iron mask, the man in the

▪ French convict
French  L'homme Au Masque De Fer,  
 political prisoner famous in French history and legend who died in the Bastille in 1703 during the reign of Louis XIV. There is no historical evidence that the mask was made of anything but black velvet (velours), and only afterward did legend convert its material into iron.

      He was first imprisoned at Pignerol (Pinerolo, in Piedmont) sometime before 1681, then at other prisons before finally being transferred to the Bastille in Paris on Sept. 18, 1698; he died there on Nov. 19, 1703. Buried the next day in the parish cemetery of Saint-Paul, he was registered there under the name of “Marchioly,” and his age was given as “about 45.” His several moves during his lifetime corresponded with the successive postings of the prison governor Benigne D'Auvergne de Saint-Mars, in whose charge he was evidently especially committed.

      The identity of the man in the mask was already a mystery before his death; and, from the 18th century on, various suggestions as to his identity were made: in 1711, an English nobleman; in 1745, Louis de Bourbon, comte de Vermandois, a son of Louis XIV and Louise de La Vallière; between 1738 and 1771, an elder brother of Louis XIV (Voltaire popularized this unlikely solution, which was later taken up by Alexandre Dumas in Dix Ans plus tard ou le Vicomte de Bragelonne [1848–50], translated into English as The Man in the Iron Mask); in 1883 Molière, imprisoned by the Jesuits in revenge for Tartuffe. Of the dozen or more hypotheses, only two have proven tenable: those for Ercole Matthioli and for Eustache Dauger.

      Matthioli, a minister of Ferdinand Charles, duke of Mantua, had been entrusted with the secret negotiation of the treaty of 1678 whereby the impoverished duke was to deliver the stronghold of Casale over to France in return for 100,000 écus; but as soon as the agreement was signed, Matthioli nullified its effect by betraying the secret to several foreign courts. Furious at having been tricked, Louis XIV had him quietly abducted and imprisoned at Pinerolo (1679). It is generally agreed, however, that Matthioli died in the Îles Sainte-Marguerite in April 1694 and that the prisoner in the mask was Eustache Dauger.

      The correspondence of Louis XIV's minister Louvois indicates that Dauger, a valet, was arrested on his orders for an unknown reason near Dunkirk in July 1669. At Pinerolo Dauger served as the valet of another prisoner, Nicolas Fouquet (Fouquet, Nicolas) (q.v.), and after Fouquet's death in 1680 he was kept in close confinement with another man who had also served Fouquet. From Pinerolo, Saint-Mars took him in 1681 to Exilles (whereas Matthioli then stayed behind), before moving to the Îles in 1687. It is possible that Louvois, an enemy of Fouquet, wanted these prisoners kept in custody, lest they should divulge secrets that Fouquet could have told them. Perhaps this consideration, rather more than his original crime, explains the absolute secrecy to which Dauger was condemned and the precaution of the mask.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Man in the Iron Mask — This article is about an aspect of French history. For other uses, see Man in the Iron Mask (disambiguation). L Homme au Masque de Fer (The Man in the Iron Mask). Anonymous print (etching and mezzotint, hand colored) from 1789. According to the… …   Wikipedia

  • The Man in the Iron Mask (1998 film) — Infobox Film name = The Man in the Iron Mask caption = The Theatrical Poster for The Man in the Iron Mask director = Randall Wallace producer = Russell Smith Randall Wallace writer = Alexandre Dumas, père (Novel) Randall Wallace starring =… …   Wikipedia

  • The Man in the Iron Mask (film) — There have been several movies which have been entitled The Man in the Iron Mask , or which have just been based on the final section of the novel The Vicomte de Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas, père, which was itself based on the 18th century… …   Wikipedia

  • The Iron Mask — Infobox Film name = The Iron Mask image size = caption = director = Allan Dwan producer = writer = Jack Cunningham Alexandre Dumas (novel) Douglas Fairbanks narrator = starring =Belle Bennett, Douglas Fairbanks, Marguerite De La Motte Dorothy… …   Wikipedia

  • Man in the Iron Mask (disambiguation) — Man in the Iron Mask can refer to: Man in the Iron Mask, a mysterious prisoner in France under the reign of Louis XIV The third part of the novel, The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, père The Man in the Iron Mask (film), films based on …   Wikipedia

  • Man in the Iron Mask — Man in the I|ron Mask, the a man who was kept as a prisoner in the Bastille, a prison in Paris, who died there in 1703. His face was always kept hidden by a ↑mask, and some people believe that he was the brother of the French king Louis XIV, but… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • The Man in the Iron Mask — Homme au masque de fer L Homme au masque de fer est l un des prisonniers les plus fameux de l histoire française. Le mystère entourant son existence, ainsi que les différents films et romans dont il a fait l objet n ont cessé d exciter les… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • The Man in the Iron Mask (1939 film) — Infobox Film name = The Man in the Iron Mask image size = caption = director = James Whale producer = Edward Small writer = George Bruce narrator = starring = Louis Hayward Joan Bennett Warren William Joseph Schildkraut music = Lucien Moraweck… …   Wikipedia

  • The Man in the Iron Mask (1977 film) — Infobox Film name = The Man in the Iron Mask image size = caption = Jenny Agutter and Richard Chamberlain as Louise and Louis XIV | writer = William Bast (screenplay) based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas, père starring = Richard Chamberlain… …   Wikipedia

  • The Man in the Iron Mask — Filmdaten Deutscher Titel: Der Mann in der eisernen Maske Originaltitel: The Man in the Iron Mask Produktionsland: USA / Großbritannien / Frankreich Erscheinungsjahr: 1998 Länge: 133 Minuten …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.