The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers (French: Les Trois Mousquetaires [le tʁwɑ muskətɛːʁ]) is a historical adventure novel written in 1844 by French author Alexandre Dumas. It is in the swashbuckler genre, which has heroic, chivalrous swordsmen who fight for justice.
Set between 1625 and 1628, it recounts the adventures of a young man named d'Artagnan (a character based on Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan) after he leaves home to travel to Paris, hoping to join the Musketeers of the Guard. Although d'Artagnan is not able to join this elite corps immediately, he is befriended by three of the most formidable musketeers of the age – Athos, Porthos and Aramis, "the three musketeers", or “the three inseparables” – and becomes involved in affairs of state and at court.
The Three Musketeers is primarily a historical and adventure novel. However, Dumas frequently portrays various injustices, abuses, and absurdities of the Ancien Régime, giving the novel an additional political significance at the time of its publication, a time when the debate in France between republicans and monarchists was still fierce. The story was first serialised from March to July 1844, during the July Monarchy, four years before the French Revolution of 1848 violently established the Second Republic.
Dumas presents his novel as one of a series of recovered manuscripts, turning the origins of his romance into a little drama of its own. In the Preface, he tells of being inspired by a scene in Mémoires de Monsieur d'Artagnan (1700), a historical novel by Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras, printed by Pierre Rouge in Amsterdam, which Dumas discovered during his research for his history of Louis XIV. According to Dumas, the incident where d'Artagnan tells of his first visit to M. de Tréville, captain of the Musketeers, and how, in the antechamber, he encountered three young Béarnese with the names Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, made such an impression on him that he continued to investigate. That much is true – the rest is fiction: He finally found the names of the three musketeers in a manuscript titled Mémoire de M. le comte de la Fère, etc. Dumas “requested permission” to reprint the manuscript; permission was granted:
Now, this is the first part of this precious manuscript which we offer to our readers, restoring it to the title which belongs to it, and entering into an engagement that if (of which we have no doubt) this first part should obtain the success it merits, we will publish the second immediately.
In the meanwhile, since godfathers are second fathers, as it were, we beg the reader to lay to our account, and not to that of the Comte de la Fère, the pleasure or the ennui he may experience.
The Three Musketeers was written in collaboration with Auguste Maquet, who also worked with Dumas on its sequels (Twenty Years After and The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later), as well as The Count of Monte Cristo. Maquet would suggest plot outlines after doing historical research; Dumas then expanded the plot, removing some characters, including new ones, and imbuing the story with his unmistakable style.
In 1625 France, d'Artagnan leaves his family in Gascony and travels to Paris to join the Musketeers of the Guard. At a house in Meung-sur-Loire, an older man derides d'Artagnan's horse. Insulted, d'Artagnan demands a duel. But the older man's companions instead beat d'Artagnan unconscious with a cooking pot and a metal tong that breaks his sword. His letter of introduction to Monsieur de Tréville, the commander of the Musketeers, is also stolen. D'Artagnan resolves to avenge himself upon the older man, who is later revealed to be the Comte de Rochefort, an agent of Cardinal Richelieu, who is passing orders from the Cardinal to his spy, Lady de Winter, usually called Milady de Winter or simply "Milady".
In Paris, d'Artagnan visits Monsieur de Tréville at the headquarters of the Musketeers, but without the letter, Tréville politely refuses his application. He does, however, write a letter of introduction to an academy for young gentlemen which may prepare his visitor for recruitment at a later time. From Tréville's window, d'Artagnan sees Rochefort passing in the street below and rushes out of the building to confront him, but in doing so he offends three Musketeers, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, who each demand satisfaction; d'Artagnan must fight a duel with all of them that afternoon.
As d'Artagnan prepares himself for the first duel, he realizes that Athos's seconds are Porthos and Aramis, who are astonished that the young Gascon intends to duel them all. As d'Artagnan and Athos begin, Cardinal Richelieu's guards appear and attempt to arrest d'Artagnan and the three Musketeers for illegal dueling. Although they are outnumbered four to five, the four men win the battle. D'Artagnan seriously wounds Jussac, one of the Cardinal's officers and a renowned fighter. After learning of this, King Louis XIII appoints d'Artagnan to Des Essart's company of the King's Guards and gives him forty pistoles.
D'Artagnan hires a servant named Planchet, finds lodgings, and reports to Monsieur des Essart, whose company is a less prestigious regiment in which he will have to serve for two years before being considered for the Musketeers. Shortly after, his landlord speaks to him about the kidnapping of his wife, Constance Bonacieux. When she is presently released, d'Artagnan falls in love at first sight with her. She works for Queen Anne of France, who is secretly conducting an affair with the English Duke of Buckingham. The King, Louis XIII, gave the Queen a gift of diamond studs, but she gives them to her lover as a keepsake. Cardinal Richelieu, who wants war between France and England, plans to expose the tryst and persuades the King to demand the Queen wear the diamonds to a soirée that the Cardinal is sponsoring.
