Background Information.   Posted by Game Master.Group: 0
Game Master
 GM, 2 posts
Thu 10 Sep 2020
at 01:14
Background Information
All characters are French and currently in Paris, though they need not be from Paris.

You may choose to be a partisan of one of the factions at Court.  A note about Cardinal Richeleu, generally accepted to be the villain of The Three Musketeers:

Though many resented Cardinal Richelieu's apparent usurpation of power, it was generally acknowledged that he was 1) smarter than the King; 2) better than the Queen Mother, Marie DeMedici, who had influenced the King before; 3) he has the best interests of France and the King in mind even if you disagree with his opinion as to what is best or with his methods; 4) whatever else you can say about him, France has prospered under his care, though that prosperity hasn't filtered all the way down.  You can hate him and his methods, but he is still a man of God, faithful to his King and his vision of what France should be, and no one is certain that the King can do without him.  Many believe his influence just needs to be balanced, though some do hate him enough to want him dead.

This is important to stress because in many recent depictions of The Three Musketeers he is portrayed as an evil man scheming to take over the throne, and in at least one movie he is lusting after the Queen (Queen Anne of Austria).  He was quite lustful in private, so the latter may be possible, may not.  However, he is much more comfortable behind the throne, and Dumas was very clear on that point.  In case it was not known, D'Artagnon at the end of the book became lieutenant of the Musketeers, but he served the Cardinal for the rest of his career after the book.  Monsieur de Treville is Captain of the King's Musketeers.  D'Artagnon was based on a real person who was a protege of Cardinal Mazarin, himself protege of Richelieu, and Richelieu's successor.

Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu (September 9, 1585 – December 4, 1642), was a French clergyman, noble, and statesman.

Consecrated as a bishop in 1607, he later entered politics, becoming a Secretary of State in 1616. Richelieu soon rose in both the Church and the state, becoming a cardinal in 1622, and King Louis XIII's chief minister in 1624. He remained in office until his death in 1642; he was succeeded by Jules Cardinal Mazarin.

The Cardinal de Richelieu was often known by the title of the King's "Chief Minister" or "First Minister". As a result, he is sometimes considered to be the world's first Prime Minister, in the modern sense of the term. He sought to consolidate royal power and crush domestic factions. By restraining the power of the nobility, he transformed France into a strong, centralized state. His chief foreign policy objective was to check the power of the Austro-Spanish Habsburg dynasty. Although he was a cardinal, he did not hesitate to make alliances with Protestant rulers in attempting to achieve this goal. His tenure was marked by the Thirty Years' War that engulfed Europe.

As an advocate for Samuel de Champlain and of the retention of Québec, he founded the Compagnie des Cent-Associés and saw the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye return Québec to French rule under Champlain, after the settlement had been captured by the Kirkes in 1629. This in part allowed the colony to eventually develop into the heartland of Francophone culture in North America.

Richelieu was also famous for his patronage of the arts; most notably, he founded the Académie française, the learned society responsible for matters pertaining to the French language. Richelieu is also known by the sobriquet l'Éminence rouge ("the Red Eminence"), from the red shade of a cardinal's vestments and the style "eminence" as a cardinal.

Louis XIII ascended to the throne in 1610, at the age of eight and a half, upon the assassination of his father. His mother acted as Regent until Louis XIII came of age at thirteen, but she clung to power unofficially until in frustration he took the reins of government into his own hands at the age of fifteen. The assassination of Concino Concini (April 24, 1617), who had greatly influenced Marie's policymaking, and Marie's own exile to Blois, removed her from power. Louis then came into his own as ruler of France. He filled his court with loyal friends and sidelined those who remained loyal to his mother. Under Louis XIII's rule, the Bourbon Dynasty sustained itself effectively on the throne that Henry IV had recently secured; but the question of freedom of religion continued to haunt the country.

The brilliant and energetic Cardinal Richelieu played a major role in Louis XIII's administration from 1624, decisively shaping the destiny of France for the next 18 years. As a result of Richelieu's work, Louis XIII became one of the first exemplars of an absolute monarch. Under Louis XIII the Hapsburgs were humiliated, the French nobility was firmly kept in line behind their King, and the political and military privileges granted to the Huguenots by his father were retracted (while their religious freedoms were maintained). Furthermore, Louis XIII had the port of Le Havre modernized and built up a powerful navy. Unfortunately time and circumstances never permitted King and Cardinal to attend to the administrative reforms (particularly of France's tax system) which were urgently needed.
Anne was born in Valladolid, Spain and baptised Ana Maria Mauricia, as the daughter of Habsburg parents, Philip III, king of Spain, and Margaret of Austria. She bore the titles of infanta of Spain and of Portugal, archduchess of Austria, princess of Burgundy and of the Low Countries.

