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The Man in the Iron Mask

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posted on Mar, 27 2009 @ 04:01 AM
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The Story

During the reign of Louis XIV of France, there was a state prisoner who was required to wear a mask in public and when around outside visitors. No one should learn of his identity. Contrary to the popular nickname, the mask was made of black velvet, as was attested to by Lieutenant Etienne du Junca in his notebooks. A Lieutenant in the Bastille, Du Junca records the arrival of a new governor of the prison in 1698: Bénigne d'Auvergne de Saint-Mars. Du Junca writes that Saint-Mars "brought with him, in a litter, a longtime prisoner, whom he had in custody in Pignerol, and whom he kept always masked, and whose name has not been given to me, nor recorded."

Pignerol, another French prison, had been Saint-Mars' charge between the years of 1665 to 1681. So, the mysterious prisoner had been in custody at least 17 years prior to his arrival at the Bastille, and maybe as much as 33 years. In fact, Saint-Mars always took the Man in the Mask with him whenever he moved to a different prison. From 1681 to 1687 they were at the prison fortress of Exiles, then on to the island of Sainte-Marguerite, before arriving at the Bastille in 1698.


Fortress on the island of Sainte-Marguerite




Sainte-Marguerite Cell window




The Bastille



The earliest records we do have of the Man in the Mask date from 1669. According to a letter from the King's minister the Marquis de Louvois to Saint-Mars, then at Pignerol, the name of the man was Eustache Dauger.


Louvois instructed Saint-Mars to prepare a cell with multiple doors which were to prevent anyone from the outside listening in. Dauger was also to be told that if he spoke of anything other than his immediate needs he would be killed. Saint-Mars was to see Dauger only once a day in order to provide food and whatever else he needed. But, according to Louvois, the prisoner should not require much since he was "only a valet".


So what's the mystery? Louvois gave the prisoner's name and occupation. Why the mask and why all the doubt about his identity?

Several things don't add up. First of all, Louvois' letter was discovered by historians to be in two different handwritings. The text of the letter is in one script, while the name is inserted in another. This suggests that the name was added later, probably by Louvois himself. But why? There was a man, whose full name was Eustache Dauger de Cavoye, who was involved in some pretty shady stuff that may have been enough to get him thrown in prison. But his death is recorded in the late 1680s while the Man in the Mask supposedly died in 1703. Also, the Man in the Mask was buried under the name of Marchioly, not Dauger. So, what gives?

Du Junca notes in his writings how well the Man in the Mask is treated. He was allowed to attend Mass on Sundays and holidays as long as he wore the mask. Later legends said the prisoner was treated lavishly, waited on hand and foot. This is most likely false as the furnishings in his cell were provided by the prison at a time when the rich could furnish their own cells. So, he wasn't rich. It follows that he wasn't treated like royalty. However, according to du Junca, he had no complaints.

Even though his identity and crime were state secrets, the fact that he was a prisoner was not. Word spread far and wide about the masked prisoner. Soon there were many fantastic stories circulating, including that the masked was made of iron and had a hinged jaw. As we have seen, this was not true. Most of the stories were not true, and that makes it difficult to distinguish fact from fiction in this case.

So who was the Man in the Mask?

The Main Suspects

1) Antonio Ercole Matthioli

Matthioli was an Italian diplomat and politician. Apparently he was involved in some scandal and double cross involving the sale of Casale, a fortress near the border of France and Italy. Drawing the ire of at least five countries, and nearly starting a war, Louis XIV kidnapped him and sent him to Pignerol with instructions that "no person shall know what has become of this man." It is known that Matthioli eventually went mad in captivity, and may have voluntarily donned the mask. It was an Italian custom among the rich to cover their faces when going out in the sun.

Matthioli was certainly in some of the prisons at the same time as our Man in the Mask. And, our prisoner was buried under the name of Marchioly, possibly a corruption of Matthioli. However, fairly reliable records show that Matthioli died in 1694, and so couldn't have been accompanying Saint-Mars to Bastille in 1698. Also, letters to Saint-Mars in 1697 warn him to never tell anyone what his "longtime prisoner" has done. Matthioli's crimes were well known, no secrecy was needed. Therefore, it is doubtful that Matthioli is our Man in the Mask.

