Edited by E. Haldeman-Julius
The Mystery of the
Iron Mask

Theodore M. R. von Keler
Edited by E. Haldeman-Julius

The Mystery of the
Iron Mask

Theodore M. R. von Keler


Copyright, 1923,
Haldeman-Julius Company.




    There are few mysteries in the history of the past few centuries which have been the cause of as much speculation, invention, imagination and phantastic reasoning, as that of The Man With the Iron Mask. More than a hundred writers and historians have discussed the mysterious prisoner, who "never appeared to any person, including his jailer, without a mask which covered his features"; the archives and public libraries of France are full of manuscripts dealing with this fascinating subject. and yet--it was not until just before the Great World War that the mystery was finally solved by the painstaking efforts of a German historian, Dr. Wilhelm Broecking. Dr. Broecking's investigations differed from those of his predecessors chiefly in his manner of approach: instead of advancing a pet theory of his own, and then bending and twisting documents, evidences and records in such a way as to support his theory, (as nearly all former writers on the subject had done), he collected all available official data, examined each document and eliminated those persons who could not possibly have been the mysterious "man with the mask." The result has been the solution of a mystery which seemed to defy solution, ever since the day when the famous prisoner died in the Bastille at Paris, on November 19, 1703.
    It cannot be gainsaid that the popular interest In this mysterious prisoner would never have reached the height which is actually attained, had it not been for the use which Alexandre Dumas made of the incident in his romance Le Vicomte de Bragelonne--one of the d'Artagnan series. In this romance, as well as in other less popular stories, the masked prisoner of the Bastille was represented as the brother of Louis IV, and it is this version which one finds today current among the great masses of the people of many countries. That this supposition is far from the truth, and that this mysterious "Iron Mask" (which by the way was not of iron, but of black velvet) was a prisoner of far less importance, will be shown in the following pages, which form a résumé of Dr. Broecking's exhaustive investigations.


    What are the actual facts--shown by unquestioned documents in the possession of the French government--in connection with the arrest, imprisonment and death of the "Man with the Iron Mask"? They are as follows:
    Bénigne d'Auvergne de St.-Mars, from January, 1665, to April 25, 1681, officer-in-charge of the donjon (the main tower) of the fortress Pinerolo, (Pignerol, seven leagues west-south-west of Turin, Italy) then belonging to France, was the first official to report concerning this prisoner, later to become so famous. From 1681 to January 13, 1687, he acted as governor or the fortified castle Exiles; from April 30, 1687, to April 8, 1698, he was governor of the two islands Sainte Marguerite and Saint Honorat in the gulf of Cannes (these islands are called today "Iles de Lérins"),and, finally, from September 18, 1698, to September 18, 1708, (the date of his death) governor of the Bastille in Paris. According to letters written by him to various officials and ministers of France, he had in his custody a prisoner of State, whom he carried with him from Pinerolo to the Iles de Lérins, and later to the Bastille. The Prisoner was not in his custody during the time that he was governor of Exiles--a period of seven years.
    There is on record in the French Archives a letter, dated January 6, 1696, written by Governor St.-Mars to Barbezieux, Minister of the interior, which reads in part as follows:
    "Monseigneur, Vous me commandés de vous dire commant l'on en euze, quand je suis apsent, ou malade, pour les visites ou précautions qui se font journellement aua prisonniers qui sont commis à ma garde. Mes deux lieutenants servent à manger aux heures réglées, ainsi qu'ils me l'ont vue pratiquer et que je fais encore très souvent lorsque je me porte bien. Le premier venu de mes lieutenants, qui prend res clefs de 1a prison de mon ensien prisonnier (this refers to the 'masked prisoner') par où l'on commence, ii ouvre les trois portes et entre dans la chambre du prisonnier, qui lui remet honnestement les plats et assiettes qu'il a mis les unes sur les autres, pour les donner entre les mains du lieutenant qui ne fait que de sortir deux portes pour les remettre à un de mes sergents, qui les resoit pour les porter sur une table à deux pas de là, où est le second lieutenant qui visite tout ce qui entre et sort de la prison, et voir s'il n'y a rien d'écrit sur les vaisselles; et après que l'on lui a tout donné le nécessaire, l'on fait la visite dedans et dessous son lit, et de là aux grilles des fenêtres de sa chambre, et fort souvent sur lui; après lui avoir fort civilement s'il n'a pas besoin d'autre chose, l'on ferme les portes pour aller en faire tout autant aux autres prisonniers." Translated, this letter reads: "Sir: you order me to report how, during the times when I am sick or absent, the matter of visits to the prisoners placed into my custody is being arranged, and what precautions are taken in the daily dealings with them. My two lieutenants take the meals to them at certain hours, exactly in the manner in which they have seen me do it. or in which I myself do it, when I am feeling well. Whichever of the two lieutenants comes first, takes the keys to the prison of my old prisoner (this refers to the masked prisoner), for we start with him. The lieutenant opens the three doors and enters the room in which the prisoner is confined, and the latter hands back politely the dishes and plates, placed one upon the other, to the lieutenant. The latter has to pass only two doors before he can turn them over to one of my sergeants who steps aside, about two paces, to a small table; here the second lieutenant is stationed and it is his duty to examine everything going in or coming out of the prison, and to see that no writing appears on the dishes or plates. After giving to the prisoner all things necessary, a close examination is made of the room, the bed and the space below the bed, as well as the bars on the windows, and often his clothes and his person. After asking him politely if he needs anything else, the doors are locked and the same proceedings are gone through with the other prisoners."
    When St.-Mars was transferred to the position of Governor of the Bastille, he stopped with his prisoner at Palteau (a chateau belonging to himself) and we possess a letter describing this stop, written by a grandnephew of the governor to M. Fréron, publisher of the Année Littéraire, and published in the issue dated June 30, 1768. This letter contains the following passage: "En 1698 M. de St.-Mars passa du gouvernement des Isles Sainte Marguerite éà celui de la Bastille. En venant en prendre possession, il séjourna avec son prisonnier à sa terre de Palteau. L'homme an masque, arriva dans une litière qul précédait celle de Monsieur de St.-Mars; ils étaent accompagnés de plusieurs gens à cheval. Les paisans allérent audevant de leur seigneur; M. de St.-Mars mangea avec son prisonnier, qui avait le dos opposé aux croisées de la salle à manger qui donnent sur la cour, les paisans que j'ai interrogé ne purent voir s'il mangeait avec son masque; mais ils observèrent très bien. que M. de St.-Mars qui était à table vis-a-vis de lui avait deux pistolets à côté de son assiette. Ils n'avaient pour les servir qu'un seul valet-de-chambre, que allait chercher les plats qu'on lui apportait dans l'anti-chambre, fermant soigneusement sur lui la porte de la salle-à-manger. Lorsque le prisonnier traversait la cour, il avait toujours son masque noir sur le visage; les paysans remarquèrent qu'on lui voyait les dents ct les lèvres, qu'il état grand et avait les cheveux blancs. M. de St.-Mars coucha dans un lit qu'on lui avait dressé auprès de celui de l'homme au masque." (In the year 1698, Monsieur de St.-Mars changed from the government of the Island Ste. Marguerite to that of the Bastille in Paris. On his way to the latter, he stopped at his estate Palteau. The Man in the Mask arrived in a litter, which was carried in advance of that of the governor; they were accompanied by several horsemen. The peasants went to meet their master. M. de St.-Mars dined with his prisoner, the latter's back to the windows leading to the courtyard; the peasants, whom I questioned, could not see whether or not he ate with the mask on his face; but they did observe that M. de St.-Mars who sat opposite him at the table, kept two pistols lying alongside his plate. They were served by a single servant who brought in the dishes which had been put on a table in an anteroom, carefully closing the door to the dining room every time he entered. Whenever the prisoner had to pass across the yard, it was seen that he carried the black mask on his face; the peasants could see his teeth and his lips, and also that he was tall and had white hair. M. de St.-Mars slept in a bed which had been put up alongside of that of the man in the mask.")
     This letter from a nephew of the governor bears the stamp of absolute reliability and impartiality. The writer is satisfied to report actual occurrences, together with reports of eyewitnesses, without taking sides with the various factions which at the time of the publication of the letter were warring with each other over the personality of the mysterious prisoner. The one detail, mentioned in the letter, which can be subjected to close scrutiny is the description of the black mask--and we shall see presently that its description tallies precisely with that given by another person at another occasion.
     On September 18, 1698, about 3 p. m., Governor St.-Mars reached the Bastille with his prisoner. The event is chronicled in the Gazette d'Amsterdam dated September 29. 1698; a translation of the item follows: "M. de St. Mars, heretofore governor of the islands St. Honorat and Ste. Marguerite, arrived several days ago, to take over the government of the Bastille, with which he has been entrusted by His Majesty." In a subsequent issue, dated October 3, 1698, the same paper reported: "M. de St.-Mars has taken over the government of the Bastille, and has brought into it a prisoner whom he brought with him; he left another prisoner at Pierre-en-Oise, while passing Lyon."
