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Like other novels of Alexandre Dumas, "The Three Musketeers" is a historical romance, a narrative with historical background. The three musketeers personify three faults of the time period: melancholy, pride, and religious hypocrisy.
Set during the reign of Louis XIII, the predecessor to the great, powerful King Louis XIV who built an empire for France, the narrative of "The Three Musketeers" is set against the backdrop of the reign of Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu which was from 1624-1642. Richelieu is one of France's most influential figures in history. Appointed Chief Minister in 1624 by Louis XIII, he is sometimes considered the first Prime Minister of France. During his reign he had great power; he, in turn, restrained the power of the nobility, thus transforming France into a centralized state. He fought against the Third Estate, the lower classes, merchants, and lawyers and kept them under his control while giving more power to the clergy, the Second Estate. Richelieu established L'Academie Francaise, the literary institution of France which also set demands for the French language in order to retain its purity. He restored Quebec City to French rule under Champlain, allowing France to extend its territories.
In the novel, Richelieu is the main antagonist and his conflicts with Louis XIII for power are portrayed, if somewhat exaggerated. Perhaps Dumas wished to draw attention to the great political influence of the Catholic clergy in that period.
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