2) Eustache Dauger de Cavoye

Mentioned earlier, this is the name Louvois gives the prisoner. He was allegedly involved with all sorts of sordid affairs including enacting the Black Mass, homosexual activities, even the murder of a pageboy. Because of this disgrace, his mother wrote him out of her will, and he was left with a meager yearly allowance when she died. Later, Dauger was linked to a scandal known as The Affair of the Poisons. This was a cabal of the rich that was accused of being involved with Black Mass and committing assassinations with poison. The source of the poisons was allegedly Dauger, who was hard up for cash to support his playboy-like lifestyle. Some of his customers were close to the King, and so the story is he suppressed the investigations and imprisoned Dauger.

As noted above, the death of Dauger de Cavoye does not coincide with the death of Dauger, the Man in the Mask. Plus, we know that de Cavoye died in Prison Saint-Lazare. Also, there is no evidence that Dauger de Cavoye was ever held at the Bastille. It doesn't seem likely that Dauger de Cavoye is our Man in the Mask.


Documents have survived indicating that Dauger de Cavoye was held at Saint-Lazare in Paris at about the same time that Dauger, the man in the mask, was taken into custody in Pignerol, hundreds of miles away in the south.


3) A Royal Relative

Most are familiar with Alexander Dumas' classic novel The Vicomte of Bragelonne in which he writes that the prisoner is the twin brother of the King. Voltaire also espoused a similar theory, but in it the prisoner is the illegitimate half-brother of the King. Both versions are most likely fiction. As noted the prisoner was treated well but not lavishly, so it is highly doubtful that he was that close to the King. However, there is one possible theory.


Hugh Ross Williamson argues that the man in the iron mask was actually the father of Louis XIV. According to this theory, the 'miraculous' birth of Louis XIV in 1638, after Louis XIII had been estranged from his wife for over twenty years, implies that Louis XIII was not the father.

The suggestion is that the King's minister, Cardinal Richelieu, had arranged for a substitute, probably an illegitimate son or grandson of Henry IV, to become intimate with the Queen, and father an heir. At the time, the heir-apparent was Louis XIII's brother Gaston d'Orléans, who was also Richelieu's enemy. If Gaston became King, Richelieu would quite likely have lost both his job as minister and his life, so it was in his interests to thwart Gaston's ambitions. Louis XIII also hated Gaston and might thus have agreed to the scheme.

Supposedly the father then left for the Americas, but in the 1660s returned to France with the aim of extorting money for keeping his secret, and was promptly imprisoned. This theory would explain both the secrecy surrounding the prisoner, whose true identity would have destroyed the legitimacy of Louis XIV had it been revealed, and (because of the King's respect for his own father) the comfort of the terms of his imprisonment.


Other Theories

1) Moliere

Some suggest that the famous playwright's death was faked in 1673 and he was imprisoned behind the mask until his real death 40 years later.

2) Napolean's Forefather

One theory, no doubt encouraged by Napolean, was that the prisoner was indeed of royal lineage, and that he was allowed to wed in prison. Not long afterward, a child was born and taken to Corsica to be raised by his mother's family. The family's name: Bonaparte.

3) A Black Politician

Having an affair with the Queen was evidently enough to get one thrown in prison. If that person happened to be black then he would be recognizable and therefore needed to wear the mask.

4) An Amalgamation of Two Prisoners' Stories

Another plausible theory is one in which the stories and lives of two prisoners, Dauger de Cavoye and Matthioli, were mixed together to form the legend of the Man in the Iron Mask.

There are many more theories and legends about the prisoner's identity. Too many to continue listing them. If you are interested I've included some source links at the bottom of the post. One thing is for sure, the debate rages on. We will probably never know the true identity of the Man in the Iron Mask. So, what do you think? Let's hear your theories and opinions on this mysterious prisoner, and let's leave Dicapprio out of it.


Sources

www.straightdope.com...
en.wikipedia.org...
www.essortment.com...
french-history.suite101.com...

[edit on 27

[edit on 27-3-2009 by TheComte]




posted on Mar, 27 2009 @ 07:23 PM
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Affair of the Poisons.

At the time, poisoning was a popular way of inheriting wealth and status. It had even acquired the name "inheritance powder." What brought the affair to light was the trial of Marquise de Brinvilliers, who conspired with her lover to murder her father and siblings. The sensational trial came to the attention of the King who feared he too may be poisoned. Thus, he initiated an investigation to be conducted by his chief of police.