     Further details regarding this entrance of the masked prisoner into the Bastille are found in the diary, or "journal," kept by Lieut. Etienne du Junca, who was an official of the Bastille from October 10, 1690, to the day of his death, September 28, 1706. His records cover the fifteen years between 1690 and 1705 and are by far the most important and most reliable source of information which we possess today, concerning the management and conduct of the Bastille under Louis XIV. He was in the habit of entering in one book everything he could discover about prisoners coming to the Bastille, and in another book their dismissal or death, and the circumstances connected therewith. These two books have never been published in full, and only extracts have appeared here and there in historical works, dealing with the reign of Louis XIV, but the originals themselves are on file in the Arsenal Library of Paris and are considered one of the most valuable possessions of that library.
     Under the date of September 18, 1698, we find a detailed report of the arrival of M. de St.-Mars, which report, in translation, reads as follows: "On Thursday, September 18, at 3 p. m., the new governor of the Bastille, M. de St.-Mars made his official entry into this prison. He comes from the islands of Ste. Marguerite and St. Honorat and has brought with him, in a litter an old prisoner, whom he had in custody in Pinerolo, and whom he kept always masked, and whose name has not been given to me, nor recorded. The new governor himself took him from the chair to the first room in the tower La Basinière, where he remained until nightfall. At nine o'clock I was ordered to transfer him into the third room of the tower La Bertaudière, which I had furnished a few days previously by order of the governor with all the necessary equipment; M. de Rosarges, one of the officers who accompanied the governor on his journey, was with me during the transfer, and will have charge of the custody and service for the new prisoner. The governor will furnish the meals for him."
     In explanation of the entry, concerning the furniture and the meals it should be stated here that the rooms in the Bastille were unfurnished; that the majority of the political prisoners held in the Bastille preferred to furnish their rooms themselves to suit their requirements and habits. It was not until 1745, during the year when Father Griffet became chaplain of the Bastille, that a few rooms in that prison were maintained furnished for the reception of those who were unable to buy their own furniture. In those cases, where prisoners were delivered at the Bastille, and were not in sufficiently well-to-do circumstances to purchase their own furniture, the government naturally was compelled to furnish the rooms in as plain and cheap a manner as possible. The circumstance that the officials were forced to install the furniture in the room for the masked prisoner, seems to indicate fairly decisively that he did not have the means to do it at his own expense.
    The remark of Du Junca that "The governor will furnish the meals for him" has been the object of considerable discussion and argument; one faction claiming that it signifies that the governor and the masked prisoner ate at the same table and that the latter was given the same meals as those furnished to the governor himself, and the other faction stating that it simply meant that the governor paid for the meals furnished to the prisoner--for the same reason that the government had to buy the furniture, namely, the poverty of the prisoner himself. The meals in the Bastille were exceedingly generous and it cannot be said that the prisoner had any cause to complain about his treatment. On the contrary, numerous references in reports of later date show that he was treated with exceptional courtesy, and that the very carrying of the mask was not an extra punishment, but an alleviation of his suffering. The prisoner was permitted to attend Mass on Sundays and holidays, but had to keep his face covered by a "black velvet mask." (This report of du Junca, by the way, is the first and only definite statement describing the mask as "black velvet" and not "iron," as the popular belief has it.)
     During the year 1701 the Bastille was overcrowded with prisoners, which made it necessary to place several prisoners into each room--or at least to place several prisoners into some of the rooms. If the masked prisoner had been actually such an important personality as the "Twin Brother of Louis XIV," one might naturally expect to see him in his solitary room, year after year, no matter how many of the other rooms were filled with three and even four prisoners. That this was not the case, seems to do away with the supposition of the prisoner's extraordinary importance. On March 6, of that year, the masked prisoner was removed from the room which he had occupied for nearly three years, and transferred to another room, where he had two companions, while his old room was made ready for a female prisoner committed to the Bastille under a Lettre de cachet. He was taken to the "Second Room of the Tower La Bertaudière"--as we read in the diary of M. du Junca under the date April 30, on which day he reports the commitment of a former officer, but now a "disreputable subject; named Maranville oder Ricarville, whom I placed in the room with Tirmon, and the old prisoner with the mask."
     It seems incredible that this plain statement should have been overlooked, or wilfully ignored by historians who were eager to prove the transcending importance of the prisoner with the mask. To the unbiased it seems evident that this masked prisoner--at that time neither famous nor notorious--must have been a very insignificant wrongdoer, to be placed in the same room with two such common prisoners as Ricarville and Tirmon. Ricarville was nothing more nor less than a reckless "talker" who criticized the government when he was half-drunk, for which criticisms he was imprisoned. Tirmon, according to the records of the Bastille, was a servant, accused of dealing in "black magic" and of seducing young girls. He was but 19 years old when arrested, and transferred to Bicètre prison on December 14, 1701, where he died in 1708, after having been insane since 1703. Of such caliber were the two fellow-prisoners of the masked one--it cannot be said that they were of transcendant importance!
     Ricarville was transferred to the "open prison" at Charenton, on Oct. 15, 1708, where he died in 1709. If it had been the intention of the government to keep the identity of the masked prisoner an inviolate, unsolvable secret. it would not have placed two men into the same room with this prisoner, either or both of whom might be expected to leave the Bastille sooner or later, and one of whom was actually sent to Charenton, which was a prison only in name, and whose inmates were permitted to associate with the outside world day after day, with only the very slightest rules and regulations. It is even reported that Tirmon was to have been sent to the army to become a soldier, just before it was discovered that he had lost his reason, and the government does not seem to have been greatly troubled over the possibility of its tremendous secret of the masked prisoner becoming known to many people.
     Five years had passed since the delivery of the masked prisoner in the Bastille, when the great drawbridge was lowered one Tuesday afternoon (November 20, 1703), at 4 p. m., and the body of the Masked One was carried across and buried in the cemetery St. Paul. The death is described in the journal of M. du Junca, in part, as follows: "Last night, November 19, at about ten o'clock, there died in his room the unknown prisoner, who has worn a black velvet mask since his arrival here in 1698. He had not complained of any serious illness, and the end came so suddenly that our chaplain was unable to administer the last sacrament.... In the register his name (evidently a false one) was entered as M. de Marchiel, and the sum of 40 livres has been spent on the burial." The remark "unknown prisoner" seems to indicate that at the moment of making the entry du Junca did not know the name under which this prisoner was recorded; the addition made later, in which his name and the costs of the burial are given, indicates that upon inquiry he discovered the name "de Marchiel."
     Du Junca was the military executive officer of the Bastille, therefore not conversant with the private history of the various prisoners confined therein, and he had nothing to do with their behavior within the walls; in fact, there are on record several complaints written by du Junca to the governor of the Bastille, in which he claims that he was kept in total ignorance of events taking place in the Bastille, and that he was not permitted to visit any of the prisoners in their rooms. It is therefore easily understandable why du Junca refers to the masked prisoner as "unknown" and "who always wore a black velvet mask"--for when du Junca saw him, he was outside his room, and was compelled to wear the mask. There is no proof whatever that he ever wore the mask in his own room.
    The entry of du Junca concerning the death of the masked prisoner is verified by the death certificate which until 1871 was in the files of the Paris City Hall, but which was destroyed in the fire of that year, when the whole city hall was burned to the ground. This death certificate, which was copied and published before the fire, reads as follows (in translation): "November 19, 3703. Marchioly, about 45 years old, died in the Bastille; his body was interred on November 20, in the Cemetery of St. Paul, in the presence of Messrs. de Rosage (Rosarges), major of the Bastille; and Doctor Reglhe (Reilhe), chief physician of the Bastille. Signed, Rosarges, Reilhe."



