Sunday, November 16, 2008

D'Artagnan Buried in The Netherlands?

Only goes to show, the old saying is true: I learn something new every day! I thought the "The Three Musketeers" (plus one, sometimes) were purely fictional characters! Wrong! Dumas based his novel on a biography of a real D'Artagnan written about 25 years after his death. This is a fascinating story. Story from the Ottawa Citizen (Canada) Musketeer D'Artagnan's grave in Netherlands, historian says Adam Sage, The Ottawa CitizenPublished: Saturday, November 15, 2008 PARIS - A five-year quest to locate the tomb of d'Artagnan -- the inspiration for Alexandre Dumas's novel The Three Musketeers -- has led to a small Dutch church where new research suggests the swashbuckling hero is buried. Charles de Batz de Castelmore d'Artagnan died during the Siege of Maastricht on June 25, 1673, and, according to a leading French historian, was laid to rest only few kilometres away at Saint Peter and Paul Church in Wolder. "The trail is very precise," said Odile Bordaz, the author of several works on the musketeer. Ms. Bordaz discounted theories that d'Artagnan's body was brought back to France, and is pressing the Dutch authorities and the Catholic Church to approve an archaeological dig of the site. "I would rate the chance of success at 50/50," she said. "But it would be wonderful to find him. It's like a police inquiry." Dumas wrote The Three Musketeers in 1844 after reading about d'Artagnan's exploits in Les Memoires de Monsieur d'Artagnan, which was published almost 150 years earlier. Although he brought the action forward by 15 years and invented much of the storyline, the main characters are rooted in history. D'Artagnan was born in southwestern France between 1611 and 1615 and became a member of the King's musketeers by the age of 20. Athos, Porthos and Aramis were among his comrades. He engaged in cloak-and-dagger operations for Louis XIII and then for Louis XIV, the Sun King, who appointed him to lead the musketeers in 1658. Ms. Bordaz said that his reputation as a lady-killer was justified: "The musketeers and their officers led joyous lives and multiple conquests not only on the battlefield but also in the secret of the alcoves." D'Artagnan was killed during a charge led by the Duke of Monmouth, who was at the head of an English contingent allied to France. For decades, historians assumed that his body had been repatriated but Ms. Bordaz said she could find no trace of his tomb in France. She argued that because the hot, humid weather in June 1673 would have caused corpses to putrify rapidly, embalming would have been too costly and time-consuming. During the siege the bodies of French officers were buried in the nearest Catholic church and recently discovered documents revealed that d'Artagnan's camp was close to Wolder. This almost certainly meant that he was buried in Saint Peter and Paul Church, Ms. Bordaz said. Rev. Peter van der Aart, the parish's priest, said that there was a good possibility d'Artagnan was buried in or near the church, but said that an excavation would only be authorized if historians could be sure of the exact location of the tomb. "I don't think we could dig up everything to look for him." © The Ottawa Citizen 2008

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