eustache dauger

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November 19th 1703: Man in the Iron Mask dies

On this day in 1703 the French prisoner known as the ‘Man in the Iron Mask’ died. He was arrested under the name Eustache Dauger in 1669/70 and was in prison until his death, and died under the name Marchioly. He was in the custody of one jailer, Bénigne Dauvergne de Saint-Mars, for his whole imprisonment. The prison official at the Bastille, where the man was held, Lieutenant Etienne du Junca, recorded on November 19th 1703 the death of an “unknown prisoner, who has worn a black velvet mask since his arrival here in 1698.” Many theories exist as to his identity, including that he was an illegitimate brother of King Louis XIV, the son of King Charles II of England, an Italian diplomat, and a French general, but none have ever been confirmed. 

The Man in the Iron Mask

The Man in the Iron Mask (French: L'Homme au Masque de Fer; c. 1640 – 19 November 1703) is the name given to an unidentified prisoner who was arrested under the name “Eustache Dauger” in 1669 or 1670 and subsequently held in a number of French prisons, including the Bastille and the Fortress of Pignerol (modern Pinerolo, Italy). He was held in the custody of the same jailer, Bénigne Dauvergne de Saint-Mars, for a period of 34 years. He died on 19 November 1703 under the name “Marchioly”, during the reign of Louis XIV of France (1643–1715). Since no one ever saw his face because it was hidden by a mask of black velvet cloth, the true identity of the prisoner remains a mystery even today; it has been extensively debated by historians, and various theories have been expounded in numerous books and films.

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