In 1625 France, d'Artagnan — a poor young leman — leaves his family in Gascony and travels to Paris to join the Musketeers of the Guard. At an inn in Meung-sur-Loire, an older man derides d'Artagnan's horse. Insulted, d'Artagnan demands a duel. The older man's companions beat d'Artagnan unconscious with a cooking pot and a metal tong that breaks his sword. His letter of introduction to Monsieur de Tréville, the commander of the Musketeers, is also stolen. D'Artagnan resolves to avenge himself upon the man (who is later revealed to be the Comte de Rochefort, an agent of Cardinal Richelieu, who is there to pass orders from the Cardinal to Milady de Winter, another of his agents).
Monument to Four Musketeers in Condom, France (by Zurab Tsereteli)
In Paris, d'Artagnan visits de Tréville at the headquarters of the Musketeers but without the letter, de Tréville politely refuses his application. He does, however, write a letter of introduction to an academy for young gentlemen which may prepare him for recruitment at a later time. From de Tréville's window, d'Artagnan sees Rochefort passing in the street below and rushes out of the building to confront him but in doing so, he offends three Musketeers, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, who each demand satisfaction; D'Artagnan must fight a duel with all of them that afternoon. As d'Artagnan prepares himself for the first duel, he realizes that Athos' seconds are Porthos and Aramis, who are astonished that the young Gascon intends to duel them all. As d'Artagnan and Athos begin, Cardinal Richelieu's guards appear and try to arrest d'Artagnan and the three Musketeers for illegal dueling. Although outnumbered, the four men win the battle. D'Artagnan seriously wounds Jussac, one of the Cardinal's officers and a renowned fighter. After learning of this, King Louis XIII appoints d'Artagnan to des Essart's company of the King's Guards and gives him forty pistoles.
D'Artagnan hires a servant, Planchet; finds lodgings; and reports to Monsieur des Essart. Des Essart's company is a less prestigious regiment in which he must serve for two years before being considered for the Musketeers. Shortly after, his landlord speaks to him about his wife's kidnapping, (she is released presently) D'Artagnan falls in love at first sight with her, Constance Bonacieux. She works for Queen Anne of France, who is secretly conducting an affair with the Duke of Buckingham. The King, Louis XIII, gave the Queen a gift of diamond studs but she gives them to her lover as a keepsake. Cardinal Richelieu, who wants war between France and England, plans to expose the tryst and persuades the King to demand the Queen wear the diamonds to a soirée that the Cardinal is sponsoring. Constance tries to send her husband to London but the man is manipulated by Richelieu and does not go so D'Artagnan and his friends intercede. En route, the Cardinal's henchmen repeatedly them and only d'Artagnan and Planchet reach London. Before arriving, d'Artagnan is compelled to assault and nearly kill the Comte de Wardes, a friend of the Cardinal, cousin of Rochefort, and Milady's lover. Although Milady stole two of the diamond studs, the Duke of Buckingham provide replacements while delaying the thief's return to Paris. D'Artagnan is thus able to return a complete set of jewels to Queen Anne just in time to save her honour. In graude, she gives him a beautiful ring.