Mysterious Events in History Death of the Man in the Iron Mask Part 2

About the mysterious event in history involving the death of the man in the Iron Mask.


Who had the masked prisoner been? The King would not tell, nor would his advisers, and they were the only ones who knew. M. de Chamillart, one of those advisers, was asked to tell the secret on his deathbed; he refused.

Louis XV, who also knew, said, "If he were still alive, I would give him his freedom." Later Louis said, "No one has yet told the truth and all conjectures are false."

Possible Solutions: The mistress of the previous minister said the prisoner was a son of Anne of Austria, the wife of Louis XIII, fathered illegitimately by the English Duke of Buckingham. He had been put in jail, she stated, because he looked so much like Louis XIV.

There were other rumors that maintained the prisoner had royal blood. Andrew Lang, 19th-century mystic, said the prisoner was the eldest natural son of King Charles II of England, a rogue and master hoaxer who had incurred the anger of the King of France. It was rumored, too, that the prisoner was really Louis XIV himself, kept in prison while his illegitimate half brother occupied the throne. While in prison, the rumor continued, he married and had a son, who was taken to Corsica and given the name de buona parte ("of good family") and became the grand-father of Napoleon.

Until 1869, the most credible theory was that the man in the iron mask was an envoy of the Duke of Mantua, one Mattioli, who had double-crossed the King of France. This was discredited by a letter written by Saint-Mars in 1681, which showed that Mattioli had been out of his custody for 13 years.

Evidence from state papers unearthed after the French Revolution and other sources now tells us that the man was probably a valet (confidential secretary) named Eustache Dauger, whose father had been captain of Cardinal Richelieu's musketeers and was probably known at court. Eustache was the black sheep of the family, dishonorably discharged from the army, disinherited by his mother for unstated reasons, accused of the murder of a drunken page on the staircase of the Royal Palace.

Why was he imprisoned, though, if indeed he was the man in the "iron" mask? Rumor has it that he might have been illegitimate royalty, or was used as the King's double on a secret mission, or impersonated the King. But no one knows for sure, or probably ever will.

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