It never fails. You sit down to watch a “Three Musketeers” movie or TV show and you’re quickly introduced to Athos, Porthos, and Aramis…and also D’Artagnan.
Not one of the movies ever takes the time to explain why the Three Musketeers blatantly features four musketeers.
But first, a little about the French Musketeers: Musketeers were actually a common European military unit, known for carrying, well, muskets. In France, they were a little more serious than that. Their full name was “Musketeers of the Guard” and the unit was created by King Louis XIII when he purchased muskets for a unit of light cavalry.
And of course, swords.
The Musketeers became the Royal bodyguard but also fought in France’s wars. they were like the Secret Service, if the Secret Service had a special operations unit that worked in frontline combat.
Back to the four musketeers.
French author Alexandre Dumas’ epic takes place in the 1620s and follows a young man named D’Artagnan who has just left his home to go to Paris and join the Musketeers of the Guard. The young man meets and befriends “The Inseparables,” a trio of Musketeers named Athos, Porthos, and Aramis.
The barracks party with these three must have been off le chaîne.
D’Artagnan does not actually become a Musketeer of the Guard until two-thirds through the book. Since the story is from D’Artagnan’s point of view and he’s not yet a Musketeer, it would be a very early version of stolen valor on the young man’s part to call himself one.
If you read the book or watch the movie and just can’t get enough D’Artagnan, I have good news for you. The character was based on a real person, Charles de Batz-Castelmore d’Artagnan.
Dumas continues his adventures in “The Vicomte de Bragelonne: Ten Years Later” and “Twenty Years After.”