MAN IN THE IRON MASK: The True StoryJOSEPHINE WILKINSON Book Number: 92606 Product format: Hardback
Immortalised in the novel of the same name by Alexander Dumas, the real Man In The Iron Mask became a prisoner on the orders of Louis XIV and remained in custody for the remaining 34 years of his life, being closely guarded by a single gaoler, Saint-Mars, first at Pignerol on the Italian border and finally in Paris. Countless books and films have speculated about his identity and the reason for the mask, which was probably made of velvet rather than iron. The story starts in 1669 when Louvois, Louis XIV's minister of state for war, wrote to Saint-Mars, the governor of Pignerol gaol, to expect a high-security prisoner. Such was the secrecy involved that it was not until a week later that orders were given for the arrest of Eustache Dauger or Danger in Dunkirk. Saint-Mars was a musketeer who had served under the comte d'Artagnan, a historical figure whom Dumas would use in this novel The Three Musketeers. Saint-Mars's sister was a great beauty who became the mistress of his boss Louvois, through whom a steady stream of instructions from the king percolated. A fellow-prisoner was Nicholas Fouquet, who had harboured ambitions to run the country on behalf of the pleasure-loving young Louis XIV, and in time Eustache was allowed to join Fouquet's service as a valet or gentleman's gentleman, which was his profession. Other prisoners included the "Mad Jacobin" monk Lapierre and the former court favourite Lauzun. The author examines a range of theories about the mask, including the possibility that the Dauger was a royal bastard and the mask was to hide the prisoner's uncanny likeness to the king himself. A different possible explanation for his imprisonment relates to King Charles II of England's plan to convert to Catholicism. 280pp, colour reproductions.
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