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The writer, who has an intimate knowledge of the long and glorious history of his family, sets out to rectify the false ideas concerning his ancestors that have been put about by some of the great writers from the past.
Saint-Simon's judgement of the Marshal Pierre de Montesquiou d'Artagnan was both harsh and mistaken, and one can only but agree with the author that the imaginative powers of an unashamed romanticist such as Alexandre Dumas, who traced the life of Charles de Batz-Castelmore, the Marshal's uncle, are no substitute for the irresistible charm of the truth.
Once again, fiction pales before historic fact. With sparkling scholarship, the author leads us to an original confrontation between legend and history.
The foreword to the book is by Marc Bloch:
A long time ago Michelet and Fustel de Coulanges taught us to recognize that the nature of man (or men) is the object of history. Beyond the tangible folds and undulations of the landscape, the tools and machines, behind the outwardly most austere writings and the institutions apparently completely detached from those who created them, it is the men that history will remember....
Pierre de Montesquiou
Count d'Artagnan, then Count de Montesquiou (1640 – 12th August, 1725), soldier of France, Musketeer to the King before becoming Marshal of France.
Fourth son of Henry, the Ist Montesquiou, and Lord of Artagnan through his wife, Jeanne, daughter of Jean de Gassion, he was also the cousin of Charles de Batz de Castelmore, the Count d'Artagnan, the celebrated d'Artagnan of the novels of Alexandre Dumas. He served for 23 years as a Musketeer in the French Guards before being promoted to the rank of Brigadier in 1688, Marshal-de-camp in 1691 and Lieutenant-General on the 3rd of January, 1696.
He was named Marshal of France on the 15th of September, 1709, on the personal decision of King Louis XIV, following the heroic Battle of Malplaquet, where he saved a large part of the French Army by a well-ordered retreat in spite of incessant attacks by the enemy forces. He himself was wounded in combat, and had three horses shot from under him. He died at his home, the Château of Plessis-Piquet, on the 12th of August, 1725, and was buried in the parish church on the 14th of that month. His tomb disappeared during the French Revolution.