The police rounded up anyone who was suspected of selling poisons. One such person, Catherine Deshayes Monvoisin, confessed under threat of torture and implicated several important people in the French Court. Included in the confession were tales of a satanic cult where Black Mass was conducted by the notorious priest Étienne Guibourg. A nude woman would offer her body up to act as the altar in these rituals, and babies were sacrificed. Along with Guibourg, she confessed to killing hundreds of children.

One of the worshippers belonging to the cult was a mistress of the King, Marquisse de Montespan. She feared she was losing the King's favour to a younger rival, and so attended three of the "masses" and hoped to regain her status by acting as the nude altar.

We have noted the Dauger may well have been involved with this group. He was broke and needed money, opening up a trade in these poisons. He also seems to have changed his name to Auger and called himself a physician. We know he was present during at least one Black Mass, on Good Friday no less, as this was the main reason he was denied his inheritance. He was also possibly involved in murder with homosexual undertones. For this he may have been arrested and imprisoned. Monvoison was declared a witch and burned at the stake. Guibourg died in prison three years later.



Sources:

en.wikipedia.org...
en.wikipedia.org...



posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 09:18 AM
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Re:the name of the man was Eustache Dauger.

Subsequent opinion, based on handwriting inspection and analysis is suggesting that the name might be "Danger" and not "Dauger" - which would, of course, eliminate E.D. de Cavoye

Now it is true that two prisoners, "deux merles", two jailbirds, were taken with St. Mars when he was transferred to his next command of Exiles after being at Pignerol. These were Dauger and La Riviere - one of whom died at Exiles, and most opinion is that it was La Riviere, formerly a paid valet of Fouquet, who was the prisoner who died early in 1687. If it was not La Riviere then it was Dauger who died. Unlikely, but not impossible.

Next we have no clear notice of the death of Mattioli, who remained at Pignerol when St. Mars went to Exiles. We know that eventually in 1694 he and his valet caught up with St. Mars at his next posting of Ile Sainte-Marguerite in the Bay of Cannes. There is some evidence of Mattioli's death shortly after his arrival.

So of St. Mars prisoners only one of four men - Dauger, Mattioli, La Riviere, and Mattioli's valet brought from Pignerol with him, could have become the "Mask" who eventually died in the Bastille in 1703.



posted on Feb, 27 2011 @ 01:43 PM
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After you read the above notes I'd recommend a reading of the following books ---

1) The true history of the state prisoner commonly called The Iron Mask - by George Agar Ellis - 1826

2) The man in the Iron mask - by Tighe Hopkins - 1901

3) The man behind the Mask - by Rupert Furneaux - 1954

4) The man in the Iron Mask - by Harry Thompson - 1987

5) The man behind the Iron Mask - by John Noone - 1988

--- all in English, giving a good spread of theory and opinion.
edit on 27-2-2011 by danmdan because: word missing



posted on Feb, 27 2011 @ 02:08 PM
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Originally posted by danmdan

So of St. Mars prisoners only one of four men - Dauger, Mattioli, La Riviere, and Mattioli's valet brought from Pignerol with him, could have become the "Mask" who eventually died in the Bastille in 1703.




Modern research now favors he who was called Eustache Dauger (Danger, D'Anger or similar), assuming always that Count Mattioli it was who died on Ste. Marguerite island near Cannes - which makes Dauger the only prisoner of St.Mars with him his entire career from Pignerol to the Bastille.

Eustache Dauger de Cavoye is now ruled out, for now at least, since there is documentary evidence of him being held in the prison of St. Lazare in 1678 in the form of a letter from Louis XIV recorded in the register of the King's Orders held in the National Archives of France.

The problem remains about our Eustache - what had he done, or seen, or been involved with, to require being close confined plus the attention of Louis XIV and several of his ministers for more than 30 years. Something too embarrassing to ever be revealed, but not criminal enough for him to be quietly eliminated.


edit on 27-2-2011 by danmdan because: wrong word and number



posted on Mar, 12 2011 @ 11:20 AM
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In a way I would have thought Count Mattioli the better candidate for the Mask - given his treachery to Louis XIV personally. It is just like a vindictive absolute monarch to make him suffer what was almost permanent solitary confinement for over 20 years.

However it now seems he is the less likely of the two main possibilities. One on my reasons is that the correspondence between Ministers and St. Mars seems to contain an earnest desire, initially at least, to keep the Mask silent - and what Mattioli had done was always known.

