The 'Characters' of the Musketeers Epic
There was a Louise de la Valliere and she was indeed a mistress of Louis XIV - Here they are costumed for a masquerade
Characters Encountered/Introduced in the Three Musketeers
Cardinal Richelieu - Cardinal Armand Duplessis (1585-1642) was the foundation which allowed France to become the powerful force that it became in Europe and created the conditions which Louis XIV would thrive in and strengthen the monarchy even further. Louis XIII, a weak and uninterested monarch, was a mere puppet to the the cardinal who was determined to make the monarchy an absolute and unchallenged power. Dumas is accused of being far too harsh on this historical figure who ultimately created the France that would come to its full glory.
The Count de Rochefort - The first man to cross our heroes path - and one of the consistent characters carried over to the movies of the Musketeer Epic is Rochefort. Villain, friend, mysterious - and of course, intriguing, Rochefort was also a topic of Courtilz de Sandras' writings. The 'Memoirs of Monsieur Le Comte de Rochefort' was written in 1678 - although Dumas version of the character doesn't take much from the already fictional memoirs. It is suggested that Courtilz loosely based Rochefort on Henri-Louis d'Aloigny, the Marquis de Rochefort - but this Rochefort was born many years too late to have even participated in the events of the novels.
Jussac - So many enemies, so little time for our hero D'Artagnan in the very first of the Musketeer novels. The true Jussac (Claude de Jussac 1620-1690) would have only been 5 years old at the time Dumas proposed the infamous duels of The Three Musketeers.
Anne of Austria - Anne of Austria, 1601-1666, was very much a real person. An enemy of Richelieu, a lover of Mazarin, and a defender of the monarchy against the Fronde (a revolt and protest of the monarchy) in France. Anne stubbornly fought against Richelieu's policies since his policies went again the interests of her Austrian-Spanish heritage. Anne died of breast cancer in 1666.
George Villiers, The Duke of Buckingham - Was this famous English nobleman ever in pursuit of Anne of Austria? Yes, he was forward with her. This was even noticed by Cardinal Richelieu. Was there ever the series of clandestine meetings between the two - Dumas is credited with these romantic stories. However, Dumas did actually see a purported story of the diamond studs, not from Courtilz, but another source, the Memoires of La Rochefoucauld.
The Countess De Winter - Courtilz also names the infamous Countess De Winter who is just as evil and ruthless in both accounts. In Courtilz version, De Winter is a vicious, shallow woman, who hates the French intensely. Hence just one reason for the conflict: D'Artagnan would naturally be an enemy England due to the history of war between the two countries. D'Artagnan, in the Sandras accounts as well, would suffer from foolish love and be used by De Winter. I am still trying to locate any true historical basis for De Winter. An interesting bit of trivia: The 'branding' of DeWinter was borrowed by Dumas from the Memoires of the Count de Rochefort'.
Count de Wardes - The target of Countess de Winter's affection, De Wardes was a real man, Francois Rene Crespin du Bec (1620-1688). Dumas chose Courtilz's dramatic, as chronologically slanted, portrayal of this rich, court favored nobleman. According to Courtliz's version, he would also be cousin of Rochefort.
Constance Bonancieux - Constance Bonancieux was not based on a specific historical figure. As a matter of fact, the original spelling Dumas used was actually Bonacieux - but a simple typo in a revision survived and was carried on through hundreds of thousands of copies.
Cardinal Mazarin - Once again; Dumas does incorporate some truth into the mix. Mazarin was born in Italy but was naturalized French. Cardinal Richelieu named Mazarin as his successor. There was indeed a true historical relationship between Mazarin and Anne of Austria. Although Mazarin's policies stayed true to the tradition of strengthening France - he was extremely unpopular and was one of the main targets of the Fronde.
Raoul, Son of Athos, Vicomte de Bragelonne The name and basic details of Raoul were taken from a simple historical memoir. The man existed and was indeed in love with the real life Louise de la Valliere. At least in name and basic profile alone, our 'Vicomte' existed per say. It's important to clarify, however, that we can assume that Dumas derived the majority of the characterization of Raoul from his own imagination while building on the bare essentials that were known about the historical person (as he did with even the main protagonists and antagonists of the story).
Louise de La Valliere - Louise de Valliere was the mistress of Louis XIV for many years. "La Petite," Francoise-Louise de la Baume le Blanc (1644-1710). She was his mistress for 6 years, beginning in 1661. Dumas was true to the strange beauty of Louise - it was not a surface beauty but a more intangible allure.
Colbert - This individual was indeed taken right from history - recommended by Cardinal Mazarin (who was dying at the time) to take the place of Fouquet.
Nicolas Fouquet - Fouquet lived from 1615-1680 and became Superintendent of Finances in France. The true Nicolas Fouquet amassed fabulous wealth, albeit illegally, and was quite favored amongst the nobility. But what makes him interesting an integral to our stories is the are the following:
'Guilty' of not much more than lavish taste and a poor choice of love interests, Minister Fouquet was imprisoned by Louis XIV and arrested by D'Artagnan. It must be said the Fouquet was probably not much more in extreme of wealth than some of his contemporaries, but he made the foolish mistake of not 'muting a bit' in the presence of Louis XIV - which was unfortunately taken as an insult. Secondly, Nicolas also chose to court Louise de Valliere, the King's own mistress.
Fouquet's naive ignorance (or his incredible arrogance, as some might tell it) would be his end. In this respect - book fact and fiction resemble each other.
For more interesting information Fouquet, please go to "The Iron Mask" page