Constance tries to send her husband to London to fetch the diamonds from Buckingham, but the man is instead manipulated by Richelieu and thus does not go, so d'Artagnan and his friends intercede. En route to England, the Cardinal's henchmen repeatedly attack them and only d'Artagnan and Planchet reach London. Before arriving, d'Artagnan is compelled to assault, and nearly to kill, the Comte de Wardes, a friend of the Cardinal, cousin of Rochefort and Milady's lover. Although Milady stole two of the diamond studs, the Duke of Buckingham provides replacements while delaying the thief's return to Paris. D'Artagnan is thus able to return a complete set of jewels to Queen Anne just in time to save her honour. In gratitude, she gives him a beautiful ring.
Shortly afterwards, d'Artagnan begins an affair with Madame Bonacieux. Arriving for an assignation, he sees signs of a struggle and discovers that Rochefort and M. Bonacieux, acting under the orders of the Cardinal, have assaulted and imprisoned Constance. D'Artagnan and his friends, now recovered from their injuries, return to Paris. D'Artagnan meets Milady de Winter officially, and recognizes her as one of the Cardinal's agents, but becomes infatuated with her until her maid reveals that Milady is indifferent toward him. Entering her quarters in the dark, he pretends to be the Comte de Wardes and trysts with her. He finds a fleur-de-lis branded on Milady's shoulder, marking her as a felon. Discovering his identity, Milady attempts to kill him but d'Artagnan eludes her. He is ordered to the Siege of La Rochelle.
He is informed that the Queen has rescued Constance from prison. In an inn, the musketeers overhear the Cardinal asking Milady to murder the Duke of Buckingham, a supporter of the Protestant rebels at La Rochelle who has sent troops to assist them. Richelieu gives her a letter that excuses her actions as under orders from the Cardinal himself, but Athos takes it. The next morning, Athos bets that he, d'Artagnan, Porthos, and Aramis, and their servants can hold the recaptured St. Gervais bastion against the rebels for an hour, for the purpose of discussing their next course of action. They resist for an hour and a half before retreating, killing 22 Rochellese in total; d'Artagnan is made a Musketeer as a result of this feat.
They warn Lord de Winter and the Duke of Buckingham. Milady is imprisoned on arrival in England, but she seduces her guard, Felton (a fictionalization of the real John Felton), and persuades him to allow her escape and to kill Buckingham himself. On her return to France, Milady hides in a convent where Constance is also staying. The naïve Constance clings to Milady, who sees a chance for revenge on d'Artagnan, and fatally poisons Constance before d'Artagnan can rescue her. The Musketeers arrest Milady before she reaches Cardinal Richelieu. They bring an official executioner, put her on trial and sentence her to death.
After her execution, the four friends return to the Siege of La Rochelle. The Comte de Rochefort arrests d'Artagnan and takes him to the Cardinal. When questioned about Milady's execution, d'Artagnan presents her letter of pardon as his own. Impressed with d'Artagnan's wilfulness and secretly glad to be rid of Milady, the Cardinal destroys the letter and writes a new order, giving the bearer a promotion to lieutenant in the Tréville company of Musketeers, leaving the name blank. D'Artagnan offers the letter to Athos, Porthos, and Aramis in turn but each refuses it; Athos because it is below him, Porthos because he is retiring to marry his wealthy mistress, and Aramis because he is joining the priesthood. D'Artagnan, though heartbroken and full of regrets, finally receives the promotion he had coveted.
Les Trois Mousquetaires was translated into three English versions by 1846. One of these, by William Barrow (1817–1877), is still in print and fairly faithful to the original, available in the Oxford World's Classics 1999 edition. To conform to 19th-century English standards, all of the explicit and many of the implicit references to sexuality were removed, adversely affecting the readability of several scenes, such as the scenes between d'Artagnan and Milady.
One recent English translation is by Richard Pevear (2006), who, though applauding Barrow's work, states that most of the modern translations available today are "textbook examples of bad translation practices" which "give their readers an extremely distorted notion of Dumas' writing."
The novel has been adapted also for television in live-action and animation.
Walt Disney Productions produced a Silly Symphony cartoon called, Three Blind Mouseketeers, which is loosely based on the novel in 1936, in which the characters are depicted as anthropomorphic animals.
The Three Musketeers was a Hanna-Barbera animated special from 1973. It was part of the 1970s-80s CBS anthology series Famous Classic Tales that was produced by Hanna-Barbera's Australian division and often aired around the holidays between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.
Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds is a 1981 Spanish–Japanese anime adaptation, where the characters are anthropomorphic dogs. A sequel, The Return of Dogtanian, was released in 1989 by BRB Internacional, Thames Television and Wang Film Productions. Set 10 years after of the original, it's loosely based on the novel The Vicomte de Bragelonne. A key difference between the two Dogtanian adaptions and Dumas' novel is that the character traits of Athos and Porthos were interchanged, making Athos the extrovert and Porthos the secretive noble of the group.
In 1989, Gakken produced a new anime adaptation called The Three Musketeers Anime, this time with human characters, which features several departures from the original.
