Study Guide

The Man in the Iron Mask Chapter Fifty-Three: King Louis XIV

By Alexandre Dumas

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Chapter Fifty-Three: King Louis XIV

  • When D'Artagnan walks into the King's chamber, the King has his back to the door and is busy going through some papers.
  • Finally, the King calls out, asking for D'Artagnan.
  • D'Artagnan announces himself. He is clearly in an obstinate mood.
  • The King asks D'Artagnan what his orders were with respect to Belle-Isle.
  • D'Artagnan acts offended, and argue that officers of the expedition were given lots of differing orders, while D'Artagnan himself was kept in the dark.
  • The King says the orders were given those who were judged faithful.
  • D'Artagnan is deeply wounded by this. He is one of the King's most loyal servants.
  • The King then argues that his actions are accountable only to God, and that he is not the type of king who is easily led by his subordinates as past kings were led.
  • The King points out that D'Artagnan was incapable of fighting the King's enemies.
  • D'Artagnan argues that the two men in question were his best friends.
  • The King says it was a test of loyalties. D'Artagnan's friends were rebels whom the King wanted captured. D'Artagnan failed the test.
  • The King tables these considerations to explain a larger issue that historians like to call "absolute monarchy." Roughly translated, it means, "what the King says is law, period." Let's quote Louis: "I am founding a state in which there shall be but one master."
  • The King tells D'Artagnan to find another guy to serve if he wants to manipulate his master.
  • Then the King tells D'Artagnan he will forgive this one breach, adding that by now Porthos and Aramis must have been captured or killed.
  • D'Artagnan tells the King he is underestimating Porthos and Aramis.
  • The King asks D'Artagnan if there is another king of France.
  • D'Artagnan reminds the King that he came to his defense on the day Philippe was in the room. The King is properly chastised.
  • A messenger comes in and the King learns that he has lost a hundred and ten men in taking Belle-Isle, and that the rebels are nowhere to be found.
  • D'Artagnan is proud of his friends.
  • The King casually mentions he has a naval blockade around the island; the rebels will undoubtedly be captured and eventually hanged.
  • D'Artagnan promises that his friends will not be taken alive.
  • The King replies along the lines of "suit yourself." He also points out that he is the absolute master of France; D'Artagnan will experience either the royal anger or the royal friendship.
  • D'Artagnan is shocked by the young king's strength of will.
  • The King offers to refuse D'Artagnan's resignation.
  • D'Artagnan claims that being captain of the Musketeers will no longer carry the same kind of glory and responsibility that it once did. He tells the King, "it taming me you have lessened me."
  • Finally, he tells the King that he will cooperate.
  • The King thanks D'Artagnan, then tells him he will be sent into foreign fields in order to attain the marshal's baton.
  • D'Artagnan begs the King to pardon his two friends.
  • The King does so, granting permission to find his friends, give them the pardon, and then straightaway return.
  • D'Artagnan kisses the King's hand and leaves the palace.

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