The Oddment Emporium

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The Man in the Iron Mask
The Man in the Iron Mask is a name given to a prisoner arrested as Eustache Dauger in 1669. He was held in the custody of the same jailer for 34 years. His identity has been thoroughly discussed because no one ever saw his face, which was hidden by a mask of either black velvet cloth or iron. What facts are known about this prisoner are based mainly on correspondence between his jailer and his superiors in Paris.
The first surviving records of the masked prisoner are from July 1669, when Louis XIV’s minister sent a letter to the governor of the prison of Pignerol informing him that a prisoner named Eustache Dauger was due to arrive in the next month or so. Historians have noted that the name Eustache Dauger was written in a different handwriting than the rest of the text, suggesting that while a clerk wrote the letter under dictation, a third party, very likely the minister himself, added the name afterwards.
The governor was instructed to prepare a cell with multiple doors, one closing upon the other, to prevent anyone from the outside listening in. The governor himself was to see Dauger only once a day in order to provide food and whatever else he needed. Dauger was also to be told that if he spoke of anything other than his immediate needs he would be killed. According to many versions of this legend, the prisoner wore the mask at all times. 
The prison at Pignerol was used for men who were considered an embarrassment to the state and usually held only a handful of prisoners at a time, some of which were important and wealthy and granted servants. One prisoner, Nicolas Fouquet’s valet was often ill and so permission was given for Dauger to serve Fouquet on the condition that he never met with anyone else. The fact that Dauger served as a valet is an important one for whilst Fouquet was never expected to be released, other prisoners were, and might have spread word of Dauger’s existence. 
In time the governor was offered positions at other prisons and each time he moved Dauger went with him until he died in 1703 and was buried under the name of Marchioly. Though she may merely have been repeating rumours In 1711, King Louis’s sister-in-law stated in a letter that the prisoner had “two musketeers at his side to kill him if he removed his mask”. 
In 1771, Voltaire claimed that the prisoner was the older, illegitimate brother of Louis XIV but other theories include that he was a Marshal of France; Richard Cromwell; or François, Duke of Beaufort; an illegitimate son of Charles II, amongst others.

The Man in the Iron Mask

The Man in the Iron Mask is a name given to a prisoner arrested as Eustache Dauger in 1669. He was held in the custody of the same jailer for 34 years. His identity has been thoroughly discussed because no one ever saw his face, which was hidden by a mask of either black velvet cloth or iron. What facts are known about this prisoner are based mainly on correspondence between his jailer and his superiors in Paris.

The first surviving records of the masked prisoner are from July 1669, when Louis XIV’s minister sent a letter to the governor of the prison of Pignerol informing him that a prisoner named Eustache Dauger was due to arrive in the next month or so. Historians have noted that the name Eustache Dauger was written in a different handwriting than the rest of the text, suggesting that while a clerk wrote the letter under dictation, a third party, very likely the minister himself, added the name afterwards.

The governor was instructed to prepare a cell with multiple doors, one closing upon the other, to prevent anyone from the outside listening in. The governor himself was to see Dauger only once a day in order to provide food and whatever else he needed. Dauger was also to be told that if he spoke of anything other than his immediate needs he would be killed. According to many versions of this legend, the prisoner wore the mask at all times. 

The prison at Pignerol was used for men who were considered an embarrassment to the state and usually held only a handful of prisoners at a time, some of which were important and wealthy and granted servants. One prisoner, Nicolas Fouquet’s valet was often ill and so permission was given for Dauger to serve Fouquet on the condition that he never met with anyone else. The fact that Dauger served as a valet is an important one for whilst Fouquet was never expected to be released, other prisoners were, and might have spread word of Dauger’s existence. 

In time the governor was offered positions at other prisons and each time he moved Dauger went with him until he died in 1703 and was buried under the name of Marchioly. Though she may merely have been repeating rumours In 1711, King Louis’s sister-in-law stated in a letter that the prisoner had “two musketeers at his side to kill him if he removed his mask”. 

In 1771, Voltaire claimed that the prisoner was the older, illegitimate brother of Louis XIV but other theories include that he was a Marshal of France; Richard Cromwell; or François, Duke of Beaufort; an illegitimate son of Charles II, amongst others.

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