In contrast what Dauger had done is most definately not known, even now, after 200 or more years of research. Surely it was something very significant for him to be arrested probably somewhere in Northern France around Dunkirk, and then taken all the way across France to Pignerol, and thereafter held for over 30 years by the same person, St. Mars.

edit on 12-3-2011 by danmdan because: Wrong number and mis-spelling



posted on Mar, 18 2013 @ 06:32 PM
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reply to post by TheComte
 


The name of the person imprisoned was Eustache PIÉMOND. He was from Augères a commune in the Creuse department in the Limousin region in central France (hence we get a disambiguation of his name d'Auger or of Augères").

I do not know what his crime was but I suspect he was the Father of Louis XIV. That is why his face could never be seen in public. Noted in the books about the "Man in the Iron Mask" he bore an uncanny resemblance to Louis XIV.

The reason he came back for money from the Americas is that he was indeed a cousin (or illegitimate son or grandson) of Henry IV of England.

from Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org...

Piedmont (Italian: Piemonte, pronounced [pjeˈmonte]; Piedmontese and Occitan: Piemont; French: Piémont) is one of the 20 regions of Italy.

I have studied this for several decades as my family name Pigmon in France was originally spelled Piémond. The diacritic indicates a separate vowel sound and thus in Piemontese it would sound like Pee - je - monte in Northern Italian and Peej - moan in French. In France the spelling changed around 1800 to Pimond and later to Pimont.

Eustache Piemond, was royal notary of the city-Dauphin St-Antoine in Dauphiné (1572-1608). He was writing about the injustices done to the Huguenots during the time. He was most likely my 8th great-grandfather as the earliest ancestor in American colonies 1695 is John Pigman (Pigmon) purchasing a plantation in Maryland and it seems his father or grandfather either Gorge or Guilliame Pigman (Pigmon) left France for Hunstanton, Norfolk, England around 1620. There are numerous entries in the French records in Pimond, Chanac-les-Mines, Correze, Limousin, France in the 1600's of Pigmon and Pimond surnames as well as the PIÉMOND spelling with the diacritic. One entry is of Leonarde Pigmon listing her father as Jean Piemond. There are other Pigmon entries in Rhone-Alpes near Chambery, France - former captial of the Savoy.

My 4th great grandfather was a U.S. revolutionary was soldier - Leonard Pigmon living in Hillsboro, North Carolina. His grandfather was the immigrant John Pigman(Pigmon) from Maryland.

Incidentally I have a distant cousin named Gaston Pigman (Pigmon).

Now is any of this proof? Nope, but it is extremely likely although I have not yet found all of the genealogical links.

Any thoughts on my theory?



posted on Mar, 18 2013 @ 06:46 PM
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reply to post by TheComte
 


Great thread. I spent a day on the island a few years ago - it is so beautiful.



posted on Mar, 19 2013 @ 11:59 AM
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Originally posted by HelenConway
reply to post by TheComte
 


Great thread. I spent a day on the island a few years ago - it is so beautiful.


I would love to go there and visit the cell where the "Mask" was!



posted on Mar, 19 2013 @ 12:05 PM
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Originally posted by wevebeenassimilated
reply to post by TheComte
 


The name of the person imprisoned was Eustache PIÉMOND. He was from Augères a commune in the Creuse department in the Limousin region in central France (hence we get a disambiguation of his name d'Auger or of Augères").

I do not know what his crime was but I suspect he was the Father of Louis XIV. That is why his face could never be seen in public. Noted in the books about the "Man in the Iron Mask" he bore an uncanny resemblance to Louis XIV.

The reason he came back for money from the Americas is that he was indeed a cousin (or illegitimate son or grandson) of Henry IV of England.

from Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org...

Piedmont (Italian: Piemonte, pronounced [pjeˈmonte]; Piedmontese and Occitan: Piemont; French: Piémont) is one of the 20 regions of Italy.

I have studied this for several decades as my family name Pigmon in France was originally spelled Piémond. The diacritic indicates a separate vowel sound and thus in Piemontese it would sound like Pee - je - monte in Northern Italian and Peej - moan in French. In France the spelling changed around 1800 to Pimond and later to Pimont.

