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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Musketeers_%281987_TV_series%29

They fight with sabres all the time. No musket. So why?

migrated from scifi.stackexchange.com Jun 20 '14 at 14:09

This question came from our site for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts.

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    Wikipedia says: Shortly after [the musketeer corp's] creation, Cardinal Richelieu created a bodyguard unit for himself. So as not to offend the King with a perceived sense of self-importance, Richelieu did not name them Garde du Corps like the King's personal guards but rather Musketeers after the Kings' junior guard cavalry. ;;;; not an answer because I can't confirm, but there you go. – Mac Cooper Jun 20 '14 at 14:21
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    Because sword fighting is more exciting? Reminds me of that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when he gets fed up with the Arab swordsman and just shoots him. – Tyler Durden Jun 21 '14 at 2:55
  • @MacCooper Please read the context for your quote - the musketeers in question were the King's, not the Cardinal's. – Felix Goldberg Jun 21 '14 at 10:10
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    @FelixGoldberg, yes I know. My reading skills are far superior, apparently, to my memory: I would have put a lot of money on Dumas' Musketeers beings the Cardinal's men, not the king's. My mistake :) – Mac Cooper Jun 21 '14 at 11:03
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    Note that they were not fighting with sabers but with rapiers. Most of the movies depict them in the city and emphasize duels, but in the books they do use armor, longswords and muskets when they go into battle. They are even noted to be excellent marksmen, at La Rochelle the four of them (with their servants were reloading for them) defeated two dozen enemies in a gunfight. However, in peacetime, they don't walk in full military gear on the streets, this is why they only carry rapiers (and pistols) for self-defense. – vsz Jun 12 '15 at 18:40
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They were assigned to the Musketeer's unit. Unit names rarely designate the actual weapons - for example, there was a regiment of Fusiliers in the UK army in 1962, but they didn't use flintlocks (Fusilier is a word that means "flintlock shooter"), nor do the Grenadiers fight exclusively with grenades. And the Horse Guards... Or to choose another example, every modern cavalry unit uses transport other than horses.

Musketeers was an elite unit as mentioned by @lawson and the wikipedia page, and I believe that they are the equivalent of household guards for the king. The Musketeers were assigned to the King (Remember that the King actually had very few armed forces; most were managed by others, or by France, and separate from his command).

Also, Muskets are a pretty stupid weapon for urban fighting; although they ride all over the country, the unit is based in Paris, and designed for Paris.

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    What does it mean that forces were "managed by France" in this context? Otherwise +1 – Felix Goldberg Jun 21 '14 at 10:07
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    You caught me. The question was about fiction, so I didn't want to get diverted into my limited understanding of France. French history is not my field, but my understanding is that although the King rules by personal/divine right, the Nobility does their best to ensure that his rule is limited by denying him money, troops, etc. Consequently the French King commands only his household guards. All other troops are commanded by Nobles, Bishops, et. al. The King's power is limited because he has no troops. – Mark C. Wallace Jun 22 '14 at 21:51
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    @MarkCWallace, this is a question, not a "You're wrong" statement... I would have thought that "Fusilier" meant a type of old musket where a fuse or wick was kept smoldering and the trigger mechanism caused it to ignite the powder in the barrel. I thought a flintlock was a firearm where the piece of the firing mechanism holding an actual piece of flint struck against a piece of steel, thus causing the spark which ignited the "flash in the pan" which ignited the powder in the barrel. – Amorphous Blob Mar 15 at 17:30
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While they fight with Sabers most of the time during the novel, they are members of a military unit called the "Musketeers of the Guard", which is where the name comes from. Notably all the musketeers in the novels are loosely derived from real people of the same name who were members of this organization.

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    I'm a little confused about why this was migrated to history though. its clearly a question about a fictional story. Yes, its historical fiction and not fantasy but history seems like the wrong place for this. – Lawton Jun 20 '14 at 14:20
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    the Musketeers weren't fictional. – DVK Jun 20 '14 at 15:24
  • @DVK Sure they were. There are the real musketeers, and there are also the fictional musketeers, and those aren't the same thing. This question is clearly about the fictional ones because its a link to an anime series based on Dumas's romances. – Lawton Jun 20 '14 at 15:46
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    anime series called them Musketeers because they were called that way by Dumas. Dumas caleled them that way because they were fictional characters set in a real Misketeers unit. Just like Tom Clancy puts Ding Chavez into a real Army Rangers unit, or other writers their heroes into 82d Airborne. – DVK Jun 20 '14 at 15:48
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    @DVK, Oh, I see. you meant that the unit wasn't fictional, not that the characters weren't fictional. I got confused because I posted a link to the real military unit in my answer so I didn't think that was what you meant – Lawton Jun 20 '14 at 15:50
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Because the book shows very little warfare. In most incidents they were involved in, they conducted special missions, participated in casual scruffling or in the duels, where the muskets are useless.

Even in warfare the use of muskets of the time was very limited: they mostly were used for the first volley, and then the shooters switched to cold weapons, because the recharging the muskets took too much time.

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    Sorry, but no. The dominant battlefield unit in that time was the Tercio, with separate roles for musketeers and pikemen. Musketeers didn't switch to cold weapons after the first volley, they used a rolling formation with the first rank firing then moving to the back to reload. This was very different from the later flintlock+bayonet warfare. Also, the book depicts the titular 3+1 musketeers using muskets (for example, at La Rochelle, where they participate in actual battles and they do wear full military gear), and they are very good marksmen. However, your first paragraph is still useful. – vsz Jun 12 '15 at 18:48
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Technically not a sabre, but a rapier. The sword was technically a secondary weapon to the musketeers, and in the book it specifically mentions that they are outfitted with their sword, two pistols, and a musket. At the end of the book we see the fab four fighting at the siege of La Rochelle. There they truely show off their marksmanship as they outperform all of the other members of their units. If you haven't read it then I highly recommend it. There are many good translations of the book, and many good audio versions. There was also a Russian TV series which was VERY close to the book, with only a few minor differences.

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