TCD Tidbit #12 ~ Milady

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TCD Tidbit #12 ~ Milady

Unread postby Liz » Fri Jul 18, 2008 12:45 pm

Milady

Milady de Winter often referred to as simply Milady, is a character in the novel The Three Musketeers. She acts as a spy for Cardinal Richelieu and is one of the chief antagonists of the story. A woman with a checkered past, filled with the seduction and willful destruction of men who will provide her with monetary support, Milady is remorseless and unrepentant for her countless misdeeds. Late in the novel, after the reader is already presented with numerous examples of her villainy, she is revealed to be the wife of Athos, one of the musketeers in the title of the novel. As a young teenage nun, she had escaped from her convent with a priest she had seduced, and who had stolen church property to fund their new life in another part of the country, for which both of them were branded by a legal official. She was now living with the priest in Athos' village, pretending to be his sister. Athos, a nobleman, had fallen in love with her despite her obscure origins, and married her. Out in the forest one day, he discovers a brand on her shoulder. Identifying her as a thief who had only married him for his money and feeling dishonoured, Athos (then, the Comte de La Fère) hangs her from a tree on the spot and abandons her, but she survives. After being expelled by Athos, she marries the English Lord de Wynter
(Don’t ask me why she is called Milady de Winter, when she married de Wynter. I’ve seen it both ways and don’t really get it.) After his death she begins working for Cardinal Richelieu as his spy, assassin, and messenger. She steals the jewels that Anne of Austria, wife of King Louis XIII, entrusted to her devoted admirer the English Duke of Buckingham, but the intended scandal is averted.

Milady gives birth to a son who is featured in the sequel to The Three Musketeers (Twenty Years After). More on that tomorrow.

Was Milady Based on a Real Person?

Some think so. Ryan Necessary at http://www.clfc.org/articles/musketeers.htm thinks so. He states that the Countess of Carlisle was also an agent for Cardinal Richelieu. He along with others speculate that Milady was based on Lucy Hay, the Countess of Carlisle. Just on the outside chance that it is true, I’ve included a bio on the woman below.

Lucy Hay, Countess of Carlisle

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Lucy Hay, Countess of Carlisle (1599 – November 5, 1660), was an English socialite known for her beauty and wit. She was involved in many political intrigues during the English Civil War.

Lucy was born Lucy Percy, the second daughter of Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland, the famous "Wizard Earl." She became the second wife of James Hay, 1st Earl of Carlisle. Her charms were celebrated in verse by contemporary poets, including Thomas Carew, William Cartwright, Robert Herrick and John Suckling, and by Sir Toby Matthew in prose. She was a conspicuous figure at the court of King Charles I. A contemporary scandal made her the mistress successively of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, and of John Pym, his parliamentary opponent. Strafford valued her highly, but after his death, possibly in consequence of a revulsion of feeling at his abandonment by the court, she devoted herself to Pym and to the interests of the parliamentary leaders, to whom she communicated the king's most secret plans and counsels.

Her greatest achievement was the timely disclosure to Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex, of the king's intended arrest of the five members of Parliament, which enabled Essex to escape. However, she appears to have served both parties simultaneously, betraying communications on both sides, and doing considerable mischief by inflaming political animosities.

In 1647, she attached herself to the interests of the moderate Presbyterian party, which assembled at her house, and in the Second Civil War showed great zeal and activity in the royal cause, pawning her pearl necklace for £1500 to raise money for Lord Holland's troops, establishing communications with Prince Charles during his blockade of the Thames, and making herself the intermediary between the scattered bands of royalists and the queen. As a result, her arrest was ordered on March 21, 1649, and she was imprisoned in the Tower of London, where she maintained a correspondence in code with the king through her brother, Lord Percy, until Charles went to Scotland. According to a royalist newsletter, while in the Tower she was threatened with torture on the rack to gain information. She was released on bail on September 25, 1650, but appears never to have regained her former influence in the royalist counsels, and died soon after the Restoration.


