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835
IRON MASK


king's lieutenant at the Bastille, from which we learn that on the 18th of September 1698 a new governor, Bénigne D'Auvergne de Saint-Mars, arrived from the fortress of the Isles Ste Marguerite (in the bay of Cannes), bringing with him “ nn ancien prisonnier qu'il avait 5. Pignerol ” (Pinerolo, in Piedmont), whom he kept always masked and whose name remained untold. (Saint-Mars, it may here be notecQ|ad been commandant at Pignerol from the end of 1664 till 1681; he was in charge there of such important prisoners as Fouquet, from 166 5 to his death in 1680, and Lauzun, from 1671 till his release in 1681; he was then in authority at Exiles from 1681 to 1687, and at Ste Marguerite from 1687 to 1698). Du ]unca subsequently records that “ on Monday the 19th of November 1703, the unknown prisoner, always masked with a black velvet mask, whom M. de Saint-Mars had brought with him from the islands of Ste Marguerite, and had kept for a long time, . . died at about ten o'clock in the evening.” He adds that “ this unknown prisoner was buried on the 20th in the parish cemetery of Saint Paul, and was registered under a name also unknown ”-noting, in the margin that he has since learnt that the name in the register was “ M. de Marchiel. ” The actual name in the register of the parish cemetery of Saint Paul (now destroyed, but a facsimile is still in existence) was “ Marchioly ”; and the age of the deceased was there givenas “ about 4 5."

The identity of this prisoner was already, it will be observed, a mystery before he died in 1703, and soon afterwards we begin to see the fruit of the various legends concerning -him which presumably started as early as 1670, when Saint-Mars himself (see below) found it necessary to circulate “ fairy tales ” (conles jaunes). In 1711 the Princess Palatine wrote to the Electress Sophia of Hanover, and suggested that he was an English nobleman who had taken part in a plot of the duke of Berwick against William III. Voltaire, in his Siécle de Lowis XIV (17 51), told the story of the mysterious masked prisoner with many graphic details; and, under the heading of “ Ana” in the Questions sur Fencyclopédie (Geneva, 1771), he asserted that he was a bastard brother of Louis XIV., son of Mazarin and Anne of Austria. Voltaire's influence in creating public interest in the “ man in the maskl" was indeed enormous; he had himself been imprisoned in the Bastille in 1717 and again in 1726; as early as 1745 he is found hinting that he knows something; in the S iécle de Louis XIV he justihes his account on the score of conversations with de Bernaville, who succeeded Saint-Mars (d. 1708) as governor of the Bastille, and others; and after Heiss in 1770 had identified the “mask ” with Mattioli (see below), Voltaire was not above suggesting that he really knew more than he had said, but thought it sufficient to have given the clue to the enigma. According to the Abbé Soulavie, the duke of Richelieu's advice was to reflect on Voltaire's “last utterances” on the subject. In Soulavie's Mémoires of Richelieu (London, 1790) the masked man becomes (on the authority of an apocryphal note by Saint-llars himself) the legitimate twin brother of Louis XIV. In 1801 the story went that this scion of the royal house of France had a son born to him in prison, who settled in Corsica under the name of “ De Buona Parte, ” and became the ancestor of Napoleon! Dumas's Vicomle de Brogeloune afterwards did much to popularize the theory that he was the king's brother. Meanwhile other identifications, earlier or later, were also supported, in whose case the facts are a sufficient refutation. He was Louis, count of V ermanclois, son of Louise de la Valliére (Mémoiros secrets pour servir d l'h'isloi1'e de Parse, Amsterdam, 1745); Vermandois, however, died in 1683. He was the duke of Monmouth (Leltre de Sainte Foy . . . Amsterdam, 1768), although Monmouth was beheaded in 1685. He was Francois de Vendome, duke of Beaufort, who disappeared (and pretty certainly died) at the siege of Candia (1669); Avedick, an Armenian patriarch seized by the Jesuits, who was not imprisoned till 1706 and died in 1711; Fouquet, who undoubtedly died at Pignerol in 1680; and even, according to A. Loquin (1883), Moliérel ' ' 3

