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Mysterious ‘Man in the Iron Mask’ Revealed….350 Years Later

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 17:43
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A 350-year-old French mystery has been unmasked: In his new book, Paul Sonnino, a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, claims he has uncovered the real identity of the mysterious Man in the Iron Mask.

The Man in the Iron Mask was a prisoner arrested in 1669 and held in the Bastille and other French jails for more than three decades, until his death in 1703. His identity has been an enduring mystery because, throughout his imprisonment, the man’s face was hidden by a mask, according to Sonnino. The story was even popularized in the 1998 film “The Man in the Iron Mask,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

It’s a mystery that evaded even famed philosopher Voltaire and writer Alexandre Dumas. Historians have discounted the theory popularized by Voltaire and Dumas that the masked man was the twin brother of Louis XIV, according to Sonnino.

“They [historians] are pretty much in agreement that his name was Eustache Dauger, that he only occasionally wore the mask and that when he did wear a mask, it was velvet, not iron,” Sonnino said in a statement. “They are also quite sure that he was a valet. What they have not been able to figure out is whose valet he was, and for what possible reason he was held under tight security for over 30 years.”

In “The Search for the Man in the Iron Mask: A Historical Detective Story” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), Sonnino leads the reader through historical records, correspondence regarding the prisoner and other aspects of his investigation.

Through his research, Sonnino determined that Dauger was a valet for the treasurer of Cardinal Mazarin, who was principal minister of Franceduring Louis XIV’s early life. Mazarin accumulated a large fortune, and Sonnino believes the valet thought that some of the money was stolen.

“What I was able to determine was that Mazarin had ripped off some of his huge fortune from the previous king and queen of England …” Sonnino said. “Dauger must have blabbed at the wrong time. He was informed, when arrested, that if he revealed his identity to anyone, he would immediately be killed.”

As for why the Man in the Iron Mask’s identity has remained veiled throughout history, Sonnino said the blame lies with historians, who “insist on making it antiseptic, moralistic, sensible.”

“Life does not make sense,” Sonnino continued. “Humans are much more complicated than that.”


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  • El

    Dauger was a distant relative of mine, and also a relative of the King of France. The Family Auge, who changed their names numerous times, especially in France in the middle ages, because the word Auger, meant Seer or Prophet, and that could get you killed. The Auge clan had titles, mostly Dukes, or Knights, some younger ones having to work their way up to a title. Many were very wealthy, but it was always the elder son that got the lions share, so the younger brothers figured ways to get their own land. My line left France around 1450, but many stayed. The Auge family began as traders world wide, moving from Mesopotamia around 2600 BC to Crete, to Sardinia where the name Auger was used first instead of Augeas in Crete who was King of a couple of Islands, and alive during the time of King Minos. St. Augustine of Hippo was an Auge clan member, as were the Roman Auralians considered the good emperors. To make a long story short, the clan lived in Celtica for a while intermarried with the lost tribe of Dan, and became a part of the Viking and Germanic tribes. They then went trading all over the place some more and settled in Norway , Denmark and Iceland. My Auge family has as a great grandfather, I don’t know how many greats, sorry, still working on that, Hrollaug the elder half brother of Rollo and Ragnar. all three were Ragnvaldsson. Hrollaug was an adult when Rollo and Ragnar were born. When Rollo became Duke of Normandy by agreeing to become a Christian, and marrying the kings daughter, my Hrollaug became a Duke too. that is how all the Auge clan became Dukes in Normady France, and their language was called Augeron. The Dauger name was probably a combination of the D for Dan and the Auger name. Some records call Hrollaug Hrollauger. Dauger, could easily have been a valet for the Cardinal himself or the King, since he was family, and young men worked their way up the ladder of success that way too. I have seen no proof that he wore a soft mask at all. But it is possible because his prison area was quite nice all things considered. That indicated he was someone important himself, a valet would not have been given a room with murals on the wall, a toilet and furniture. He himself had a valet who stayed with him in the prison. and that is the sum of what I know.

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