Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras and the Memoires of Monsieur D'Artagnan
A soldier turned prolific biographer of the 17th century, Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras, was the first to become the minstrel of the man we would come to know and love in books and movies. De Sandras was a soldier first, a captain of two different regiments and fully qualified to speak and write of the life of a soldier. Despite his rank, when he went unrecognized in the military he turned to his talent for journalism. Yet It was not novels for which he became infamous at first but the slanderous papers he produced again his superiors whom he felt wronged him. For some time he became an enemy of many, and his attacks included Louis XIV. Needless to say de Sandras spent time in and out of the Bastille. Yet this was not the extent of his writing. De Sandras began to publish biographies of many of the notables in the 17th century French society of his time.
Interestingly enough, one of his most recognized works by historians were Les Memoires de M. le Comte de Rochefort, a
familiar name to the readers of Dumas. The Memoires of Monsieur D'Artagnan were published from 1700-01 and were first released in Holland because the material contained what might have been considered "state secrets." It is a hefty series, three volumes in size. Most historians
confirm that the major events in D'Artagnan's life were portrayed accurately and
chronologically correct. However, the biographers portrayal of D'Artagnan's personal life are considered mostly fiction.
Did de Sandras know D'Artagnan? Historians admit that it is possible that De Sandras met and possibly conversed with D'Artagnan at some time. D'Artagnan was 20 years older than de Sandras, however, and it believed that most of what De Sandras recorded was related from fellow soldiers and compatriots.
Whatever the credence given to the impressive Memoirs, they are the essential, and relatively unknown, real beginning to the Musketeer epic. It was the first volume of these memoirs that truly sealed the legend of D'Artagnan as a timeless legacy; for it captured the attentions of one Alexandre Dumas.