Modern criticism, however, has narrowed the issue. The “ man in the mask " was either (1) Count Mattioli, who became MASK 8 3 5

the prisoner of Saint-Mars at Pignerol in 1679, or (2) the person called Eustache Danger, who was imprisoned in July 1669 in the same fortress. The evidence shows conclusively that these two were the only prisoners under Saint-Mars at Pignerol who could have been taken by him to the Bastille in 1698. The arguments in favour of Mattioli (first suggested by Heiss, and strongly supported by Topin in 1870) are summed up, with much weight of critical authority, by F. Funck-Brentano in vol. lvi. of the R€'7)'ll»6 historique (1894); the claims of Eustache Danger were no less ably advocated by ]. Lair in vol. ii. of his Nicolas Foucquet (1890). But while we know who Mattioli was, and why he was imprisoned, a further question still remains for supporters of Danger, because his identity and the reason for his incarceration are quite obscure. 1

It need only be added, so far as other modern theories are concerned, that in 1873 M. lung (La. Vérilé sur la. mosque de fer) had brought forward another candidate, with the attractive name of “Marechiel, " a soldier of Lorraine who had taken part in a poisoning plot against Louis XIV., and was arrested at Peronne by Louvois in 1673, and saidto be lodged in the Bastille and then sent to Pignerol. But Jung's arguments, though strong destructively against the Mattioli theory, break down as regards an valid proof either that the prisoner arrested at Peronne was a Bastille prisoner in 1673 or that he was ever at Pignerol, where indeed we find no trace of him. Another theory, propounded by Captain Bazeries (La Jllasque de fer, 1883), identified the prisoner with General du Bulonde, punished for cowardice at the siege of Cuneo; but Bulonde only went to Pignerol in 1691, and has been proved/to be living in 1705. 3 The M attioli Theory.-Ercole Antonio Mattioli (born at Bologna on the 1st of December 1640) was minister of Charles IV., duke of Mantua, who as marquess of Montferrat was in possession of the frontier fortress of Casale, which was coveted by Louis XIV. He negotiated the sale of Casale to the French king 'for 100,000 crowns, and himself received valuable presents from Louis. But on the eve of the occupation of Casale by the French, Mattioli-actuated by a tardy sense of patriotism or by the hope of further gain-betrayed the transaction to the governments of Austria, Spain, Venice and Savoy. Louis, in revenge, had him kidnapped (1679) by the French envoy, ]. F. d'Estrades, abbé of Moissac, and Mattioli was promptly lodged in the fortress of Pignerol. This kidnapping of Mattioli, however, was no secret, and it was openly discussed in La Prudenza trizmfante di Casale (Cologne, 1682), where it was stated that Mattioli was masked when 'he was arrested. In February 1680 he is described as nearly mad, no doubt from the effects of solitary confinement. When Saint=Mars was made governor of Exiles in 1681 we know from one of his letters that Mattioli was left at' Pignerol; but in March 1694, Pignerol being about to be given up by France to Savoy, he and two other prisoners were removed with much secrecy to Ste Marguerite, where Saint-Mars had been governor since 1687. Funck-Brentano emphasizes the fact that, although Eustache Danger was then at Ste Marguerite, the king's minister Barbezieux, writing to Saint-Mars (March 20, 1694) about the transfer of these prisoners, says: “ You know that they are of more consequence (plus do consequence), at least one ” (presumably Mattioli), “than those who are at present at the island.” From this point, however, the record is puzzling. A month after his arrival at Ste Marguerite, a prisoner who had a valet died there! Now Mattioli undoubtedly had a valet at Pignerol, and nobody else at Ste Marguerite is known at this time to have had one; so that he may well have been the prisoner who died. In that case he was clearly not “ the mask ” of 1698 and 1703. Funck-Brentano's attempt to prove that Mattioli did not die in 1694 is far from convincing; but the assumption that he did' is inferential, and to. that extent arguable. “ Marchioly ” in the burial register of Saint Paul naturally suggests indeed at first that the “ ancien prisonnier ” taken by Saint-Mars to the Bastille in 1698 was Mattioli, Saint-Mars himself sometimes 1 Barbezieux. to Saint-Mars, May IO, 1694: “ ]'ai regu la lettre que vous avez pris la peine de rn'écrire l 29 du mois passé; vous pouvez, suivant que vous le proposez, fairefmettre dans la prison vontée le valet dn prisonnier qui est mort.” It may be noted that Barbezienx had recently told Saint-Mars to designate his prisoners by circumlocutions

in his currespontlence, and not by name.