad money. In his attempt to fight back he was overwhelmed and he had to retreat in the nearby cellar. Later it was found out that he was innocent and that he actually was a musketeer of His Majesty, our King. Unfortunately, when the innkeeper tried to apologize and invited him to come out of the cellar, the clever musketeer thought it was a trap and refused the invitation. «There is our wine in bottles, and our wine in casks; the beer, the oil, and the spices, the bacon, and sausages. And as we are prevented from going down there, we are forced to refuse food and drink to the travelers who come to the house; so that our hostelry is daily going to ruin», says the unfortunate innkeeper, whose provisions are daily consumed by the stubborn musketeer. His name has not been revealed yet." Oh, perhaps they didn't know his name, but you certainly do.|
Athos. Cardinal Richelieu set it all up. But his attempts to stop d'Artagnan from going to England failed, only thanks to the brave companions of the Gascon, the three musketeers, who would rather stay behind and fight the Cardinal's Spies than put in danger their friend's secret mission. They followed d'Artagnan without knowing what was his goal, guided only by true friendship and great courage (the innkeeper's statement is a quote from "The Three Musketeers", chapter "The wife of Athos").
|Amused by the things you have just read, you open the newspaper "Bonjour Toujours" at the ads page, wondering what other issue you are going to find. Here's an interesting one: "I am an honorable and trustworthy musketeer. I am in the search for suitable equipment that I will need in the upcoming battle near La Rochelle. I need two horses, one really strong for myself and one for my lackey. I already have a beautiful, hard earned saddle, arrived directly from England. I will also need a chest and a new extra large uniform. My recommendations are high: I am financially supported by the wife of a respectable, well-known lawyer." Who could have written this ad, you wonder!?|
Porthos. This one is just for laughs. Porthos actually got his equipment from his mistress, Madame Coquenard. She promised to give him everything that he needed. She offered him one of the many empty chests her husband had and also the amount of 800 livres for upkeep and other expenses. She also procured him a magnificent Spanish genet and a beautiful Andalusian mule for Mousqueton, his lackey. Unfortunately, her husband found out about them and replaced the magnificent beasts with two horrible horses. Madame Coquenard ended up marrying Porthos at the end of the book, after her husband had died.
|Below this ad you find another one: "Noble gentleman would like to pawn a valuable family inheritance. It's a sapphire ring, worth 2000 crowns. I hope I will receive in trade at least 1000, which I intend to split with my friend, a soldier in captain des Essarts' troops." You realize it's Athos who placed the ad in "Bonjour Toujours". His friend, the soldier in captain des Essarts' troops, must be...|
d'Artagnan. Athos had the sapphire ring from his mother, who received it from his father as a wedding gift. One night, when he was young and in love, Athos offered it to Anne de Breuil, his future wife, known as Milady after she married the Lord de Winter. Milady gave it to d'Artagnan in a dark night, believing he was the Count de Wardes. D'Artagnan showed the sapphire to Athos, who recognized it. At d'Artagnan's advice, he decided to pawn it (because he couldn't keep it after "it has passed through the hands of that infamous creature"), but only on one condition. They would split the revenue evenly. D'Artagnan had to accept, because Athos threatened him that he would otherwise throw the ring in the Seine.
|The librarian comes. She tells you that it is 9:00 p.m., and she must close the library. Realizing you are the only one left, you ask her for another 5 minutes. She doesn't say anything, but she leaves the room irritated. The next newspaper is an English one. It's called "The Truth of Portsmouth" and it's dated August 24th 1628. The front page is all black, and the main title, written in white characters, is occupying almost the entire page: "Duke of Buckingham is Dead". You read about his assassination and you remember from the "The Three Musketeers" his last gesture before dying, which is not stated in the article. He gave La Porte, a messenger who had just brought a letter from the Queen, the mission to deliver to his beloved Anne three objects: "the scent bag of white satin on which her cipher was embroidered in pearls", "the silver casket in which the diamond studs were kept", and...|
the dagger he had been stabbed with. The real Duke of Buckingham was indeed stabbed on the 23rd of August 1628 while walking out of his room along with the count of Soubisse and the messengers from La Rochelle. He pulled out by himself the dagger that wounded him and said: "Ah, the bastard! He killed me!" Then he died, in the arms of his companions, without saying another word. The assassin was lieutenant John Felton, who declared that he had murdered the Duke because he had been giving disastrous advice to the King. When Queen Anne found out about her lover's death, she almost fainted and she remained so broken-hearted, that she didn't even try to hide her grief away from the King. Like her, Louis XIII didn't hide his feelings, which, in his case, were joy and happiness (the quote in the question, which regards the two objects, is from the chapter "What took place at Portsmouth").
