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The Man in the Iron Mask

The Man in the Iron Mask

The Man in the Iron Mask

The Man in the Iron Mask (died November 1703) was a prisoner who was held in a number of jails, including the Bastille and the Chateau d’If, during the reign of Louis XIV of France. The identity of this man has been thoroughly discussed, mainly because no one ever saw his face which was hidden by a mask of black velvet cloth. Later retellings of the story have claimed that it was an iron mask. The first surviving records of the masked prisoner are from 1669, when Louis XIV’s minister sent a prisoner to the care of the governor of the prison of Pignerol. According to Louvois’ letter, the man’s name 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. He spent his remaining years in jail, with his true identity being concealed. Upon his death, all of his belongings were destroyed. Theories about his identity made at the time included that he was a Marshal of France; or Richard Cromwell, son of Oliver Cromwell; or Francois de Vendôme, Duc de Beaufort. Later, many people such as Voltaire put forward other theories about the man in the mask.