Sionainn Padraig Caimbeul
Greetings unto those whom find these words,
I am Don Sionainn Padraig Caimbeul. I live in the greatest city on earth. Paris. In the year of our lord 1625.
One might find my name odd for a Parisian. This is understandable as my speech is odd as well. For I was born on the banks of Lochawe in Argyll Scotland in the year 1575. My father, Sir Padraig Campbell served Colin Campbell, 6th Earl of Argyll, and his father before him Archibald, the 5th Earl of Argyll. My mother, Stiainín O’Brien of Bunratty Barony, County Clare, Ireland. Her father held many flax plantations.
I left Scotland to make my fortune, as my brothers all had claim to any inheritance of my father. Thus in 1595 I found myself serving as a soldier of fortune in the French Calvary at the Siege of Amiens during the “Wars of Religion”.
This is a troubled time in France. French Protestants, known as Huguenots, oppose domination by the Catholic crown. Bitter religious wars brake out. The struggle for power among the king, the nobility and the Church was constant, and assassination attempts are not uncommon.
Due to my dutiful service, I was promoted to a Sergeant of Cavalry in Henry IV’s army. I served Henry IV until his assassination in 1610. When not serving as a soldier, I worked as a tavern keeper. I have also subsidized my income working as a gendarme of the Chatelet.
Upon returning from the march on Avignon in 1622, after the surrender of the city of Montpellier, my Captain informed me that he was placing me in the Mousquetaires de la maison militaire du roi de France, or Musketeers. Of course I would go, yet I was apprehensive as I was expecting to become an Ensign (Officer) and had no desire to be regulated to the rank and file of another company. The captain assured me that because “he knew that I was a valiant man who had done great deeds” and that Louis XIII was resolved to put only Gentlemen in this Company that he would take as his Guards along with some soldiers of fortune. He, Louis XIII, “didn’t want to take on any men who had not already served and who had not already risen to the occasion.” Thus, the Company of the Carabineers ceased to exist in favor of a new Company, called the Musketeers, of an entirely different composition, in which the King would only admit noble subjects or persons of known merit. I have served with the Musketeers du Roi for 3 years now. I currently serve as sub-lieutenant of the Musketeers.
Using my military pay, I purchased a small tavern on the corner of 21 Rue de Lille. Not far from and just to the East of the Musketeer quarters at 15 Rue du Bac. Just across the river from the Palais-Royal. There I live, above the tavern, in a few of the rooms on the third floor. The others I lease to another officer of Musketeers and a Clergyman. The tavern pays for itself and puts a bit of extra coin in my pocket as well. I have a manager for the establishment. He is a bachelor and a retired gendarme. He has expressed interest in becoming my partner in the business.
Upon the granting of my Barony, I took on the responsibility of an estate in the South West in Gascony outside of Agen. It is not huge, a few dozen acres and vineyards. It does produce a lovely Armagnac and decent wine.
I break my fast in the taverns or at one of the cabarets. My diet consists of the delicious soft bread, made from yeasts and milk and grain, meat from Pork, Beef, Poultry or Fish, and wine. Water, after all, is unhealthy.
In my idle time I enjoy billiards and jeu de paume, a form of handball or tennis. As well as the theater, taverns and carrousel. Carrousel is a series of exercises and games on horseback. These events were designed to replace the tournament but contain as much of the splendor and pageantry of those bygone days.
Martially my duties consist of organizing the men for their duties, As well as ensuring to the billeting, training, supplies and pay of the men. To note, I receive 80 Sols per day in this position. The Musketeers are primarily charged with protecting the royal family when they are away from the palace. The Musketeers are considered part of the King’s House and not part of the military house. We are expected to dress appropriately as am member of the Court and behave as such as well. Therefore, at the Court, we are at the service of the King and no one else. Palace duties are regulated to the Swiss Guards composed of Helvetian veterans loyal to his father, Henri IV, established in 1616.
Louis XIII, is a warrior-king, in love with the soldiery, military reviews, parades and expeditions. The company combats on foot and on horseback, so daily training in horsemanship, marksmanship and parade practice.
The men all dress differently. We are expected to dress appropriately, as is member of the Court and behave as such, as well. Fashion is for finest cut and fabric for Doublet and Breaches, falling band collar of linen and lace, stockings, shoes or riding boots and a plumed hat. A fine and durable sword worn from belt or baldric is a must, often accompanied by a dagger or main gauche and perhaps a brace of pistols. But, all wear over their clothing –as a distinctive sign—the blue tunic, which is very short because it hangs just to the horse’s croup. It’s a sort of pelerine with broad, open sleeves upon which appear four white crosses: one on each side, one on the front, one on the back. The sight of these blue tunics with their white crosses terrorize our adversaries, for such is the fighting skill and bravery of the Musketeers!
Company of the King’s Musketeers is a real attraction for young gentlemen desiring to learn, in this elite troupe, the soldier’s trade and at the same time the duties of a member of the court. One enters the ranks of the Musketeers very young, around the age of sixteen or seventeen years. A good recommendation is desired and a Gascon or Béarnese lineage, opens doors more easily. This tradition goes back to the Carabineers Henry IV had recruited among his loyal subjects in Navarre, and it persists in the Company of the Musketeers.
I imagine my time as a soldier draws quickly to a close as younger men fill the ranks and we old, grey, warriors seek the warmth of the hearth more than a rain soaked field. Perhaps I shall sell the tavern and buy a reasonable town home for my regular visits to Paris.
So, Thus I remain in service to the Crown and Kingdom
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