|You quickly grab the next one, "La Tribune de Béthune", and you find an article about a funeral: "Yesterday at the Carmelites convent was held the funeral in honor of a recently arrived nun, named Ketty, who died poisoned. At this sad event, against all monastic custom, participated five gentlemen: four musketeers of the King and one English Lord". You know better! Her name wasn't Ketty; that was just a way to hide her real identity from those who were searching for her. Her name was actually...|
Constance Bonacieux. Constance had been a faithful servant of Anne of Austria, so her life was in danger because the Cardinal was trying to remove from Court every close friend of the Queen's. That's why she was hidden in the monastery with a new identity, the nun Ketty.
|You grab the very last newspaper, "Les Mystères du Terre". The front page has an interesting head title: "Une crime mystérieuse", that's French for "A mysterious crime". You're very curious about it and you are eager to read it, but the librarian almost kicks you out of the building. Fortunately, you manage to take the newspaper with you, without her noticing. Being so dark outside, you head towards a street lamp to read it: "Yesterday a few men were fishing in the Lys river, when they accidentally found the dead body of a woman which was brought to the surface of the water by the fast currents. It was covered with a red cloak. The fishermen were afraid to unfold it, so they called the authorities, who found out that the woman had died by decapitation. Her identity hasn't been determined yet. The only sign of identification is a tattoo on her left shoulder - the woman is branded..." Terrified, you stop reading any further. It suddenly starts raining. Thank goodness you have your raincoat with you. You put it on and then you fold the newspaper, placing it safely in your front pocket. Even if the authorities never found out who the woman had been, you have no doubt that the article is about...|
Milady de Winter. The red cloak in which her body was covered belonged to the executioner in Lille. After he beheaded Milady, he placed her head next to her body and wrapped them up. After that he rowed his boat into the middle of the river Lys and he threw the corpse into the deep water, crying in a loud voice: "Let the justice of God be done!"(chapter "Execution").
|Suddenly, all the lights go out and you hear a really loud whistle. Through the dense darkness you can discern hundreds of French policemen who are coming to arrest you. All this fuss for an old newspaper! You feel lots of hands grabbing you. The police forces are all over! But why doesn't that annoying whistle stop?! You open your eyes and... you find yourself at home in bed. You instinctively turn off the alarm clock. My Goodness! It was nothing but a dream! ... Come to think about it, it was all too silly, going to France to search the archive for the characters of a book. But it all seemed so real! Although... it couldn't have been! There were hardly any newspapers in that century and even so, they couldn't have possibly written about fictional characters. You remember reading on the Internet that the first French newspaper ever published was called...|
La Gazette. On the 30th of May 1631, under the reign of Louis XIII, Richelieu supported Théophraste Renaudot, aged 45, in order to found "La Gazette", the first newspaper published in France. This weekly page of information got its name from a currency (gazetta), which was equal to the price of one journal in Venice. In the same year, on the 17th of July, another weekly newspaper was published. It was the work of two Parisian librarians, Jean Martin and Louis Vendosme, and it was called "Nouvelles ordinaires de divers endroits". (Information from www.herodote.net)...
Still confused about your dream, you get up. On your way to the bathroom you notice in the hallstand your wet raincoat. Huh? Why could it be wet? A creepy thought crosses your mind... No, it couldn't be... But still you slowly head towards it and you reach your hand into the front pocket. It is definitely something in it. You take it out and... What is this?! You can't believe your eyes! A really old French newspaper! You nervously unfold it and read the head title on the front page: "Une crime mystérieuse"...
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