     If there is found in the history of a people a single point which is not quite clear, Dame Legend immediately takes a hand and furnishes an unending supply of material, from which coming generations manufacture romances which in most cases outlive and conquer the true stories. And there is probably no other case within the last thousand years which proves this adage as well as that of the "Man in the Iron Mask." The story of Cleopatra's suicide differs in only one aspect--that of the means of death; the more recent mystery of the death of Crown Prince Rudolph of Hapsburg only revolves around the question of whether he killed himself or was murdered,--but in the story of the man in the Iron Mask we find everything possible and impossible that the vivid imagination of mankind has been able to invent.
     Let us look at the most popular and most striking legends which have grown out of this rather unimportant imprisonment of an Italian, who for some reason wore a mask when confronted by strangers, as related in the documentary records quoted in the preceding pages.
     In the first place, it is but fair to state here that the custom of masking prisoners was quite common in Italy during the 17th century. In France, it is true, thin custom was not followed very frequently, but even here we find that, in addition to this particular masked prisoner, there were two other masked prisoners in the Bastille at the same time. That the masked prisoner whom Governor de St.-Mars brought with him from his former prison, should excite the curiosity of the older officers in the Bastille, is but natural; it it also natural that the arrival of the new prisoner together with the new governor of the Bastille, should invest him with a certain degree of interest to the mere curious who saw his masked face when he left the litter. And, in addition to the legitimate curiosity on the part of eyewitnesses, we find that the new governor himself was a practical joker in his way, who considered it a good joke to tell his friends that "His Majesty sent him now and then very important persons as his guests" and who wove the most extravagant stories about another mysterious prisoner, named Eustache Dauger, then also in the Bastille. The less actual news one hears, the more fabricated stories will be received in good faith--and the result was that within a few months of the arrival of the "Masked Prisoner" there was a fair crop of stories running through the streets of Paris, each one wilder and more improbable than the preceding one. But the really fantastic stories did not start until the death of the mysterious prisoner.
     As usually in all prisons where communication is restricted, rumors have a habit of growing out of all proportion to the original story which started it. These stories among the prisoners (some of whom gradually came to claim that they had been fellow-prisoners with the Masked One, sharing the same room with him) reached the ears of several writers who had been imprisoned during the early years of the 18th century and who were tremendously impressed with the stories of the mysterious masked prisoner. According to some of these tales, the governor in person attended to the wants of this famous prisoner; his linen was taken personally by the governor and clean linen given back; meals were sent from the governor's table to the room of the Masked one, the governor himself often coming along and dining in the prisoner's room--and other tales of similar content. The teller of each story let it be understood that it was a secret of the utmost importance, and that to speak of it would bring disaster upon all concerned; that the relator had heard it from a dying prisoner who had known the Masked One well; that no one else knew the facts; that the secret must not be spoken of in public, etc., etc.
     Several of the writers, into whose eager ears these stories were poured by prisoners, later were freed and mingled again with the French people. Naturally, they spoke here and there of the "Mystery of the Masked One"--for by that time it had already become a mystery in the public eye. One of the specifically mentioned points in the secret was the solemn pledge which each governor is supposed to have been forced to give to the king, not to disclose the identity of the masked prisoner to any person except to his successor; the new governor! And this statement was believed to such an extent that the well-known historian Michelet included it as fact in his history of the reign of Louis XIV! (But the masked prisoner actually lived in the Bastille but five years, and those five years under the governorship or St.-Mars.)
     How early Legend took hold of the story, can be proven by an examination of letters written by the Duchess Elizabeth Charlotte of Orleans, sister-in-law of Louis XIV, during the year 1711, to the Princess of Hannover. In one of these letters, dated October 10, 1711, we read that "there was a man in the Bastille for several years, who had to carry a mask during every hour of the day; two soldiers were constantly at his side with strict orders to kill him on the spot if he dared to take the mask off for a moment; that he slept, ate and went to communion with the mask on; . . . etc." If such a story could be written by a sister-in-law of the king himself, it is easy to imagine what the people in general believed and were made to believe of this mysterious masked prisoner. One of the first effects of the spreading of the stories was the change which occurred in the material from which the mask was made. Although the actual records prove that it was of black velvet, leaving mouth and eyes free, popular belief made it of iron and the masked Italian prisoner from the island of St. Marguerite and Pinerolo became "The Man With the Iron Mask." And before long, the iron mask was described as having been riveted around the neck of the unhappy prisoner, so that he could not remove it at any time.
     Chevalier de Mouhy, a writer of romances published in 1746 a novel entitled Le Masque de fer, ou les Aventures admirables du père et du fils, which is one of the most miserable productions of a mediocre writer and which was forbidden by the French government. Because of the edict of the authorities, the book sold in thousands of copies in Italy, Spain and Holland, and was smuggled into France from all directions, attaining a degree of popularity which was quite out of proportion to its value. In this story, the viceroy of Catalonia is married secretly to the sister of the King of Castile; the latter hears of the marriage through a traitor, sneaks into the bedroom of the married couple and has them arrested and their faces covered with riveted iron masks! The two unhappy prisoners are transported to a desolate island, where the princess gives birth first to a son, and two years later to a daughter--and the daughter had on her breast a birthmark in the shape of the mask!
     This story by De Mouhy had absolutely nothing to do with the prisoner in the Bastille, but it suggested an idea of punishing certain persons by enclosing their faces with iron masks during imprisonment; the public had heard the stories of the masked prisoner in the Bastille and immediately applied the fictitious invention to him, and declared in forbidding the story in France the government practically had admitted that there existed some connection between the tale and the mystery of the masked prisoner of the Bastille. Strange to say, the clever Voltaire was one of those who immediately accepted this version of the story, and in his book "The Age of Louis XIV" (published in 1751) told a detailed story of the construction of the mask, "with its movable, hinged lower jaw, held in place by springs which made if possible for him to eat with it"--and ever since there have been people in all parts of the world ready to describe in greatest detail the technical construction of this remarkable mask--and this despite the fact that du Junca's Journal had specifically stated that the mask was of black velvet! To crown it all, one of these busybodies "discovered" in the city of Langres, among a quantity of old pieces of armor and iron implements "the identical mask which the famous prisoner in the Bastille had worn during his incarceration, on which was engraved a Latin inscription referring to him." And there were actually people who believed that and paid admission fees to see this wonderful historical mask!
     If P. T. Barnum had heard of the story, would he not have exhibited this mask in his "Museum"? And can any one doubt that many thousands would have gone home from the exhibit, convinced that they had seen the actual mask of the famous "twin brother of Louis XIV"?
     However, Barnum did not hear of it, and the American people were therefore spared one additional fake!
     Shortly after the prisoner had been buried, a legend arose, concerning the extreme respect with which the prisoner had been treated by all the prison officials, and specially by the governor himself. It was told--and generally believed--that whenever the governor or his officers desired to speak with this mysterious prisoner they removed their hats and remained standing, until he invited them to sit down; that his meals were served on silver plate; that fine linen and expensive books were furnished to him; in short, that everything possible was done to render his imprisonment bearable. It is almost cruel to demolish this beautiful little story--but, as a matter of fact, there are records existant which show just what supplies were furnished, and du Junca's description does away with the alleged "royal" honors shown to the prisoner in the Bastille.
     One pretty little story is told by Voltaire in his "Ago of Louis XIV." One day, so the story reads, "the prisoner wrote with the point of a knife on the silver plate and hurled the plate out of the window towards the river which flows past the base of the tower in which he was confined. There was a boat nearby and the fisherman in it saw the silver plate fall. He picked it up and brought it back to the prison. He was immediately taken before the governor and asked if he had read what was written on the plate. When he answered that he had never learned to read, the governor would not believe it, but ordered an investigation into the man's life. When it was shown that he actually had never had any schooling and could not read or write his own name, the governor ordered him set free, saying 'It is your great luck, my friend, that you can't read!'"
     Another fantastic tale is found in the Histoire générale de Provence, written by Father Papon. "I met in the citadel an old officer of the guard, who was 79 years old. He told me that his father, who had served in the same company, had often told how a barber of that company had gone past the tower one day and seen a white bundle swimming on the water. He had taken this bundle to the governor of the prison, M. de St.-Mars, thinking it had fallen out of one of the windows. The bundle was a man's shirt of very fine quality, folded carelessly and covered with writing from one end to the other. After M. de St.-Mars had read a few lines of the message, he became greatly excited and asked the barber if he had seen what was on the linen. The barber declared firmly that he had not even opened the folded shirt, and had not read a word of the message--but two days later, he was found dead in his bed."
     As is usual in such cases, there is a grain of truth underlying all these stories. Numerous attempts were made by certain inmates of the prison to communicate with the outside world. but these attempts were not made by the masked prisoner, but by two others--clergymen of the "Reformed church"--who later had to suffer disciplinary measures for their breaking of the prison rules. One of these insisted on singing day and night psalms in a loud voice, hoping that someone passing by night recognize his voice and carry the news of his imprisonment to his friends; the other was caught several times, trying to write messages on his tinware and throwing them out the window. The particular prisoner (who later become known as the masked prisoner of the Bastille) was not in Saints Marguerite at that time at all; the one who was at that time kept there in confinement was a certain Eustache Dauger--of whom we shall hear further on in this book. Legend did not hesitate for a moment to weave these occurrences into the "story" of the masked prisoner changing the prison tin into royal "silver plate"!
