The Three Musketeers is a historical adventure novel written in 1844 by French author Alexandre Dumas.
Situated between 1625 and 1628, it recounts the adventures of a young man named d'Artagnan (based on Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan) after he leaves home to travel to Paris, to join the Musketeers of the Guard. Although d'Artagnan is not able to join this elite corps immediately, he befriends the three most formidable musketeers of the age – Athos, Porthos and Aramis, "the three inseparables," as these are called – and gets involved in affairs of the state and court.
In genre, The Three Musketeers is primarily a historical and adventure novel. However, Dumas also frequently works into the plot various injustices, abuses, and absurdities of the old regime, giving the novel an additional political aspect at 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.
In 1625 France, d'Artagnan (a poor young nobleman) 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 M. 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, 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, a kind of gold coin.
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.
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