List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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the writings of both the Alexandre Dumases for some time now,
and since we get a few questions about the order in which the
books should be read, and in which they were published, these
following comments should hopefully help most of our readers.

***

The Vicomte de Bragelonne is the final volume of D'Artagnan Romances:
it is usually split into three or four parts, and the final portion
is entitled The Man in the Iron Mask.  The Man in the Iron Mask we're
familiar with today is the last volume of the four-volume edition.
[Not all the editions split them in the same manner, hence some of
the confusion. . .but wait. . .there's yet more reason for confusion.]

We intend to do ALL of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, split into four etexts
entitled The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Ten Years Later, Louise de la
Valliere, and The Man in the Iron Mask; you WILL be getting The Man in
the Iron Mask.

One thing that may be causing confusion is that the etext we have now,
entitled Ten Years Later, says it's the sequel to The Three Musketeers.
While this is technically true, there's another book, Twenty Years After,
that comes between.  The confusion is generated by the two facts that we
published Ten Years Later BEFORE we published Twenty Years After, and
that many people see those titles as meaning Ten and Twenty Years "After"
the original story. . .however, this is why the different words "After"
and "Later". . .the Ten Years "After" is ten years after the Twenty Years
later. . .as per history.  Also, the third book of the D'Artagnan
Romances, while entitled The Vicomte de Bragelonne, has the subtitle Ten
Years Later.  These two titles are also given to different volumes: The
Vicomte de Bragelonne can refer to the whole book, or the first volume of
the three or four-volume editions.  Ten Years Later can, similarly, refer
to the whole book, or the second volume of the four-volume edition.  To
add to the confusion, in the case of our etexts, it refers to the first
104 chapters of the whole book, covering material in the first and second
etexts in the new series.  Here is a guide to the series which may prove
helpful:

The Three Musketeers: Etext 1257 - First book of the D'Artagnan Romances.
Covers the years 1625-1628.

Twenty Years After: Etext 1259 - Second book of the D'Artagnan Romances.
Covers the years 1648-1649.
[Third in the order that we published, but second in time sequence!!!]

Ten Years Later: Etext 1258 - First 104 chapters of the third book of the
D'Artagnan Romances.
Covers the years 1660-1661.

The Vicomte de Bragelonne: Etext 2609 (our new etext) - First 75 chapters
of the third book of the D'Artagnan Romances.
Covers the year 1660.

Ten Years Later: forthcoming (our next etext) - Chapters 76-140 of that
third book of the D'Artagnan Romances.
Covers the years 1660-1661.
[In this particular editing of it]

Louise de la Valliere: forthcoming (following) - Chapters 141-208 of the
third book of the D'Artagnan Romances.
Covers the year 1661.

The Man in the Iron Mask: forthcoming (completing) - Chapters 209-269 of
the third book of the D'Artagnan Romances.
Covers the years 1661-1673.

If we've calculated correctly, that fourth text SHOULD correspond to the
modern editions of The Man in the Iron Mask, which is still widely
circulated, and comprises about the last 1/4 of The Vicomte de Bragelonne.

Here is a list of the other Dumas Etexts we have published so far:

Sep 1999 La Tulipe Noire, by Alexandre Dumas[Pere#6/French][tlpnrxxx.xxx]1910
This is an abridged edition in French, also see our full length English Etext
Jul 1997 The Black Tulip, by Alexandre Dumas[Pere][Dumas#1][tbtlpxxx.xxx] 965
Jan 1998 The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas[Pere][crstoxxx.xxx]1184


Many thanks to Dr. David Coward, whose editions of the D'Artagnan
Romances have proved an invaluable source of information.

Introduction:
In the months of March-July in 1844, in the magazine Le Siecle, the first
portion of a story appeared, penned by the celebrated playwright
Alexandre Dumas.  It was based, he claimed, on some manuscripts he had
found a year earlier in the Bibliotheque Nationale while researching a
history he planned to write on Louis XIV.  They chronicled the adventures
of a young man named D'Artagnan who, upon entering Paris, became almost
immediately embroiled in court intrigues, international politics, and
ill-fated affairs between royal lovers.  Over the next six years, readers
would enjoy the adventures of this youth and his three famous friends,
Porthos, Athos, and Aramis, as their exploits unraveled behind the scenes
of some of the most momentous events in French and even English history.