     After the death of the masked prisoner, it was found advisable to clear out the room in which he had been confined, and to furnish it in a somewhat different manner for the new occupant: this much is on record in the prison journal. Legend, in ignoring totally that a similar action was taken in nearly every case where a prisoner died in his room, proceeded to weave new stories based on this simple action of the officials. It was declared that every particle of destructible material (clothes, linen, paper), was burned and that the room itself was carefully scrubbed and repainted--to cover all possible evidences of his occupation! How this sudden strange feeling for the utmost secrecy can be made to rhyme with the fact that during his lifetime he was given several companions who shared the room with him, and who were permitted to leave the Bastille and communicate with outside people, Legend fails to explain.
     As the prisoner was not a "felon" (as we shall see later), the governor himself furnished a new clean piece of linen in which to bury him. And public imagination immediately changed this piece of simple linen into embroidered underwear, with precious laces, etc., and then reasoning backward in a most fantastic manner, proved from this desire for fine laces that the prisoner must have been a son of Queen Anne of Austria (the wife of Louis XIII), who was also fond of fine, embroidered linen. This "fairy tale" with its incredibly slender basis of truth, was accepted by millions of people as the most trustworthy evidence, and was incorporated into hundreds of stories and books dealing with the masked prisoner. It was not until Marius Topin published his great work on the masked prisoner in the Bastille (1883) that the reading people of Europe began to doubt the Queen Anne story. And again we find M. Voltaire, with his trenchant style and fervent imagination as the guilty one who sent this monumental lie into the world, doubtless fully aware that it was a lie, but enjoying the sensation.
     Although a few unimportant writers discussed the alleged "mystery of a masked prisoner" in the Bastille as early as 1715 (see especially Constantin de Renneville's book L'Inquisition française ou Histoire de la Bastille), the general public did not pay much attention to the stories, until there appeared the romantic story Mémoires secrets pour servir l'histoire de Perse, which, while ostensibly written about Persia, yet managed to describe fairly clearly conditions at the court of Louis XIV. The mysterious prisoner in the Bastille was mentioned in this book, and owing to the sensation which the entire work created, the rumors of a mysterious masked person or great importance gained entry into all classes of the population. Voltaire again saw the chance of creating a further sensation, and embodied one of the chapters of the Histoire de Perse in his book on the Age of Louis XIV (see Chapter 25). In this chapter we read the following fantastic tale:
     "A few months after the death of Mazarin there occurred an incident which stands without a parallel in tbs history of the world, and of which previous historians have not mentioned a single word. With the greatest precautions and employing all means of keeping the secret inviolate, officers of the royal household took a young unknown prisoner to the castle on the island of Sainte Marguerite in the Mediterranean Sea. This young man wore an iron mask, fitted with a movable lower Jaw and supplied with springs which enabled him to eat. He was a well-built, slender young man with wavy brown hair and an exceptionally melodious voice, evidently highly cultured. His guards had strict orders to shoot him instantly if he should dare to remove his mask at any time. This young man was kept on the island at Sainte Marguerite until a trustworthy officer, M. de St.-Mars, was chosen governor of the Bastille. M. de St.-Mars was at that time governor of Pinerolo and was ordered to stop at Sainte Marguerite on his way to Paris and bring the masked prisoner with him. The Marquis of Louvois visited the prisoner before his transfer to the Bastille and remained standing all the time he was speaking to him, treating him with a courtesy and politeness which bordered upon respect. This prisoner apparently took great delight in the finest linen and laces, played on the guitar and sang occasionally in a melancholy voice. He received the very best of meals, was treated by his guards with the greatest courtesy and the governor himself rarely sat down in his presence, except upon special request on the part of the prisoner."
     Despite this detailed description, Voltaire did not see fit at that time to make any statements as to the probable or possible identity of this prisoner. During the years following the publication of the book, popular interest evidently busied itself with this mysterious prisoner and Voltaire thought it time to spring another surprise upon his readers. In the first edition of his Questions sur l'encyclopédie par des amateurs, he brings up the matter of the masked prisoner and declares that he had been masked for one reason only--and that was because he showed an extraordinary resemblance--which might be discovered by curious people. That is as far as he dared carry the joke at this time. Later, Voltaire left France and spent a number of years at the court of Frederick the Great of Prussia, where he revised some of his earlier writings and published new editions of them. In the second edition of the Questions he did not hesitate to make the following definite statement: "The masked prisoner had been a bastard child of Queen Anne of Austria, wife of Louis XIII. The queen later took Cardinal Richelieu into the secret and both conspired to bring up and educate this child in secret. After the death of Cardinal Mazarin, Louis XIV heard of the matter and, to obviate any and all possible complications which might have arisen through the presence of an elder half-brother, ordered him arrested and imprisoned in the Bastille. And in order that the resemblance might not be noticed by the officers and attendants, the prisoner was compelled to wear a mask, under threat of instant death if he should dare to remove it."
     Voltaire, even in this extended statement, did not name the father of this bastard child, and this omission on the part of this sarcastic and satiric writer was the signal for a whole regiment of mediocre writers to plunge into the mystery and start a "guessing match" as to who the father probably had been. Marquis de Luchet, for instance, charged the Duke of Buckingham with the fatherhood, and found a defender of his theory in the well-known Charpentier, scientist and historian. Regnault-Warrin then wrote a four-volume novel called Le Masque de Fer, which contained a picture of the mysterious masked prisoner--heaven alone knows from what hallucination the artist suffered when he drew this picture! The novel was well-written and found a hearty reception, going into four successive editions. In fact, the story was so much discussed that Napoleon heard of it and ordered an investigation into the matter. Talleyrand and Maret, whose duty it was to carry out this order, reported after several months that the records and documents were mislaid in the archives and that it would be a long time before proper order could be brought into the enormous mass of material dealing with the courts of Louis XIII, XIV and XVI, which had been treated with scant respect by the revolutionary officials. In 1834, Dufey de l'Yonne published a novel in which he used the same story of Buckingham and Queen Anne, without a single additional proof, or even the pretense of a proof.
     The second person to be connected with this alleged bastard son of Queen Anne was a common monk, by the name of Fiacre, and the alleged elder half-brother of Louis XIV was born in 1636. This version did not acquire the popularity and wide circulation which Voltaire's and Luchet's stories possessed.
     The mysterious prisoner became a younger brother of Louis XIV in the carefully-written book by Saint Mihiel, entitled Le véritable homme dit au masque de fer. In this book we find copies of several letters alleged to have been written by the Duchess Elizabeth Charlotte d'0rléans, in which allusions are made to a secret marriage between Queen Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin, the fruit of which was this prisoner, born 1644. As the date of this birth makes the "half-brother" (even granted that there was such a marriage and birth) several years younger than Louis XIV--it does away with all apparent needs of imprisoning him, to protect the reigning king.
     Another version appears in a volume of memoirs by Abbé Soulavie, secretary of Cardinal Richelieu, published in 1790. These memoirs, some of which have been found false and inaccurate, tell of an apocryphal report by governor de St.-Mars, according to which Louis XIV was born about noon, and the same evening, at 8:30 p. m., the Queen gave birth to a second boy. In order to avoid the quarrels and difficulties which the presence of two "dauphins" (crown-princes) would precipitate, it was decided to have the later-born disappear. There Is absolutely nothing in any records existant during the past century, which would give weight to this story, and the consensus of opinion now is that it was no more or less than an invention of Abbé Soulavie. This present knowledge, however, did not prevent the story from gaining credence in the widest circles, and from finding defenders in several historians between 1790and 1835. Even Michelet, the careful investigator, did not have the courage of throwing aside this story as a fabrication pure and simple, although he did suggest doubts to its truth.
     That such a fantastic story, on the other hand, should be welcomed with open arms by the great mass of novelists, dramatists and poets, is easily understood, and the latter half of the 19th century witnessed a veritable avalanche of novels, plays and tragedies dealing with the mysterious masked prisoner--who inevitably wore the cruel iron mask first invented for him by the versatile Monsieur Voltaire half a century after the man himself had been buried.
     And it is not surprising that some of these novelists went even further than the Abbé Soulavie and made Louis XIV the son of Queen Anne and Mazarin, while the poor prisoner in the Bastille was in reality the legitimate son and heir of Louis XIII and, therefore, King of France. This particular version had the most far-reaching consequences, because it placed public doubt upon the legitimacy of Louis XIV, and therefore upon the entire Bourbon dynasty from that date on, and found wide circulation during the revolution and under the first empire.
     From a story of this type it is but a step to the following tale, which is without a doubt the most preposterous of all, and with which we shall close this chapter: the connection between the Man with the Iron Mask and Napoleon I. According to the author of a manifesto, circulated by the Chouans during the year IX of the French Republic (1800-1801) it was not the intention of Napoleon to turn over the throne to the Bourbons, after he had succeeded in establishing peace and quiet in Western Europe. "Everything points to the continuation of Napoleon on the throne of France, and it is claimed that he is only awaiting the return of peace, when he will claim the throne as his right, because of his descent from the Man with the Iron Mask!"
     An investigation of the sources from which they obtained this notion shows the following legendary tale, circulating during the first years of Napoleon's rise to power: "At the time when the prisoner on the island Sainte Marguerite attained the age of twenty years, he demanded of the governor permission to have a wife. A widow of thirty years of age was found who agreed to sacrifice her freedom in order to obtain for her daughter a large dowry. In less than a year the widow gave birth to a boy, whom she nourished herself until he was old enough to be given other food. The boy was thereupon taken to Corsica, where he was given to a reliable family to be brought up properly. It was indicated to these people that the boy was 'of good parents' (or, as it was then expressed: de bonne part, which in Italian translation reads di buona parte!) A direct descendant of this child was the great Napoleon Bonaparte!" Truly a story worthy of the imagination of the great Alexandre Dumas!



