Study Guide

The Three Musketeers Loyalty

By Alexandre Dumas


At last Louis XIII made Tréville the captain of his Musketeers, who were to Louis XIII in devotedness, or rather in fanaticism, what his Ordinaries had been to Henry III, and his Scotch Guard to Louis XI. (2.3)

Being one of the King’s Musketeers, then, means that you must have instant and automatic devotion to the King.

This short interval was sufficient to determine D’Artagnan on the part he was to take. It was one of those events which decide the life of a man; it was a choice between the king and the cardinal--the choice made, it must be persisted in. (5.75)

As we know, D’Artagnan chooses to side with the King. This moment cements his loyalties forever; note that he didn’t take time to think about it or make little charts of the Cardinal vs. the King on all the various issues. D’Artagnan just makes a choice and loyally sticks with it.

"Well," replied the cardinal, who could not for an instant suspect the loyalty of Tréville, and who felt that the victory was escaping him, "well, but Athos was taken in the house in the Rue des Fossoyeurs." (15.45)

Tréville’s loyalty is so well-established that his word is impossible to challenge. D’Artagnan, in using Tréville as an alibi, takes advantage of Tréville’s well-known loyalty to the King.

"Would you dare to lift your hand to your queen?" said Anne of Austria, drawing herself up to her full height, and fixing her eyes upon the chancellor with an expression almost threatening.

"I am a faithful subject of the king, madame, and all that his Majesty commands I shall do." (15.77 – 15.78)

King trumps queen.

Anne of Austria, deprived of the confidence of her husband, pursued by the hatred of the cardinal […]Anne of Austria had seen her most devoted servants fall around her, her most intimate confidants, her dearest favorites. Like those unfortunate persons endowed with a fatal gift, she brought misfortune upon everything she touched. Her friendship was a fatal sign which called down persecution. Mme. de Chevreuse and Mme. de Bernet were exiled, and Laporte did not conceal from his mistress that he expected to be arrested every instant. (16.55)

Being friends with Queen Anne is a bad strategy move in the court of King Louis XIII. Further, the Cardinal cuts her off and exacts revenge by removing those loyal to her. Loyalty, then, is a highly prized currency in this world.

"But I have sworn to kill that man!" said D’Artagnan.

"Your life is devoted from this moment, and does not belong to you. In the name of the Queen I forbid you to throw yourself into any peril which is foreign o that of your journey." 80 "And do you command nothing in your own name?"

"In my name," said Mme. Bonacieux, with great emotion, "in my name I beg you! But listen; they appear to be speaking of me." (18.78 – 18.80)

Loyalty to a greater being – whether it be royalty or the love of his life – supersedes D’Artagnan’s individual ambition and desire.

"No; she only told me she wished to send me to London to serve the interests of an illustrious personage."

"The traitor!" murmured Mme. Bonacieux. (18.117 – 18.118)

The expectation is that husband and wife be loyal to each other. By breaking this bond, Monsieur Bonacieux becomes a traitor in the eyes of Madame Bonacieux. And further smoothes the way for D’Artagnan to step in and seduce the woman…

At the same instant, four men, armed to the teeth, entered by side doors, and rushed upon Athos.

"I am taken!" shouted Athos, with all the power of his lungs. "Go on, D’Artagnan! Spur, spur!" and he fired two pistols. (20.43 – 20.44)

Athos’s loyalty to his friend is demonstrated when he risks his life so that D’Artagnan has a chance to get away,

"Now," said the baron, "look at this woman. She is young; she is beautiful; she possesses all earthly seductions. Well, she is a monster, who, at twenty-five years of age, has been guilty of as many crimes as you could read of in a year in the archives of our tribunals. Her voice prejudices her hearers in her favor; her beauty serves as a bait to her victims; her body even pays what she promises--I must do her that justice. She will try to seduce you, perhaps she will try to kill you. I have extricated you from misery, Felton; I have caused you to be named lieutenant; I once saved your life, you know on what occasion. I am for you not only a protector, but a friend; not only a benefactor, but a father. This woman has come back again into England for the purpose of conspiring against my life. I hold this serpent in my hands. Well, I call you, and say to you: Friend Felton, John, my child, guard me, and more particularly guard yourself, against this woman. Swear, by your hopes of salvation, to keep her safely for the chastisement she has merited. John Felton, I trust your word! John Felton, I put faith in your loyalty!" (50.62)

John Felton has every reason to be loyal to the Lord de Winter and not to Milady. It is terrifying when Milady overcomes all of those reasons and manages to turn Felton into her devoted servant.

Meantime, his Eminence continued his melancholy ride, murmuring between his mustaches, "These four men must positively be mine." (56.80)

The Cardinal recognizes talent and ability, and he wants it in his service, not the King’s.

Felton was a Puritan; he abandoned the hand of this woman to kiss her feet. He no longer loved her; he adored her. (57.28)

This is the moment when Felton’s loyalties irrevocably turn from the Lord de Winter to Milady.

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