The Cadets of Gascony, d'Artagnan and the Musketeers... So many adventures and legends come to mind when we think of the Gers and this famous and unusual regiment of King Louis XIII!
One for all, all for one, is the romantic motto of these young, bold, audacious, charming and brave men. The cadets are made up of the sons of noble families, who are not the first born. They were sent to serve the king.
During the 15th century this practice started and the Gascons influenced the whole kingdom with their language and traditions: cadet means "captain" or "chef" in this region of France. The cadets came from a privileged background, but not being the first born, they had little to stay at home for so they served their King.
They built a reputation and changed their fate. Gascons have a belligerent reputation making them bold on the battlefield.
Statue of the Musketeers in Condom
D'Artagnan, Charles de Batz de Castelmore, was born at the beginning of the 15th century in Lupiac in the Gers.
Depicted in swashbuckling novels and films, especially by Alexandre Dumas, this apparently fictitious character actually did exist. A former musketeer wrote the first "biography" of his life, 27 years after his death, from notes that were found. What is fiction and what is fact? We will never know… around 1630 he enrolled in the army with his two brothers. Ten years later, he joined the musketeers and went on several missions. In 1660 the musketeers were disbanded but d'Artagnan remained in the service of King Louis XIV who trusted him. In 1657, the company of musketeers was reformed. D'Artagnan was part of it as a second-lieutenant. He got married around the same time and had two sons. The marriage ended soon after (he was too unfaithful...). After many military adventures, including the arrest of Nicolas Fouquet, in 1667 he became Capitaine-Lieutenant of the Musketeers. In 1673, he was killed by a bullet in the kidneys, as he was helping young officers. Nobody knows exactly where he was buried.
Château de Castelmore, residence of d'Artagnan in Lupiac
They were called this because, in 1622, Louix XIII decided to abandon the arquebuses with a short range and replace them by musket for his infantry soldiers. The muskets are the ancestors of the rifle.
The end of the Musketeers occured gradually. After being dissolved and reformed (for economic reasons but also because their members were seen to be too unruly...) the company was finally dissolved in 1816.
To follow in the footsteps of d'Artagnan, go to Lupiac and Auch. There is a bit of d'Artagnan everywhere as his legend is all over the Gers!