4.12.07

Charles de Batz-Castelmore, Comte d'Artagnan



History is a lovely thing, especially after the book that you read or the film that you watch has a thread of the actual lives concerned. Today I present the real D'Artagnan, somewhat different than the one portrayed in the movies yet similar as well.

D'Artagnan was born in Lupiac. His father was the son of a newly ennobled merchant, Arnaud de Batz, who purchased the castle of Castelmore. Charles de Batz went to Paris in the 1630s, using the name of his mother, daughter of an illustrious family, Françoise de Montesquiou d'Artagnan. D'Artagnan found a way to enter into the Musketeers in 1632, perhaps thanks to the influence of his family's friend, Monsieur de Tréville (Jean-Armand du Peyrer, Count of Troisvilles). While in the Musketeers, d'Artagnan sought the protection of the influential Cardinal Mazarin, France's principal minister since 1643. In 1646, the Musketeers company was dissolved, but d'Artagnan continued to serve his protector Mazarin.

D'Artagnan had a career in espionage for Cardinal Mazarin, in the years after the first Fronde. Due to d'Artagnan's faithful service during this period, Louis XIV entrusted him with many secret and delicate situations that required complete discretion. He followed Mazarin during his exile in 1651 in the face of the hostility of the aristocracy. In 1652 d'Artagnan was promoted to lieutenant in the Gardes Françaises, then to captain in 1655. In 1658, he became a second lieutenant in the newly reformed Musketeers. This was a promotion, as the Musketeers were far more prestigious than the Gardes-Françaises.

D'Artagnan was famous for his connection with the arrest of Nicolas Fouquet. Fouquet was Louis XIV's finance commissioner and aspired to take the place of Mazarin as the King's advisor. Fouquet was also a lover of grand architecture and employed the greatest architects and artisans in the building of his Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte. He celebrated the completion with a most extravagant feast, in which every guest was given a horse. The king however felt upstaged by the grandeur of the home and event and, suspecting that such magnificence could only be explained through Fouquet pilfering the royal treasury, immediately had d'Artagnan arrest Fouquet. D'Artagnan guarded him for four years until Fouquet was sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 1667, d'Artagnan was promoted to captain-lieutenant of the Musketeers, effectively the commander as the nominal captain was the King. As befitting his rank and position, he could be identified by his striking burgundy, white and black livery - the colours of the commanding officer of the Musketeers. Another of d'Artagnan's assignments was the governorship of Lille, which was won in battle by France in 1667. D'Artagnan was an unpopular governor, and longed to return to battle. He found his chance when Louis XIV went to war with the Dutch Republic in the Franco-Dutch War. After being recalled to service, d'Artagnan was subsequently killed in battle on June 25, 1673 when a musket ball tore into his throat at the Siege of Maastricht.

Now the reason this Novel and its successors is this is the period in French history when my family, in the person of one Etienne De Nevers, Sieur de Brantigny,(hence my Nom-de-Plume)left France for New France about 1645 and went to Ville Ste. Marie, now known as Montreal. I have always been fascinated by this period and what France looked like when my ancestor Etienne lived there.

In my humble opinion the 3 Musketeers film I like the best was made in 1973 starring Oliver Reed, Michael York and Raquel Welch. Two Sequels were made, and although there was some ribauldry done and A bit of irreverence to the Church I have enjoyed watching it over and over.

All for one! One for all.
Vive la Roi! Vive la Reine!
de Brantigny

3 comments:

elena maria vidal said...

Fascinating!

(and the soaps below look wonderful!)

de Brantigny said...

Its my daughter-in-law's business. She runs it out of her barn.

Anonymous said...

It is nice to know this bit of information. Are you planning on writing more on Nicholas Fouquet. There is more to him. I say this be cause he is my Great Great Great Great Grandfather.