Eustache Piemond, was royal notary of the city-Dauphin St-Antoine in Dauphiné (1572-1608). He was writing about the injustices done to the Huguenots during the time. He was most likely my 8th great-grandfather as the earliest ancestor in American colonies 1695 is John Pigman (Pigmon) purchasing a plantation in Maryland and it seems his father or grandfather either Gorge or Guilliame Pigman (Pigmon) left France for Hunstanton, Norfolk, England around 1620. There are numerous entries in the French records in Pimond, Chanac-les-Mines, Correze, Limousin, France in the 1600's of Pigmon and Pimond surnames as well as the PIÉMOND spelling with the diacritic. One entry is of Leonarde Pigmon listing her father as Jean Piemond. There are other Pigmon entries in Rhone-Alpes near Chambery, France - former captial of the Savoy.

My 4th great grandfather was a U.S. revolutionary was soldier - Leonard Pigmon living in Hillsboro, North Carolina. His grandfather was the immigrant John Pigman(Pigmon) from Maryland.

Incidentally I have a distant cousin named Gaston Pigman (Pigmon).

Now is any of this proof? Nope, but it is extremely likely although I have not yet found all of the genealogical links.

Any thoughts on my theory?


There are several possible models for solving the question "Who was the man in the iron (black velvet) mask".
The one that has always made a lot of sense is Hugh Ross Williamson's:

from wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org...


Hugh Ross Williamson[4] argues that the man in the iron mask was actually the father of Louis XIV. According to this theory, the 'miraculous' birth of Louis XIV in 1638, after Louis XIII had been estranged from his wife for over twenty years, implies that Louis XIII was not the father. The suggestion is that the King's minister, Cardinal Richelieu, had arranged for a substitute, probably an illegitimate son or grandson of Henry IV, to become intimate with the Queen, and father an heir. At the time, the heir presumptive was Louis XIII's brother Gaston d'Orléans, who was also Richelieu's enemy. If Gaston became King, Richelieu would quite likely have lost both his job as minister and his life, so it was in his interests to thwart Gaston's ambitions. Louis XIII also hated Gaston and might thus have agreed to the scheme. Supposedly the father then left for the Americas, but in the 1660s returned to France with the aim of extorting money for keeping his secret, and was promptly imprisoned. This theory would explain both the secrecy surrounding the prisoner, whose true identity would have destroyed the legitimacy of Louis XIV had it been revealed, and (because of the King's respect for his own father) the comfort of the terms of his imprisonment and the fact that he was not simply killed.


It fits in very nicely with my theory!



posted on Mar, 19 2013 @ 12:55 PM
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TheComte
I always thought the Man in the Mask was such a great mystery we probably will never know who it was but it makes for such a great story thanks for posting this thread it was a good read that i enjoyed..peace,sugarcookie1 S&F



posted on Mar, 19 2013 @ 01:02 PM
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Originally posted by sugarcookie1
TheComte
I always thought the Man in the Mask was such a great mystery we probably will never know who it was but it makes for such a great story thanks for posting this thread it was a good read that i enjoyed..peace,sugarcookie1 S&F


A couple of years ago I got caught up in this mystery and I ended up purchasing three of the books on "The Mask".
There are several theories as to who he was but I still think Eustache D'Augeres is the correct candidate. Hugh Williamson lays it all out in his book!



posted on Sep, 5 2013 @ 10:47 PM
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Thanks for the replies and kind words. I thought this thread was dead as a doornail, as it didn't garner any interest at the time I posted. I never thought to check back until now as I was checking out ATS new layout.

Danmdan, thanks for your contribution. I will definitely be looking for those books to check them out.

Wevebeenassimilated, that is some interesting information you have provided. You have quite the family history. And, yes, I believe your theory has some merit.



posted on Sep, 6 2013 @ 12:37 AM
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Great thread and presentation. Kudos for you!

Always one of my favorite stories - Hollywood style - now you've got me warmed up to go back and so a little research.

Great job.

peace



posted on Oct, 1 2013 @ 02:57 PM
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TheComte
Thanks for the replies and kind words. I thought this thread was dead as a doornail, as it didn't garner any interest at the time I posted. I never thought to check back until now as I was checking out ATS new layout.

Danmdan, thanks for your contribution. I will definitely be looking for those books to check them out.

Wevebeenassimilated, that is some interesting information you have provided. You have quite the family history. And, yes, I believe your theory has some merit.


Don't know if I can find it again but I saw a reference in England where it was our family tradition to give black velvet as a gift to someone you are endeared to. It seemed/seems it was an inside secret and the only reason I can think of is because that is the real material the mask was made of. (of course it was not really an "iron" mask).

As far as the theory of the mask, it will always be of interest to me.

Regards



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