     Who, then, was this mysterious masked prisoner?
     We have seen in the preceding chapters that this question was discussed shortly after his death in the highest circles of France; that the Duchess Elizabeth Charlotte of Orleans made several attempts to discover his identity and finally decided that it must have been an English lord, who had become involved in the disastrous enterprise of the Duke of Berwick against King William of England, and who had been secretly arrested and put in prison under a fictitious name, compelled to wear a mask whenever he approached another person.
     It was very difficult in those days for historians and investigators to obtain access to original documents in the State Archives, and the several political upheavals in France during the end of the 18th and early part of the 19th centuries made it still more complicated. Added to this phase of the matter we must take into consideration that--just because no one knew anything definite, every one was afraid that perhaps something might become known which would be of disadvantage to his own party and his own political opinions and preferences. The Bourbon royalists were almost afraid to start an investigation, fearing that the legitimacy of their standard bearer might be put in jeopardy; the Imperialists thought it well to leave things as they were, being perfectly satisfied with the insinuations which they had thrown into the royaltists' camp, and which the French people were still considering in the light of serious probabilities. By tacit understanding, therefore, a really impartial and thorough investigation was never undertaken; but as the general public had become thoroughly interested in the stories of the masked prisoner, a host of fiction writers and pseudo-historians exercised their ingenuity to the utmost, in order to set forth new theories regarding the identity of this mysterious person. The result of all this imaginative writing has been to obscure the actual facts and to make a true and correct solution of the mystery a matter of hard and tedious work.
     And yet, when the subject matter is approached in an unbiased scientific manner, it loses much of its mystery and becomes practically a mathematical problem, dealing with the gradual elimination of the impossible, the narrowing down to one or two probabilities and the final selection of the one answer which fills every requirement.
     Let us take the definite statement of du Junca as our starting point: "The masked prisoner was brought by the new governor, de St.-Mars, when the latter was made governor of the Bastille." St.-Mars had been governor of Pinerolo fortress and also of the islands Ste. Marguerite and St. Honorat, it is distinctly stated in the official records of the Bastille officer that "this masked prisoner was in the custody of St.-Mars while the later was governor of Pinerolo." This statement evidently forces us to seek the masked prisoner among those who actually were in the Pinerolo prison during the governorship of St.-Mars. We know also that St.-Mars was transferred in October, 1681, to the governorship of the fortified prison at Exiles, and it follows from this that the masked prisoner must have been one of those who were in Pinerolo previous to October, 1681--for St.-Mars never returned to Pinerolo after his transfer. All prisoners who were delivered into Pinerolo prison after October, 1681, are therefore automatically excluded from consideration.
     Now as to the prisoners in Pinerolo, who might possibly later have become the mysterious "masked prisoner of the Bastille." Luckily we have a letter from the minister of the interior, Louvois, to St.-Mars, in which the former gives certain instructions to the governor, concerning all the prisoners in his custody. This letter orders St.-Mars to take with him to Exiles "the two prisoners in the lower tower" and orders that the "remaining three prisoners should be kept in Pinerolo until further orders, and that for their support Commissioner du Channoy would pay daily the sum of ten francs." It is therefore an established fact that there were five prisoners in Pinerolo at the time of the governor's transfer to Exiles. This deduction is borne out by a, letter written by Governor St.-Mars to Abbé d'Estrades in Turin, on June 25, 1681. This letter reads in part as fellows: "I am going to Exiles shortly and will have to watch there two 'blackbirds,' whom I have at present in Pinerolo and who have no other name than 'the gentlemen in the lower tower'; but I am leaving Matthioli with the other prisoners in Pinerolo." Here we find again the number of prisoners given as "five" and the additional information that one of these was Matthioli, who was to remain in Pinerolo. Matthioli had been a confidential secretary and minister of state of the Duke of Mantua.
     The records of the Pinerolo prison show that the fellow prisoners of Matthioli were: (1) Eustache Dauger, who had been brought to Pinerolo in 1669; (2) an insane Dominican monk, who was brought to Pinerolo in 1674; (3) a man named Dubreuil, who was arrested as a spy in Alsace and kept first in Breisach, later in Pinerolo. The identity of these three prisoners is attested several times in letters addressed to the governor, and by others written to the officials in Paris: it would make this little booklet too long to cite each letter separately. The fourth prisoner was a certain La Rivière, formerly a servant of Fouquet, who accompanied his master to the prison and later remained there alone, after the death of Fouquet.
     This completes the roster of five prisoners--the total number then in custody at Pinerolo. In a letter written by the Minister of the Interior to St.-Mars, the latter was ordered to take especially strict precautions with La Rivière and Dauger, and to see that under no circumstances should they be permitted to see anyone, nor to communicate with anyone by word of mouth or by writing. It is certain that this order was carried out scrupulously and it was these two prisoners who were confined in the lower tower, referred to in the letter of St.-Mars as "his two blackbirds." There was no other prisoner in the castle of Pinerolo during these years; the "masked prisoner of the Bastille" must therefore have been one of these five men named. And it follows that all the other historical persons, named here and there as the "masked prisoner" cannot have been involved in this transfer from Pinerolo to the Bastille. The Comte de Vermandois, Duke of Beaufort, Duke of Monmouth, Nicholas Fouchet, Avedick, Oldendorff, Comte de Keroualze, General Bulonde, Molière and Charles the First of England therefore must be omitted from all further consideration, aside from the fact that we have records of their deaths in other places and other years.
     One of the five prisoners in Pinerolo at the time of the governor's transfer to Exiles, died in the winter 1693-94. As the "Masked prisoner" was alive for several years after this date, he cannot have been the one that died--therefore it is of interest and importance to prove from the archives the identity of the one who did die. The Minister, in one of the reports still in the files, refers to this prisoner as "the oldest in term of service" in Pinerolo. It must have been one of the three who were left at Pinerolo when the governor went to Exiles; it could not have been Dubreuil, because we find on investigation that he was taken to Ste. Marguerite in 1694; It could not have been Matthioli, for he came to Pinerolo long after Dubreuil--and could therefore not be "the oldest in service;" and as the Minister asked the governor to write the name of the dead prisoner in order that his successor, Laprade, might know it, it could not have been Matthioli, for the latter was known to Laprade personally. That leaves but one possibility, and that is the insane Dominican monk.
     Having eliminated one of the three possibilities, there remain two, Dubreuil and Matthioli. as the "masked prisoner" of the Bastille. No one has claimed that Dubreuil could be the masked one, for he was nothing but an ordinary, ignorant spy in Alsace, whose arrest took place openly, and for whose delivery to the police a small reward was paid to some informers. Everything in connection with the Masked Prisoner of the Bastille however shows that he must have been a far more important prisoner than a mere spy, and that special precautions were taken with him for many years.
     That leaves Matthioli as the only remaining possibility, and it now behooves us to test the existing records, with this idea in view. In the first place. we will remember that du Junca in his official Bastille report mentions the fact that the masked prisoner was in the custody of St.-Mars during the latter's control of the fortress Pinerolo, but says nothing of his having been at Exiles with St.-Mars. This applies to Matthioli--for he was left at Pinerolo when the governor was transferred to Exiles. But it might be argued that du Junca perhaps forgot to mention the transfer of Matthioli to Exiles, and that an argument based on an omission is a poor argument at best. It is therefore necessary to check up the future careers of the two prisoners whom St.-Mars took with him to Exiles. One of these died at the end of 1686--which eliminates him from the proposition. The other can only be Eustache Dauger--for he is the only one to whom the Minister's remark "the prisoner who has been in your custody for more than 20 years" can be applied (see letter dated August 31, 1691). It is on record that the prisoner who died in Exiles, made a last will and testament, leaving certain property to relatives; as political prisoners, spies, etc., were not permitted to dispose of their belongings by will (their possessions being forfeited to the state) it follows that it must have been La Rivière who died, for he was a more or less voluntary prisoner, having followed his master Fouquet into imprisonment.
     Supposing, therefore, that du Junca's entry in his journal can not be taken at its full face value, and that the masked prisoner actually may have been at Exiles with St.-Mars, it can only have been Dauger. Matthioli and Dauger are therefore the only two persons who remained of all the prisoners whom St.-Mars had in his custody, and one of these two must have been the masked prisoner of the Bastille. Let us, therefore, examine the personality, identity and history of these two prisoners, and see which one is the most likely--in fact, as we shall presently discover--the only possible Man in the Mask.
     Antonio Ercole Matthioli was born on December 1, 1640, at Bologna, as son of a well-known jurist. When but 19 years old he graduated summa cum laude from Padua University. He married Camilla Paleotti, the widow of Alessandro Piatesis, thereby becoming related to one of the oldest and most respected families of Bologna. He had two sons. Matthioli, shortly after the birth of his second son, moved to Mantua, where his extraordinary skill, intelligence and cleverness attracted the attention of the Duke, Charles III, who selected him as his secretary of state. After the death of Charles III, Matthioli remained in a similar position with the successor, Duke Ferdinand Charles IV, who made him a senator, which carried with it the hereditary title of "Count." Contemporary historians declare that Matthioli was one of the most unscrupulous politicians of his time; that he aided the Duke in any and all his escapades, not hesitating to play the go-between in shady love-affairs. At any rate, he rose in power and accumulated a very large fortune, and was generally considered as an adventurer who never hesitated in his means when it came to carrying out a purpose which he had set for himself. He was rather skillful with the pen and a clever letter-writer--so much so that he rose high in the favor of several reigning princes (Duke Charles Emanuel of Savoy and the Duchess-Regent Johanna Baptista de Nemours). He was in correspondence with many officials at the Papal court, at the Milano court, and traveled constantly between Padua, Verona and Mantua. One of his cousins was an influential member of the Order of the Jesuits and through him he maintained connections with the superiors of that order; he also was in constant touch with the French ambassador. He "did business" with everyone who had any influence or wealth, and never showed any particular scruples as to the means employed in carrying out his purposes.
