“All for one and one for all” is the famous cry of the swordsmen called the Musketeers. They were established under the King Louis XVIII to protect the crown and his wife Queen Anne. They were masters of sword fighting and lived by a strict code of honor and ethics.
I like making friends with the author and his characters before I read an unfamiliar book, especially if it’s a classic. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of dusty old pages held together with a couple of pieces of cardboard. I need to find ways to bring it to life. Sometimes I look at the author’s culture and sometimes it’s the culture of the setting that I want to know more about. For the Three Musketeers I’m interested in the knowing more about the setting, the 17th Century. But first let me share a few tidbits about the author’s culture just in case that is what you are more interested in reading.
Alexandre Dumas lived between the years of 1802 and 1870. He published The Three Musketeers in 1844. During his lifetime the Monroe Doctrine from the U.S. warns European nations not to interfere in Western Hemisphere, the first passenger carrying railroad was built tin England, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was formed in U.S. by Joseph Smith, Victoria becomes the queen of Great Brittain, Dicken’s publishes the Pickwick Papers, Edgar Allen Poe publishes the Raven, Melville publishes Moby Dick, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, and Louis Pastuer experiments led to the germ theory of infection. When I read about all these authors that lived in the same period of history I begin to imagine the conversations they may have had by writing letters to each other or around the dinner table.
Now let’s look at the culture that Dumas chose to set his novel, The Three Musketeers.
The first thing I want to know is what did they eat? I believe that the center of every culture rests at the table. What kind of food did they eat? Were they hungry most of the time or so rich that food went to waist. What did they like? How did they prepare food? At the very end of this post you will find a fantastic link for Middles Ages Recipes. But first let’s take a look at the kinds of things that were happening in the world of the The Three Musketeers.
After I understand the food culture I don’t do an exhaustive study on the history of the time. I just look for sound bites of information that intrigues me. I don’t want a history lesson. My main purpose is to create a few hooks in my brain so that when I’m reading along my engine doesn’t get bogged down causing me to lose control of my imagination.
1603: Shakespeare produces Hamlet.
1685: James II succeeds Charles II in England and calls for freedom of conscience in 1687.
Protestants fear restoration of Catholicism and demand “Glorious Revolution.”
1689; Peter the Great becomes Czar of Russia and attempts to westernize the nation and build Russia as a military power.
FOOD in the 1600s