Albert the Fifth Musketeer is a 1994 French animated series featuring a new musketeer, the titular Albert.
Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers, a direct-to-video animated movie produced by Walt Disney Pictures and the Australian office of DisneyToon Studios, directed by Donovan Cook, and released on August 17, 2004.
The Three Musketeers is a musical with a book by William Anthony McGuire, lyrics by Clifford Grey and P. G. Wodehouse, and music by Rudolf Friml. The original 1928 production ran on Broadway for 318 performances. A 1984 revival ran for 15 previews and 9 performances.
In 2003, a Dutch musical 3 Musketiers with a book by André Breedland and music & lyrics by Rob & Ferdi Bolland premiered, which went on to open in Germany (both the Dutch and German production starring Pia Douwes as Milady De Winter) and Hungary.
Playwright Peter Raby, composer George Stiles and lyricist Paul Leigh have written another adaptation titled The 3 Musketeers, One Musical For All, originally produced by the now defunct American Musical Theatre of San Jose.
In 2006, an adaptation by Ken Ludwig premiered at the Bristol Old Vic. In this version, d'Artagnan's sister Sabine, "the quintessential tomboy," poses as a young man and participates in her brother's adventures.
In 1995, publisher U.S. Gold released Touché: The Adventures of the Fifth Musketeer by video game developers Clipper Software, a classic point-and-click adventure game. In 2005, Swedish developer Legendo Entertainment published the side-scrolling platform game The Three Musketeers for Windows XP and Windows Vista. In July 2009, a version of the game was released for WiiWare in North America and Europe under the title The Three Musketeers: One for All!. In 2009, Canadian developer Dingo Games self-published The Three Musketeers: The Game for Windows and Mac OS X. It is the first game to be truly based on the novel (in that it closely follows the novel's story). 2009 also saw the publication of the asymmetric team board game The Three Musketeers "The Queen's Pendants" (Настольная игра "Три мушкетера") from French designer Pascal Bernard by the Russian publisher Zvezda. In 2010, a co-operative game called "Mousquetaires du Roy" was released by Ystari and Rio Grande. The alternative spelling of "Roy" was taken from the old French and is rumoured to be preferred over the regular spelling because the publishers desire to have a letter "Y" in the name of the games they publish. Designed by François Combe and Gilles Lehmann for 1-5 players, the medium heavy game depicts the quest to retrieve the Queen's diamonds, while at the same time fending off disasters back in Paris. A sixth player expansion, called "Treville" was also made available in 2010.
In 2016, KindaTV launched a web series based on the story of The Three Musketeers, called "All For One". It follows a group of college students, mainly Dorothy Castlemore, and is centred around a sorority- Mu Sigma Theta (MST). The majority of characters have been gender-swapped from the original story and most character names are based on the original characters.
It covers several themes including the LGBT community, mental health, long-distance relationships and college life.
Publisher Albert Lewis Kanter (1897–1973), created Classic Comics for Elliot Publishing Company in 1941 with its debut issues being The Three Musketeers. The Three Mouseketeers was the title of two series produced by DC Comics; the first series was a loose parody of The Three Musketeers.
In 1939, American author Tiffany Thayer published a book titled Three Musketeers (Thayer, 1939). This is a re-telling of the story in Thayer's words, true to the original plot but told in a different order and with different points of view and emphasis from the original.
Fantasy novelist Steven Brust's Khaavren Romances series have all used Dumas novels (particularly the D'Artagnan Romances) as their chief inspiration, recasting the plots of those novels to fit within Brust's established world of Dragaera. His 2020 novel The Baron of Magister Valley follows suit, using The Count of Monte Cristo as a starting point.
In the book The Assault, The Three Musketeers is quoted in the Prologue as the protagonist had the story read to him by Mr. Beumer, a lawyer who later becomes senile and in morbidity.
In the movie The Man in the Iron Mask the aging musketeers come out of retirement and reunite to save France from the spoiled, cruel young king Louis XIV (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). The movie features Jeremy Irons as Aramis, John Malkovich as Athos, Gerard Depardieu as Porthos, and Gabriel Byrne as D’Artagnon.
In Slumdog Millionaire Jamal Malik's final question was to correctly identify the name of the third musketeer- which was Aramis. Jamal did so and won twenty million rupees.
In the film Django Unchained one of the slaves, owned by Calvin Candie, is named D'Artagnan.
In Pokémon Black and White, the Pokémon Terrakion, Cobalion, and Virizion, known as the Swords of Justice, are based on the Three Musketeers. Cobalion represents Athos, Terrakion represents Porthos, and Virizion represents Aramis. The fourth Sword of Justice, Keldeo, represents d'Artagnan.
He was very taciturn, this worthy signor. Be it understood we are speaking of Athos. During the five or six years that he had lived in the strictest intimacy with his companions, Porthos and Aramis, they could remember having often seen him smile, but had never heard him laugh.
Ppcocaine's song "Three Musketeers" shares little with the novel but its title.