     The French government, in the early part of 1676, began negotiations for the transfer of the important fortress Casale, on the river Po, to French suzerainty. This fortress belonged to the Duke of Mantua, in his capacity as Margrave of Montserrat. In view of the fact that Pinerolo belonged to France since the year 1632, the acquisition of Casale would have brought the Turin principality between two fires, and rendered it practically helpless against any encroachments on the part of Louis XIV. The latter was kept well informed regarding the chronic deficit in the treasury of Mantua, due chiefly to the excesses and extravagance of the duke, and the simplest plan was naturally that of buying the fortress for a substantial amount of ready cash. Negotiations to that effect were begun through the French ambassador to the Republic of Venice, the Abbé d'Estrades, by way of an intermediary (a publisher by the name of Giuliani, who was a paid agent of France, with Matthioli, private secretary, minister and confidant of the Duke of Mantua. Matthioli arranged for a meeting between the Duke and Giuliani, and the former declared himself ready to cede Casale to France, provided the ambassador would guarantee a substantial compensation by Louis XIV. The Duke appointed the Marchese Cavriani and Don Giuseppe Varano as his representatives in the negotiations, but turned over the chief control to the Conti Matthioli. The Duke himself was very anxious to confer with the French ambassador in person, but was afraid of a premature discovery of the plans; he therefore ordered that all negotiations should be carried on in the utmost secrecy. The king of France was to send a considerable army into Mantua, or at least into such close vicinity that a few days' march would bring them to his aid, should the rival powers (Savoy, Spain, Austria and Venice) take steps to punish the Duke of Mantua for his "sale" of an important fortress to their enemy, France. Louis XIV, among other things, agreed to turn over the command of this army to the Duke of Mantua; promised to make no peace with the other powers, except under the condition that the Duke should be indemnified for his losses, and should be given at least a share of the conquests and spoils taken--or presumably to be taken--by the French troops in the Milano territory. But Louis did not agree to pay over to the Duke the sum of 100,000 pistols (a pistol, or pistole, was a gold coin valued at 10 francs) which the latter demanded as a sort of advance compensation, but desired to have the exact amount fixed by later agreements. All in all, however, Louis was exceedingly pleased with the negotiations so far, and wrote a letter of appreciation and thanks to Matthioli.
     During the carnival of 1678 the Duke of Mantua came to Venice, as usual, and on March 13, at midnight, there was a secret meeting between him and the French ambassador, attended by Matthioli and Giuliani, all of whom were masked. According to the report of d'Estrades the Duke confirmed everything that Matthioli had promised and arranged up to that time; but the Duke subsequently charged the ambassador with having falsified the report of the meeting which he sent to Louis XIV. It was the Duke's intention to send Matthioli to Paris, there to complete the negotiations, and conclude a treaty, but the French government was in no great hurry. In the first place, it found it impossible to send a considerable number of soldiers at that time Into Italy, and, in the second place, the Duke of Mantua began to have his doubts as to the intentions of the French and would not permit them a free hand in Casale.
     It was, therefore, November, 1678, before Matthioli finally arrived in Paris, accompanied by Giuliani. D'Estrades himself introduced him at Versailles and presented him to Pomponne, minister of foreign affairs. Matthioli handed him a letter of introduction from the Duke of Mantua, and in order to show how far his master trusted him in this important matter, he told the minister the exact wording of his instructions, which were written in the hand of Matthioli, and only signed by the Duke. On December 5, 1678, Louis gave permission to his ministers to negotiate with Matthioli direct, and two days later the treaty was signed. In the words of Pomponne: "Never in all my experience as minister have I seen or heard of a treaty being concluded and signed with greater ease and in a shorter time than this one. And I also have never heard of an important concession such as this one, for which the second party asked so small a consideration." The treaty included an alliance between France and Mantua, in which France obligated itself to support the Duke in his claims to the sovereignty of Guastalla, which he demanded as an inheritance to which he was entitled, and France also gave the Duke of Mantua the command over any and all French troops to be sent into Italy, in case of war between France and Spain (with the allies of Spain included), as well as a part of the conquests which might be made in the territory of Milano. It was also provided that a French garrison should march into Casale and take possession of the fortress and that upon entry of these troops into Casale, the Duke was to receive the sum of 100,000 "Talers" (about $75,000) in cash. The treaty was to be ratified in Casale, during February of the coming year.
     After the treaty had been signed, and the successful conclusion of the negotiations reported to Louis XIV, Matthioli was received in private audience by the French king and showered with presents. Among those positively known to have been given to him, are a very valuable diamond and the sum of 400 double Louis-d'ors (16,000 francs), while promises of still greater sums were held out to him upon final ratification of the treaty. It was also stipulated that the son of Matthioli would be received among the pages of the royal household, and that his brother, a priest, should receive a "fat" diocese. During this audience, and during the few days which he remained in Paris before starting back for Mantua, Matthioli urged that the utmost secrecy be kept in this matter, and that no one should try to communicate with him in this connection except the French ambassador at Venice (Pinchesne). It was also stipulated that two days after the ratification of the treaty, the French troops should enter Casale.
     Only two months had passed since the signing of the treaty in Paris, when the various courts in Europe, who were hostile to France--that is to say, Milano, Turin, Vienna, Madrid and Venice--had in their possession accurate copies of this treaty between France and Mantua. In March, 1679, Baron Asfeld, who carried the ratification from France to Increa, where he was to meet Matthioli, was arrested as he passed across Milanese territory and imprisoned. He was searched, the incriminating papers found on him and the ratification of this treaty was an impossibility under the circumstances.
     What had happened? Matthioli had become a traitor and had sold the secret treaty to all the powers who were then opposed politically to France. Through this treachery he placed the Duke of Mantua and the King of France in the most awkward position, and caused disturbances in at least five countries, which came near leading to a general war. What made him commit this base treachery? His insane love for money and his character: he was unable, by nature, to be honest with anyone for any length of time.
     Several historians have tried to give Matthioli the benefit of the doubt, and suggested that perhaps he had realized when it was too late, that the occupation of Casale would probably mean a defeat of the North italian territories by France, and that his Italian patriotism had come to the fore and he had stopped the negotiations at that point by communicating the contents of the treaty. However, this suggestion is not a very plausible one. In the first place, Italy at that time could not engender patriotism in any breast, for it was an agglomeration of petty states, each jealous of the other and rarely pulling together for the common good. In the second place, Matthioli is known to have received large sums of money just about that time, from the various foreign countries which later possessed copies of the famous treaty. In the language or modern jurisprudence, the "circumstantial evidence" against him was too strong for anyone to believe in any patriotic fervor! There is documentary evidence that he received 2,000 lire from the Duke of Savoy; that Spain paid him 4,000 pistoles and that the Venetians paid over to him certain amounts of money for alleged "services." And as a traitor does not usually keep a record of amounts received for his treacheries, it stands to reason that he must have had similar payments from the other powers, although no written evidence could be discovered later on.
     Be this as it may--Matthioli was to pay heavily for his treachery. On March 4, 1679, d'Estrades was transferred from Venice to Turin, where he arrived a few days later. On April 8, d'Estrades wrote a letter to Pomponne at Paris, in which he doubted the treachery of Matthioli, but proposed, in case the treachery was proven, that he be kidnaped and taken to Pinerolo, the French fortress. Pomponne answered this letter on April 22, showing in detail how Matthioli committed the treachery and ordered the ambassador to use all means at his disposal to obtain the ratified copy of the treaty from Matthioli. Neither the minister nor Louis XIV wanted to have anything to do with a kidnaping of the traitor from foreign territory and transferring him to a French fortress, for a discovery of the violation of international rights would have precipitated a war, which France was anxious to avoid at this particular time. But in a subsequent letter written to the ambassador, he was authorized to take steps for a kidnaping, provided it was the only way to obtain possession of the ratified copy of the treaty, which it was thought the clever Matthioli kept concealed on his person or in his rooms.
     D'Estrades learnt at this time that Matthioli had not yet handed over the original documents to the Duke of Mantua, but had simply given him copies, retaining the originals for himself in order to be able to show them to those who had paid him money for the knowledge. The Duke was furious at Matthioli and refused to sign any further treaties with France, as long as Matthioli remained at large and free to come and go as he pleased. On April 25th Pomponne sent an urgent "semaphore telegram" to Turin, ordering d'Estrades to arrest Matthioli at the earliest possible moment, and to transport him to Pinerolo. This "telegram" closed with the following words: "No person shall know what has become of this man." This postscript was added by special order of Louis XIV, who was anxious to render this traitor innocuous for all time.
     Upon receipt of these orders d'Estrades laid his plans. He had been clever enough to simulate complete confidence in Matthioli, and now made it appear as if Catinat, who was then in Pinerolo, carried a large sum of money with him, which was intended for the reopening of the Casale matter. Matthioli became interested and suggested that a meeting be arranged between them. D'Estrades agreed to that and an appointment was made for the second day of May, in a church not far from Turin. Matthioli was there on time, and the ambassador took him in his own carriage to the place where they were to meet Catinat. A small bridge across a brook had broken down and Matthioli and, D'Estrades were compelled to proceed on foot for more than three miles until they reached the inn at which Catinat was to wait for them. Catinat was there, according to promise and all three entered one of the rooms. Matthioli there made the statement that the original documents, with their proper ratification signatures, were in the hands of his wife, the Countess Matthioli, then living at the cloister of St. Louis at Bologna. As soon as Matthioli had made this statement, D'Estrades left the room and a few moments later several French dragoons entered and placed Matthioli under arrest. Half an hour later he was in the dungeon at Pinerolo.
     There is no question that this kidnaping of a state officer of Mantua, by French dragoons on Turin territory, constituted a violation of international law and rights, and it was probably for this reason as well to cover the fact that Louis XIV had been hoodwinked by a daring adventurer, that a rumor was set on foot, declaring that Matthioli had met with an accident while traveling and had fallen down a precipice. His family scattered, and his wife withdrew permanently into the cloister named above. His father received a single letter from him, shortly after his mysterious disappearance, and heard nothing further up to the time he died, not knowing whether to consider his son dead or not.
     Two days after Matthioli had been placed in the prison, his personal valet arrived at Pinerolo, bringing everything of a personal nature that constituted Matthioli's baggage while he was staying in Turin. This servant had received a letter from Matthioli, written under the eyes of the prison officials, ordering him to bring these possessions to Pinerolo, but at the same time warning him to keep the whole matter confidential, under severe penalties! The baggage was searched but the documents were not found. Thereupon the governor of Pinerolo threatened Matthioli with the most severe tortures if he did not disclose the true hiding place of the papers, and under this threat, Matthioli weakened and told of their hiding place in a secret niche which was known only to himself and to his father. The prisoner was ordered to sit down and write a letter to his father, according to dictation, in which the father was requested to deliver the papers found in the secret spot to Giuliani, the bearer of the letter. The father, recognizing the handwriting of his son, had no other course open than to deliver the important documents, and ten days later they were safely in the hands of Pomponne, at Versailles. Here it was discovered that the Duke had not ratified the treaty at all and that therefore the kidnaping of Matthioli had not served its purpose.
