no edit summary
==The historical background==
The Man in the Iron Mask was confined in the French penal system between 1669 and 1703, the year in which he died. At this time, France was ruled by Louis XIV (1638-1715), who is often known as the ‘Sun King’. He was monarch of France from a very young age. In his childhood, his realm was engulfed by civil wars, known as the Frondes, and they shaped the philosophy of Louis XIV. When he became king, Louis set out to become the absolute ruler of the state and he brooked no opposition. He curtailed the power of the nobility and the cities. Louis even quarrelled with the Pope and limited the influence of the Church in France. The king made his kingdom the greatest nation in Europe, and
he initiated a golden age in the arts and culture. He was the monarch who built the great palace at Versailles, near Paris. However. Louis was an autocrat and he dominated the state and his word was the law. Anyone who offended his Royal Majesty or disobeyed his wishes could face banishment or imprisonment. There is evidence that suggests that Louis XIV was responsible for the imprisonment of the Man in the Iron Mask. The detention of a man without trial or any public record is typical of the authoritarianism of the Sun King.
[[File: Man in the iron mask 2.jpg|200px|thumb|left|King Louis XIV, the man who confined the mysterious prisoner]]
==The Man in the Iron Mask==
The latest research based on material released by the National Archives in Paris in 2015, has added much to our knowledge of the mysterious individual. All we know about the enigmatic prisoner is from the correspondence of the jail governor Bénigne d'Auvergne de Saint-Mars and an inventory of the goods of the inmate. In 1669 he was governor of the prison of Pignerol which is today near Turn, Italy but in the seventeenth century was part of the Kingdom of France. A Royal minister gave the governor a set of strict instructions with regard as to how the prisoner be treated <ref> Thompson, Harry. The Man in the Iron Mask: A historical detective investigation (London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1987), p 189</ref>. These instructions informed the jailer that his new prisoner was not a person of high rank and was to be kept in solitary confinement and forbidden to converse with another prisoner. He was to be kept locked behind a number of doors so that he could not communicate with anyone else in the prison. The jailer himself was under strict instruction not to speak with him. It was made clear that he was a prisoner of state and this meant that he had no legal rights and was completely under the jurisdiction of the monarch <ref>.Thompson, p 189</ref>. The name of the prisoner on the document was Eustache Dauger and it appears that he was arrested in Calais or Dunkirk, both ports in the North of France, and this may indicate that the prisoner had been trying to flee to England. In August 1669, the individual was sent all the way across France to the prison-fortress at Pignerol. This prison was one of the most notorious in France because it held so many inmates that were considered to be politically sensitive. Pignerol held only a few dozen inmates including a former Finance Minister and a noble who became engaged to the King’s cousin without his consent. The prisoner known as Dauger was despite the orders of the Minister in Paris, able to mingle with other prisoners. However, it appears that he was kept under strict surveillance at all times. He was the valet to an imprisoned Minister for a time and was a model prisoner and it appears that he was a very religious man. Saint-Mars was later appointed the governor of Sainte-Marguerite prison on one of the Lérins Islands, off the Rivera coast. He took the prisoner known as Dauger with him and one inmate who had apparently communicated with him. During the journey from Pingerol to the island prison stores circulated about an inmate who was masked <ref> Williamson, H.R., Who was the Man in the Iron Mask?: And Other Historical Mysteries (London, Penguin, 2002), p 19</ref>. It appears that Dauger was masked at all times and that he wore a velvet mask. It should be noted that Voltaire claimed that the inmate did not wear a velvet mask but one that was made of iron and which prevented him from speaking and this claim was later popularized by Alexander Dumas. The convict was detained on the island until 1689 when his jailer was transferred to the notorious Bastille in Paris. He was kept in a tower and in solitary confinement and his food was delivered to him by the Deputy Governor of the prison <ref>Williamson, p 36</ref>. His cell was spartan and he had little food and he must have endured a wretched existence. The inmate known as Dauger died apparently alone in November 1703. He had spent 34 years in prison. Interestingly he was buried under the name of Marchioly, and not Dauger. His former cell was stripped, and its walls whitewashed all his belongings were burned and any metal items that he touched or owned melted down. By his death it seems that many people had become aware of the Man in the Iron Mask and his life and alleged crimes, became a subject of gossip and inspired many conspiracy theories <ref>, Williamson, p. 134</ref>.