Milady in Film

Actresses who have played Milady on screen include:

Barbara La Marr, in The Three Musketeers (1921)

Lana Turner, in The Three Musketeers (1948)

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Lana Turner & (I think) Vincent Price (Richelieu)

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Milady & D'artagnan

Faye Dunaway, in The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers (1974)

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Margarita Terekhova in D'Artagnan and Three Musketeers (1978 miniseries)

Rebecca De Mornay, in The Three Musketeers (1993)

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Pia Douwes in 3 Musketiers (2003 musical)

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Milady & Richelieu

Arielle Dombasle in Milady (2004 TV)

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In the cartoon version, Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds, Milady is a female cat, while most of the characters are dogs.

In the movie The Return of the Musketeers, Kim Cattrall plays Milady's daughter Justine de Winter as a female version of Mordaunt.

Sources:

www.clfc.org
Wikipedia
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Unread postby fansmom » Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:19 pm

Love the photos, Liz! They show that our ideas of historical costumes and makeup say more about what was being worn when the movie was made than what people actually wore in the past.

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Unread postby Liz » Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:41 pm

I noticed that too, Fansmom. That brings to mind the quote in the book on page 94:

"Goddamn Hollywood."
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Unread postby gemini » Fri Jul 18, 2008 6:02 pm

I like the second to last photo of Richelieu and Milady that shows the a fleur-de-lis burned on her shoulder. Dumas's heroine Milady reminds me of his roudy boisterous lover Adah Menken. The character Milady seems to have come from a rough life and can take care of herself. I was reading on another blog about how some consider Milady evil (because she kills D'Artangans lover) and some think she is just the same as D'Artagnan because he tricked and slept with her while he was supposed to be in love with another. Sounds like a debate of the old double standard even back then. I think D'Artangnan and her are a matched pair.
I like that she may be based on real character as the muskateers were. Since they were, I don't see why he would not do the same with her.
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Unread postby Endora » Sat Jul 19, 2008 4:17 am

That Essex family were in the thick of things back then...that one's father (grandfather) was Shakespeare's sponsor, and some would say lover, maybe the one on the dark lady sonnet.

Interesting tidbit. I haven't read the Musketeers and this info is very helpful. Thanks for the research!
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Unread postby Parlez » Sat Jul 19, 2008 9:48 am

It's interesting how Hollywood has chosen to depict this diabolical character in contemporary times. With the exception of Rebecca de Mornay, it's all about the costumes and hair. (I do love Faye Dunaway's saucy cap!) Yet none of them comes close to the 'real deal', Lucy herself, whose portrait shows just how much the image of feminine allure has changed since the 1600's.
Thanks for the intriguing report, Liz! :cool:
Last edited by Parlez on Sat Jul 19, 2008 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby Liz » Sat Jul 19, 2008 1:54 pm

gemini wrote:I like the second to last photo of Richelieu and Milady that shows the a fleur-de-lis burned on her shoulder. Dumas's heroine Milady reminds me of his roudy boisterous lover Adah Menken. The character Milady seems to have come from a rough life and can take care of herself. I was reading on another blog about how some consider Milady evil (because she kills D'Artangans lover) and some think she is just the same as D'Artagnan because he tricked and slept with her while he was supposed to be in love with another. Sounds like a debate of the old double standard even back then. I think D'Artangnan and her are a matched pair.
I like that she may be based on real character as the muskateers were. Since they were, I don't see why he would not do the same with her.

I would agree. I think it is very possible. There were lots of shots of Pia Douwes from which to choose. But I chose that one because we get to see the fleur-de-lis.

Endora wrote:That Essex family were in the thick of things back then...that one's father (grandfather) was Shakespeare's sponsor, and some would say lover, maybe the one on the dark lady sonnet.

:interesting:
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Unread postby suec » Wed Jul 23, 2008 4:16 pm

I read this book when I was a kid, and remembered Milady with some fondness. I think I found the men's nervousness of her rather funny, and although she is guilty of several murders, I couldn't quite get my head round most of them being so very much worse than one of the "good guys", Athos, hanging her off a tree, which I found very shocking at the time. And I remember the double standard that gemini alludes to. But having dipped into the book again, although I still enjoy her as an out-and-out villainness, an archetype, the sticking point for me is her murder of Constance out of malice and a desire for revenge! Now that is beyond the pale! :lol:
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