The Man in the Iron Mask was a mysterious historical figure solely known for being arrested on unknown charges in France circa 1669. He was imprisoned until his death, and his identity has been a mystery for more more than three centuries. Nobody knew who he was since he had to wear a mask. A professor at the University of California claims he finally uncovered his real identity.
Professor Paul Sonnino from the University of California at Santa Barbara has published a book about the real identity of the masked man. He conducted extensive research and reached a surprising conclusion.
The mysterious man was arrested in 1669, after which he was kept in several French prisons, including the notorious Bastille. He died in 1703, after spending more than three decades in confinement.
According to Professor Sonnino, most historians agree that the man's real name was Eustache Dauger. However, according to research, the mask he wore was made of black velvet and not iron at all.
French philosopher and writer Voltaire speculated that the masked prisoner was King Louis XIV's illegitimate older brother. The Three Musketeers' writer Alexander Dumas presented the prisoner as the King's identical twin.
Historians are pretty sure that Eustache Dauger was a valet. However, they were unable to determine whose servant he was and why he was incarcerated for over three decades.
Professor Sonnino's research has revealed that Eustache was a valet for the treasurer of Cardinal Mazarin. He was the Prime Minister of France at the time.
Accusations of Theft
The professor has further speculated the reason behind his imprisonment. Eustache could have spoken out about the cardinal's sudden increase in wealth. He could have witnessed something illegal.
Apparently, Cardinal Mazarin had managed to steal money from the previous English monarchs and was afraid that someone might rat him out.
So it makes sense that the person who could speak out about the Cardinal's wealth turned out to be the unfortunate valet.
Eustache Daumer was threatened that he would be murdered on the spot if he ever revealed his true identity to anyone.
The legend of the Man in the Iron Mask was portrayed in the 1998 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Veil of Mystery
If the findings are true, and with the mystery finally resolved, the question remains: why was it kept a secret for so long? Professor Sonnino blames historians for insisting on moralistic approaches.