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==An Italian diplomat==
In the 19th century, many writers
focused on another candidate, as to who was the Man in the Iron Mask. This was Count Ercole Antonio Mattioli, a leading diplomat. He was paid, a small fortune by the French to help them to secure a key fortress in Italy by diplomatic means. Mattioli was able to persuade the Duke of Mantua to give up the fortress to the French in return for a generous payment. The Italian Count was duplicitous, and he informed the arch-enemies of Louis XIV, the Spanish of the deal and they tried to stop the French from occupying the key stronghold <ref>Williamson, p 156</ref>. When the French king heard of this he grew outraged and he is alleged to have had the Count imprisoned and placed in a mask. Yet the evidence for this is scant and thought to be unreliable. [[File: Man in the Iron Mask 3.jpg|200px|thumb|left| The Man in the Iron Mask’s first prison]]
==The real Eustache Dauger==
Seventeenth century France was a pleasure-loving society especially. The elite in Paris was notorious for their scandalous lifestyles and their extravagance, something that not even Louis XIV could halt. One notorious figure at this time was Eustache Dauger de Cavoye. This is by coincidence almost the same name as the Man in the Iron Mask, according to official documents. The infamous Dauger de Cavoye was involved in several sex scandals and even a murder <ref>Thompson, p 188</ref>. However, it may have been his role in the Affair of the Poisons that may have landed him in jail. The Affair of the Poisons was a scandal that involved aristocrats murdering rivals with poison. These individuals were also accused of witchcraft, holding black masses and even allegations of Satanism. Recent research has shown that Dauger de Cavoye died of alcoholism sometime in the 1680s. Some researchers have claimed that the Eustache Dauger, named in official documents as the prisoner, was, in reality, a valet to the great Cardinal Mazarin. When Louis XIV was a child, and too young to rule, Mazarin was the de-facto ruler of the kingdom. He was allegedly very corrupt and reputed to be the lover of Anne of Austria. There are some who believe that the Man in the Iron Mask was the Dauger who was the valet to the powerful Cardinal. It is speculated that the valet found out some secret about Mazarin’s financial dealings or about his alleged affair with the mother of Louis XIV. The fact that he worked as a servant during his captivity makes this theory one of the most plausible <ref>Sonnio, Paul, In search of the Man in the Iron Mask (California, Faculty Books, 2017)</ref>.