I haven't actually watched the BBC's new series, The Musketeers, but seeing the trailers brought to mind something that has always puzzled me since first reading the book and watching previous films based on Dumas' characters. We are used to seeing Athos, Porthos and Aramis (and, of course D'Artagnan) swashbuckling away with brilliant displays of swordsmanship. Which leads me to the question that has always puzzled me: Why are they called 'Musketeers'? I mean, muskets are not exactly their weapon of choice!
I haven't been watching this series either, but it's a good question that you pose! According to the Guardian's website on their 'Notes & Queries' page, Derek Roberts of Mitcham, Surrey, sent the following explanation:
"The French word mousquetaire originally referred to an infantryman with a musket. Over time, the word changed its meaning, lost the connection with the weapon, and referred to a much grander person. A mousquetaire was a gentleman in one of the two companies of the royal household cavalry in pre-revolutionary France. The companies were distinguished by the colour of the horses they rode - either grey or black. Thus there were mousquetaires gris and mousquetaires noirs. Cavalry have no use for clumsy muskets, which are difficult to reload at the best of times. The problem we have is an over-literal translation of the French which loses the context."