     When the Duke of Mantua learned of the mysterious disappearance of his confidant, Matthioli, he was in a quandary. That his conscience regarding his actions in the whole matter was not quite clear, is evident from the desire which he showed at once to repudiate most of the statements made by Matthioli in his name at Versailles; he even went so far as to state that Matthioli had no authority to negotiate such a treaty and had exceeded his authorities as a minister when he represented himself as the ambassador of the Duke at Paris. He even insinuated that his signature on various papers had been forged, and that he had only given Matthioli passes for his proposed trip into France, and that Matthioli must have forged his signature to the letters of introduction and of authority which he showed to the French minister and to Louis XIV. When he was confronted with the report of D'Estrades covering the secret meeting in Venice, at which the Duke was present and at which he distinctly admitted that all of Matthioli's statements were correct and that he himself was in full accord with all that had been accomplished so far in this matter, he did not hesitate to brand the report of the ambassador as incorrect and even deliberately falsified.
     However, the French ambassador and the French court were not the kind of people to take such accusation without a vigorous defense, and the Duke was told to his face, by a special ambassador from Paris, that his statements were "balderdash," and that the King of France had the utmost confidence in his ambassador d'Estrades. The Duke was furthermore advised to draw up a new treaty along somewhat similar lines, but that in the meantime Louis XIV would consider the existing copy of the treaty as binding, being fully convinced of its genuineness. As far as Matthioli's fate was concerned, the Duke was perfectly willing to have him "disappear" forever.
     Upon his delivery at the prison at Pinerolo, Matthioli was entered in the records under the fictitious name of Lestang, as we learn from a letter written by Catinat to Louvois, May 3. 1679. Catinat, who presided at the first hearing which the prisoner obtained in Pinerolo, branded him as a cheat and a swindler of the worst type. D'Estrades suggested that the prisoner be treated with some consideration. and Catinat seconded the motion, by suggesting that as far as nourishment and cleanliness were concerned, Matthioli should be given all possible assistance, but that under no circumstances should he be permitted to communicate with any one in the outer world. Louvois, however, was not satisfied with this treatment of a man whom he despised, and ordered the governor to give him only the things absolutely necessary, but nothing that could render his life easier. He added that this order was given upon the special request of the King himself.
     We need hardly doubt that the governor followed these instructions to the letter and that the prisoner was not given the slightest chance of communicating with the outside world. (The letter of St.-Mars addressed to the Minister at Paris, quoted in the first part of this book, is sufficient evidence of how carefully he was guarded.) Matthioli was treated with great harshness during the first months of his captivity, so harsh indeed, that he stood in danger of losing his mind. On several occasions he threatened the governor with filing a complaint against him with the king, but the governor could afford to laugh at the threat, for nothing could be sent out by Matthioli without the governor's knowledge and permission. Matthioli became mentally deranged for a time, conversing aloud with the angels in heaven, and claiming to be a near relative of the king, who would find some chance of telling His Majesty just how miserably he was being treated by his underlings.
     In the archives of the French government we find a letter written by Louvois to St.-Mars, in which the former says: "I am really surprised at your great patience with this Matthioli, and that you are awaiting definite orders from Paris as to how to treat a rascally swindler like him, as he deserves to be treated when he dares to be disrespectful to you." On August, 1680, Louvois ordered that Matthioli be transferred to the lower tower (in which the "Reformed Church" minister and the Dominican monk were imprisoned) in order that the two clergymen might not have the chance to talk too much on religion and subjects of mutual interest. The order was carried out at once, and for the first few days, Matthioli was under the impression that the Dominican monk was a spy, placed into the room with him for the purpose of spying on him and of finding out things which the French government desired to know about his doings. Gradually Matthioli began to notice that the monk evidently was not in his right mind, and when he saw him one day get out of bed, stark naked. and deliver a sermon in a, loud voice, which did not contain a sensible thought or word, he became convinced that the man was completely insane.
     On October 26, 1680, St.-Mars wrote to the Minister that Lieutenant Blainvilliers had been compelled to threaten the prisoner with exemplary punishment, if he did not assume a more reasonable and sensible behavior. He was shown a heavy club and told that it would be the means of bringing certain people to their senses. Matthioli had been filling the air with insults and accusations against the King and Duke and everyone else connected with his imprisonment, and finally obtained a piece of coal somewhere with which he wrote satiric remarks upon the walls of the room. When he was shown the club he had become frightened and offered to the lieutenant the valuable diamond ring (which he had received from Louis XIV at Versailles the year previous) which he had managed to conceal up to that time. The officer accepted the ring, but turned it over to the governor, who wrote to Paris concerning it, and was told to keep it in trust for the prisoner until such time as "the king might be pleased to order his release." While there is a chance that this remark was not meant literally, yet it does seem to indicate that a release at some future time was not considered an impossibility during the first few years of Matthioli's confinement.
     As shown in the first part of this book, Matthioli was one of the three prisoners retained at Pinerolo, when de St.-Mars was transferred to Exiles; he was first in the custody of the new commander, Villebois, and later, on the death of the latter (1692) in that of his successor, Laprade. Letters written concerning Matthioli during the years 1682-1693 show that he still had a personal valet at that time, for we read that "both Matthioli and his servant are giving us continuous trouble by writing messages on the linings of their clothes whenever these are sent out to be cleaned or washed, and we were compelled to tear out the linings and order them burned. The last occasion on which Matthioli is mentioned in the official correspondence still on file, was on December, 1693, but his history is not by any means finished with this letter.
     In his search for official confirmation of the identity of Matthioli with the masked prisoner of the Bastille, Dr. Broecking cites an article in the August-September issue of the Histoire abrégée de l'Europe (1687). This article· contains a translation of an Italian pamphlet, printed in 1683, entitled La prudenza trionfante di Casale con l'armi sole di trattare e negociati politici delta M. Chr., in which the author attempts to sway public opinion in favor of Matthioli, although the name of this secretary of state is not mentioned in the pamphlet at all. There are also some inaccuracies in the story of the kidnaping, which, according to the Italian version, was accomplished in the following manner: "The Duke's minister of state was out hunting on Turin territory, when he was suddenly surrounded by a dozen horsemen, gagged, bound and carried to Pinerolo, a French fortress. It is charged by people who have knowledge of the interior working of the ways of diplomacy, that this minister was arrested by French troop's because he had worked against the interests of France in the transfer of Casale to the French government." It is of special interest in this connection to note that this story was printed less than three years after the arrest had taken place, and that fully thirty years passed before the general public began to take any interest in the masked prisoner.
     When the "Man in the Iron Mask"--as we shall call the prisoner once more according to the popular belief--was buried in the cemetery of St. Poul, du Junca discovered that his name was "Marchioly"--evidently a corruption of the Italian "Matthioli," which corruption is easily explained by the general inaccuracies of spelling names during the 17th and 18th centuries. That this is actually the case, is evidenced by the fact that the signatures of the two officials witnessing the burial (whose names in the official records and in documents are given as de Rosarges and Reilhe) signed their names as Rosage and Reglhe--and the same spelling is given on the death certificate made out by the authorities. The Italian name Marchioly, when pronounced in 18th century French, would naturally sound like Markhioly and from Markhioly to Matthioli is such a small step that the error is easily explainable. We also find that de St.-Mars occasionally wrote the name Marthioly in his correspondence, and once Marthioli.
     That this name is actually the right name of the masked prisoner, seems now perfectly clear; for let us suppose that the government desired to keep the identity of this mysterious prisoner a secret even after his death, would the officials not have chosen a common French name, such as Leblonc, Leger, Dupré, etc., rather than the very uncommon Italian name Marchioly--which would naturally have excited the curiosity of the attending priest and the cemetery officials? And if it had been the intention of Governor de St.-Mars to give the prisoner a fictitious name for his burial records, he would have chosen Lestang or La Tour--which was the designation of the prisoner during his stays at Pinerolo and at the island Ste. Marguerite, respectively. It seems therefore proven that the right name of the masked prisoner of the Bastille, was Matthioli, the former confidential minister of state of the Duke of Mantua.
     We spoke (on Page 40) of the possibility that Dauger might have been the masked prisoner, as he was the only one besides Matthioli, who had been in the custody of St.-Mars and was alive at the time of the transfer of the latter to the governorship of the Bastille. An examination into the history and antecedents of this Eustache Dauger should easily settle that point.
     Eustache Dauger was arrested as an accomplice of Roux de Marsilly, whose valet he was, when his master was charged with high treason against the king and France and ordered broken on the wheel in June, 1669. Dauger was condemned to life-imprisonment and had reason to be satisfied with his sentence. He was sent to Pinerolo and there kept in one of the lower dungeons of the castle, in a brick cell, which was very different from the rooms assigned to more important political prisoners, His treatment was in proportion to the indifference with which his guards regarded this former valet. About six years after his arrival at Pinerolo (in 1675) he was ordered to act as valet to Fouquet, who was received at that time in the prison at Pinerolo and who already had one valet, named La Rivière. When Fouquet died in the following year, all the little conveniences and privileges which had been Dauger's as valet to the once-powerful finance minister of Louis XIV, were rescinded and be was transferred back to his cell in the lower tower. Dauger was transferred to Exiles in 1681, when the governor himself was transferred to the latter place, but nothing in the records shows that Dauger was kept masked during this journey. On the other hand, it is told that Danger was carried in a litter, carefully closed on all sides with oilcloth, so that at the end of the trip be was almost suffocated from want of fresh air, and was sick for a long time.
     When Dauger was later transferred to the Bastille, he was thrown into a small brick cell, similar to the cachots of Pinerolo and treated with scant consideration. On the other hand, Matthioli was always treated with a certain respect, even after the reasons for his early close confinement had vanished with the passing years. People began to forget that there had been such a person in existence as Matthioli, and his friends and relatives had long given up all hope of discovering his fate.
     It would exceed the limits of one of these little booklets, were we to go still further into the official records dealing with the transfer and maintenance of Dauger and Matthioli during the years of their captivity. It does not seem possible that, after a careful examination of the available records, anyone could doubt the identity of Matthioli with the Man in the "Iron" Mask. And although such a solution of this long drawn-out mystery will undoubtedly meet with opposition on the part of those sentimental souls who have decided that the masked prisoner must have been a brother of the King of France, truth must prevail here, as it does everywhere else, in the end. It is probably a sad disappointment for those inclined to romance and brought up in the romantic tales of Alexandre Dumas and other French writers, that the famous masked prisoner in the Bastille was not an elder, nor a younger, nor a twin brother of the great Louis XIV, but simply the once powerful and absolutely conscienceless confidential minister of state of the Duke of Mantua--Antonio Ercole Matthioli.


