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Rostand's play is based on a real life poet of the seventeenth century, Savinien de Cyrano-Bergerac. A contemporary of Corneille and Molière, the real Cyrano was not a Gascon, but was born and bred in Paris. Because of his education, Cyrano developed a
spirit of fierce independence; therefore, he easily accepted the challenge of his friend, Le Bret, to join the Gardes Nobles. Rostand's play about Cyrano begins after he has joined the Gardes.
Rostand's play is largely based on Le Bret's biography of Cyrano- Bergerac. Most of the characters and events in the play come directly from the biography. Carbon de Castel-Jaloux was actually the Captain of the regiment under whom Cyrano fought at Mouzon in 1639 and at Arras in 1640. Wounded in these battles, Cyrano decided to continue his studies under the philosopher Gassendi. Roxane is also the historical Madeleine Robineau, a friend of Mademoiselle de Scudéry a well-known "blue-stocking" satirized in Molière's Les Precieuses Ridicules. Roxane was actually a widow, previously married to Christopher de Champagne, Baron de Neuvillette. After her husband's death, she actually spent her widowhood in a convent. Cyrano's death, both in the play and in real life, was caused when a block of wood was dropped on his head, a blow from which he never recovered fully.