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Charles de Batz

charles de batz

His real name was Charles de Batz-Castelmore, Count d'Artagnan, a French soldier born between 1611 and 1615 at the Château of Castelmore, near Lupiac, in Gascogny (which is today the County of Gers) and who died at the siege of Maastricht on the 25th of June, 1673. According to some witnesses, he was killed by a musket ball in the throat, while others claim he was shot in the chest while fighting on what should have been his rest day. The site of his tomb is unknown.

Let the legend commence.

However, the historian Odile Bordaz thinks she has found d'Artagnan's tomb in the church of St. Peter and Paul in Wolder, close to Maastricht. In fact, it is in this village that Louis XIV and his Musketeers set up their headquarters, and it was from there that d'Artagnan and his men left to attack the ramparts of the town where he met his death.

In the end, we know little of the real d'Artagnan. There exists a portrait of him who's authenticity cannot be guaranteed, and the doubtful « memoirs » ,where truth and fiction are mixed, and which appeared in 1700, 27 years after his death. This was the work of Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras, who discovered the life of the Gasconny hero during one of his stays in the Bastille, when Besmaux, ex-companion of d'Artagnan, was Governor.

It was thanks to these memoirs, that Alexandre Dumas discovered the details of the life of d'Artagnan. In June, 1843, while on a visit to the Marseilles home of his friend, Joseph Mery, Dumas, while browsing through the well-stocked library of his host, came across the book and "borrowed" it. He never gave it back. The book became his favourite bedtime reading, and was the inspiration for his celebrated trilogy.

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