Other Titles in Pocket Series

295 The Master Builder. Ibsen.
90 The Mikado. W. S. Gilbert.
316 Prometheus Bound. Aeschylos.
308 She Stoops to Conquer. Oliver Goldsmith.
134 The Misanthrope. Moliere.
99 Tartuffe. Moliere.
31 Pelleas and Melisande. Maeterlinck.
16 Ghosts. Henrik Ibsen.
80 Pillars of Society. Ibsen.
46 Salome. Oscar Wilde.
54 Importance of Being Earnest. O. Wilde.
8 Lady Windermere's Fan. O. Wilde.
131 Redemption. Tolstoy.
226 The Anti-Semites. Schnitzler.

Shakespeare's Plays
240 The Tempest.
241 Merry Wives of Windsor.
242 As You Like It.
243 Twelfth Night.
244 Much Ado About Nothing.
245 Measure for Measure.
246 Hamlet.
247 Macbeth.
248 King Henry V.
251 Midsummer Night's Dream.
252 Othello, the Moor of Venice.
253 King Henry VIII.
254 Taming of the Shrew.
255 King Lear.
256 Venus and Adonis.
257 King Henry IV. Part I.
258 King Henry IV. Part II.
249 Julius Caesar.
250 Romeo and Juliet.
259 King Henry VI. Part I.
260 King Henry VI. Part II.
261 King Henry VI. Part III.
262 Comedy of Errors.
263 King John.
264 King Richard III.
265 King Richard II.
267 Pericles.
268 Merchant of Venice.

336 Mark of the Beast. Kipling.
307 A Tillyloss Scandal. Barrie.
357 City of Dreadful Night. Kipling.
363 Miggles, etc. Bret Herte.
333 Mulvaney Stories. Kipling.
188 Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
352 Short Stories. William Morris.
332 The Man Who Was and Other Stories. Kipling.
280 The Happy Prince and Other Tales. Wilde.
143 In the Time of the Terror. Balzac.
182 Daisy Miller. Henry James.
162 The Murders in the Rue Morgue and Other Tales. E. A. Poe.
345 Clarimonde. Gautier.
292 Mademoiselle Fifi. De Maupassant.
199 The Tallow Ball. De Maupassant.
6 De Maupassant's Stories.
15 Balzac's Stories.
344 Don Juan and Other Stories. Balzac.
318 Christ in Flanders and Other Stories. Balzac.
230 The Fleece of Gold. Theophile Gautier.
178 One of Cleopatra's Nights. Gautier.
314 Short Stories. Daudet.
58 Boccaccio's Stories.
46 Tolstoi's Short Stories.
12 Poe's Tales of Mystery.
290 The Gold Bug. Edgar Allan Poe.
145 Great Ghost Stories.
21 Carmen. Merimee.
23 Great Stories of the Sea.
319 Comtesse de Saint-Gerane. Dumas.
38 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Stevenson.
279 Will o'the Mill; Markheim. Stevenson.
311 A Lodging for the Night. Stevenson.
27 Last Days of a Condemned Man. Hugo.
151 Man Who Would Be King. Kipling.
148 Strength of the Strong. London.
41 Christmas Carol. Dickens.
57 Rip Van Winkle. Irving.
100 Red Laugh. Andreyev.
105 Seven That Were Hanged. Andreyev.
102 Sherlock Holmes Tales. C. Doyle.
161 Country of the Blind. H. G. Wells.
85 Attack on the Mill. Zola.
156 Andersen's Fairy Tales.
158 Alice in Wonderland.
37 Dream of John Ball. William Morris.
40 House and the Brain. Bulwer Lytton.
72 Color of Life. E. Haldeman-Julius.
198 Majesty of Justice. Anatole France.
215 The Miraculous Revenge. Shaw.
24 The Kiss and Other Stories. Chekhov.
285 Euphorian in Texas. Geo. Moore.
219 The Human Tragedy. Anatole France.
196 The Marquise. George Sand.
239 Twenty-Six Men and a Girl. Gorki.
29 Dreams. Oliver Schreiner.
232 The Three Strangers. Thos. Hardy.
277 The Man Without a Country. E. E. Hale.

History, Biography
305 Machiavelli. Macaulay.
340 Life of Jesus. Ernest Renan.
183 Life of Jack London.
269 Contemporary Portraits. Vol 1. Frank Harris.
270 Contemporary Portraits. Vol 2. Frank Harris.
271 Contemporary Portraits. Vo1.3. Frank Harris.
272 Contemporary Portraits. Vol.4. Frank Harris.
328 Joseph Addison and His Times. Finger.
312 Life and Works of Laurence Sterne. Bowers.
324 Life of Lincoln. Bowers.
323 The Life of Joan of Arc.
339 Thoreau--the Man Who Escaped From the Herd. Finger.
126 History of Rome. A. F. Giles.
128 Julius Caesar: Who He Was.
185 History of Printing.
149 Historic Crimes and Criminals. Finger.
175 Science ot History. Froude.
104 Battle of Waterloo. Victor Hugo.
52 Voltaire. Victor Hugo.
126 War Speeches of Woodrow Wilson.
22 Tolstoy; His Life and Works.
142 Bismarck and the German Empire.
286 When the Puritans Were in Power.
343 Life of Columbus.
66 Crimes of the Borgias. Dumas.
287 Whistler; The Man and His Work.
51 Bruno; His Life and Martyrdom.
147 Cromwell and His Times.
236 State and Heart Affairs or Henry VIII.
50 Paine's Common Sense.
88 Vindication of Paine. Ingersoll.
33 Brann: Smasher of Shams.
163 Sex Life in Greece and Rome.
214 Speeches of Lincoln.
276 Speeches and Letters of Geo. Washington.
144 Was Poe Immoral? Whitman.
223 Essay on Swinbuine.
227 Keats. The Man and His Work.
150 Lost Civilization. Finger.
170 Constantine and the Beginnings of Christianity.
201 Satan and the Saints.
67 Church History H. M. Tichenor.
169 Voices From the Past.
266 Life of Shakespeare and Analysis of His Plays.
123 Life of Madame Du Barry.
139 Life of Dante.
69 Life of Mary, Queen of Scots. Dumas.
5 Life of Samuel Johnson. Macaulay.
174 Trial of William Penn.

291 Jumping Frog and Other Humorous Tales. Mark Twain.
18 Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow. Jerome.
166 English as She Is Spoke. Mark Twain.
231 Eight Humorous Sketches. Mark Twain.
205 Artemus Ward. His Book.
187 Whistler's Humor.
216 Wit of Heinrich Heine. Geo. Eliot.
20 Let's Laugh. Nasby.

349 Apology for Idlers, etc. R. L. Stevenson.
358 Virginibus Puerisque. R. L. Stevenson.
109 Dante, and Other Waning Classics, Vol. 1. Mordell.
110 Dante, and Other Waning Classics. Vol. 2. Mordell.
355 Aucassin and Nicelete. Lang.
278 Friendship and Other Essays. Thoreau.
195 Thoughts on Nature. Thoreau.
220 England in Shakespeare's Time. Finger.
194 Lord Chesterfield's Letters.
63 A Defense of Poetry. Shelley.
97 Love Letters of King Henry VIII.
3 Eighteen Essays. Voltaire.
28 Toleration. Voltaire.
89 Love Letters of Men and Women of Genius.
186 How I Wrote "The Raven." Poe.
87 Love, an Essay. Montaigne.
48 Bacon's Essays.
60 Emerson's Essays.
84 Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun.
26 On Going to Church. G. B. Shaw.
135 Socialism for Millionaires. G. B. Shaw.
61 Tolstoi's Essays.
176 Four Essays. Havelock Ellis.
160 Lecture on Shakespeare. Ingersoll.
75 Choice of Books. Carlyle.
288 Essays on Chesterfield and Rabelais. Sainte-Beuve.
76 The Prince of Peace. W. J. Bryan.
86 On Reading. Brandes.
95 Confessions of An Opium Eater.
213 Lecture on Lincoln. Ingersoll.
177 Subjection of Women. J. S. Mill.
17 On Walking. Thoreau.
70 Chas Lamb's Essays.
235 Essays. Gilbert K. Chesterton.