Eventually these serialized adventures were published in novel form, and
became the three D'Artagnan Romances known today.  Here is a brief
summary of the first two novels:

The Three Musketeers (serialized March  July, 1844): The year is 1625.
The young D'Artagnan arrives in Paris at the tender age of 18, and almost
immediately offends three musketeers, Porthos, Aramis, and Athos.
Instead of dueling, the four are attacked by five of the Cardinal's
guards, and the courage of the youth is made apparent during the battle.
The four become fast friends, and, when asked by D'Artagnan's landlord to
find his missing wife, embark upon an adventure that takes them across
both France and England in order to thwart the plans of the Cardinal
Richelieu.  Along the way, they encounter a beautiful young spy, named
simply Milady, who will stop at nothing to disgrace Queen Anne of Austria
before her husband, Louis XIII, and take her revenge upon the four
friends.

Twenty Years After (serialized January  August, 1845): The year is now
1648, twenty years since the close of the last story.  Louis XIII has
died, as has Cardinal Richelieu, and while the crown of France may sit
upon the head of Anne of Austria as Regent for the young Louis XIV, the
real power resides with the Cardinal Mazarin, her secret husband.
D'Artagnan is now a lieutenant of musketeers, and his three friends have
retired to private life.  Athos turned out to be a nobleman, the Comte de
la Fere, and has retired to his home with his son, Raoul de Bragelonne.
Aramis, whose real name is D'Herblay, has followed his intention of
shedding the musketeer's cassock for the priest's robes, and Porthos has
married a wealthy woman, who left him her fortune upon her death.  But
trouble is stirring in both France and England.  Cromwell menaces the
institution of royalty itself while marching against Charles I, and at
home the Fronde is threatening to tear France apart.  D'Artagnan brings
his friends out of retirement to save the threatened English monarch, but
Mordaunt, the son of Milady, who seeks to avenge his mother's death at
the musketeers' hands, thwarts their valiant efforts.  Undaunted, our
heroes return to France just in time to help save the young Louis XIV,
quiet the Fronde, and tweak the nose of Cardinal Mazarin.

The third novel, The Vicomte de Bragelonne (serialized October, 1847 
January, 1850), has enjoyed a strange history in its English
translation.  It has been split into three, four, or five volumes at
various points in its history.  The five-volume edition generally does
not give titles to the smaller portions, but the others do.  In the three-
volume edition, the novels are entitled The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Louise
de la Valliere, and The Man in the Iron Mask.  For the purposes of this
etext, I have chosen to split the novel as the four-volume edition does,
with these titles: The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Ten Years Later, Louise de
la Valliere, and The Man in the Iron Mask.  In this, the first of the
four etexts, the situation is thus:

It is now 1660, and although promised the captaincy of the musketeers at
the close of Twenty Years After, D'Artagnan is still trailing his sword
in the Louvre as a lowly lieutenant.  Louis XIV is well past the age
where he should rule, but the ailing Cardinal Mazarin refuses to
relinquish the reins of power.  Meanwhile, Charles II, a king without a
country, travels Europe seeking aid from his fellow monarchs.  Athos
still resides at La Fere while his son, Raoul de Bragelonne, has entered
into the service in the household of M. le Prince.  As for Raoul, he has
his eyes on an entirely different object than his father  his childhood
companion, Louise de la Valliere, with whom he is hopelessly in love.
Porthos, now a baron, is off on some mysterious mission along with
Aramis, who is now the Bishop of Vannes.

Now begins the first chapter of the last of the D'Artagnan Romances, The
Vicomte de Bragelonne.  Enjoy!

John Bursey
Mordaunt@aol.com
May, 2000


The Vicomte de Bragelonne
by Alexandre Dumas

Chapter I:
The Letter.

Towards the middle of the month of May, in the year 1660, at nine o'clock
in the morning, when the sun, already high in the heavens, was fast
absorbing the dew from the ramparts of the castle of Blois, a little
cavalcade, composed of three men and two pages, re-entered the city by
the bridge, without producing any other effect upon the passengers of the
quay beyond a first movement of the hand to the head, as a salute, and a
second movement of the tongue to express, in the purest French then
spoken in France: "There is Monsieur returning from hunting."  And that
was all.

Whilst, however, the horses were climbing the steep acclivity which leads
from the river to the castle, several shop-boys approached the last
horse, from whose saddle-bow a number of birds were suspended by the beak.

On seeing this, the inquisitive youths manifested with rustic freedom
their contempt for such paltry sport, and, after a dissertation among
themselves upon the disadvantages of hawking, they returned to their
occupations; one only of the curious party, a stout, stubby, cheerful
lad, having demanded how it was that Monsieur, who, from his great
revenues, had it in his power to amuse himself so much better, could be
satisfied with such mean diversions.

"Do you not know," one of the standers-by replied, "that Monsieur's

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