Anne of Austria was bethrothed at the age of ten, and on November 24, 1615, at Burgos she was married by proxy to King Louis XIII of France (1601-1643), part of the Bourbon Dynasty, a purely political match. On the same day, at Bordeaux, Elisabeth of Bourbon, sister of Louis XIII married, also by proxy, the infante Philip, brother of Anne, destined to become Philip IV of Spain. These marriages followed a tradition of cementing military and political alliances between the Catholic powers of France and Spain with royal marriages. The tradition went back to the marriage of King Philip II of Spain with the French princess, Elisabeth of Valois, the daughter of King Henry II of France, in 1559 as part of the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis. Like hostages, the two princesses were exchanged on the Isle of Pheasants in the river Bidassoa that divides France and Spain, near Hendaye.

The marriage began badly, with the fourteen-year-old couple forced to consummate the marriage, to forestall any possibility of future annulment. Although installed with all propriety in her own suite of apartments in the Louvre, Anne was ignored. Louis' mother, Marie de' Medici, continued to conduct herself as Queen of France, without any deference to her daughter-in-law, while the timid and private young king appeared profoundly uninterested. As a Spaniard, among her entourage of high-born Spanish ladies-in-waiting, Anne was out of the mainstream of French culture; she continued to live according to Spanish etiquette and failed to improve her stilted French.

This message was last edited by the GM at 01:18, Thu 10 Sept 2020.

Game Master
 GM, 3 posts
Thu 10 Sep 2020
at 01:15
Background Information
Background to the 17th Century

In order to fully understand the 17th Century, it is important to understand the events of the preceding century and the status of the various nations of Europe. The situation at the start of the 16th century was one of many nations, kingdoms, duchies, principalities and republics struggling for power or to maintain the balance of power, in conjunction with a series of religious conflicts.

France suffered a Century filled with internal religious wars between the Huguenots and Catholics, and a series of assassinations and massacres. These did not really end until Henry IV came to power in 1594 after the assassination of Henry III. Unlike his predecessors, Henry IV was originally protestant but he became a marginal Catholic after a long and bloody struggle to power. In 1598 he ended French religious conflict temporarily by signing the Edicts of Nantes, an act protecting the rights of Protestants.

Other nations in Europe faced internal struggles and wars as well. The Austrian Hapsburg Family, at this time ruling parts of Germany and Switzerland, and the traditional line of Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, and the Spanish Hapsburgs, ruling Spain, Sardinia, Sicily, Naples, Milan and the Netherlands, allied themselves and tried for the conquest of most of Europe, but were disappointed at every turn. In 1571, the United Provinces of the Netherlands rebelled from Spanish rule and left the Hapsburgs holding only the Southern, Catholic areas of the low countries.

In 1580 Spain and Portugal were united under King Phillip II, and as this new power became a danger to the delicate balance of power, England and the United Provinces allied against him in 1585. Phillip II tried to crush the English with the mighty Spanish Armada, but was defeated by storms and more maneuverable English ships. Spain was further weakened when France joined the Anglo-Dutch alliance against her, and in 1594 Phillip was forced to sign a peace treaty with England.

The Holy Roman Empire, and thus also the Austrian Hapsburg family, was weakened by endemic religious wars, and Germany became a haven for mercenaries from all over Europe. In the North, Denmark, Sweden and Russia, the latter united under a new Tsar, were on the rise. Denmark and Sweden were involved in several disputes over control of the Baltic Sea, in which Sweden won a marginal advantage. Poland was at this time a vassal stat to the Ottoman Empire. That Empire, though a waning power, was still powerful in the Mediterranean, and Turkish pirates were greatly feared.

- From the Flashing Blades core book
Game Master
 GM, 4 posts
Thu 10 Sep 2020
at 01:19
Background Information
Clothing in the 17th Century was fanciful and colorful, and, as always, France led most of the fashions to popularity.

Gentlemen, or those who wished to pass for gentlemen, generally wore a doublet or vest, breeches or stockings, boots or shoes, and a hat. Sleeves were billowy and often slashed to show an inner material, and men’s clothing was designed to exaggerate the shoulders and thighs. The collars and gloves of men’s clothing were often elaborate, and, towards the end of the Century, ribbons and lace became very popular. Men usually wore their hair to shoulder length, and a moustache and a sort of wispy beard was preferred.

Women in the 17th Century wore uncomfortable corsets and stomachers, and sometimes hoop-like devices called paniers, to enhance their figures according to the then popular mode. Skirts and dresses were worn several at a time, and were often quite long. Sometimes elaborate collars and ruffs were worn, but some fashions favored a very low neckline. Women’s hair was worn in variety of styles. Jewelry and fans were very popular among court ladies, as were ‘beauty spots’ (small patches placed on the face to cover a blemish, and given names like ‘boldness,’ ‘passion,’ and ‘coquetry; depending upon where they were placed).

Hats were popular and elaborate for both sexes, with numerous feathers and plumes. Women, and sometimes men, commonly wore small masks when they went out on windy or unpleasant days, to protect the face. These usually protected only the area around the eyes and the top of the face, but sometimes covered the lower half with a veil. Such masks were often used to disguise one’s identity in private situations.