IRON MASK, The Man with the, a famous personage who was kept a prisoner in two or three French prisons in the time of Louis XIV, and who excited a curiosity correspond ing to the care with which his identity was con cealed. His first prison was the castle of Pig nerol, of which Saint-Mars was governor. In 1686 he was carried by Saint-Mars to the isles of Saint Marguerite; and the same precautions were observed as upon his first journey. Saint Mars having been appointed governor of the Bastile in 1698, carried the prisoner with him there, but still masked. An apartment had been prepared for him more convenient, and furnished with more care than those of the other unfortunate beings who inhabited this sad abode. He was not permitted to take off his mask even before his physician. In other re spects the greatest attention was shown him, and nothing which he requested was refused him. His education appeared to have been carefully attended to; and he amused his leisure by read ing, and playing upon the guitar. This unknown person died 19 Nov. 1703, at 10 o'clock in the evening, without having undergone any severe sickness. He was buried the next day in the afternoon in the cemetery of the church of Saint Paul. He was, it was said, about 60 years of age, although the register of burials for the church of Saint Paul, in which he is mentioned under the name of Marchiali, makes him only about 45. It is said that orders were given to burn everything which had been employed in his service; that the walls of the chamber which he had occupied were rubbed down and white washed; and that the precautions were carried so far, that the tiles of his room were removed, in the fear that he might have displaced some of them to conceal a letter behind them. Con jecture exhausted itself to discover who this mysterious personage might be.
At the time of the destruction of the Bastile, in July 1789, there were not wanting curious persons, who sought, in the archives of this fortress, to discover some notices which might throw light upon this historical problem. But to no purpose. A widely-accepted conjecture was first thrown out in a letter written in 1770 by Baron D'Heiss to the Journal Encyclopidi que. According to this view the Man with the Iron Mask was Count Girolamo Magni, or Mat tioli, first minister of the Duke of Mantua, who had betrayed the interests of Louis XIV by failing to secure for him, as he had pledged himself to do, in consideration of a large bribe, possession from his master of the fortress of Casale. For this offense he was lured to the
French frontier, secretly arrested and im prisoned in the fortress of Pignerol in 1679. The secret was preserved so carefully, on the supposition that Mattioli was the prisoner, be cause his seizure and detention were flagrant violations of international law. In a more re cent investigation by M. Jung, Write sur le Masque de Fer> (1873), an attempt is made to identify the Mask with a gentleman of Lor raine, who was connected with an association for the assassination of Louis. Others at vari ous times have tried to prove that he was a twin brother of Lon,- XIV, a natural son of the king, the English Duke of Monmouth, etc. • Funck-Brentano in revived the view that Mattioli the mysterious prisoner, and many now conmder the controversy settled and this view established. Much of the material on which all the books, written in large numbers on this subject, are h.tsed is purely conjectural and it is doubtful if the true facts will ever be established. Around the story of the Mask, Dumas built one of his novels, Wistomte de Consult Barnes, A. S„ Man of the (London 1908); Briicking, W., 'Zur Forschung fiber die Eiserne Maske> (in Historische Vierteljohrschrift, Vol. XV, p. 363, Leipzig 1904) ; Delort, J.,' de l'Homme au Masque de Fer> (Paris 1825) ; id., 'Histoire de la Detention des (3 vols., Paris 1829) ; Funck-Brentano, F. au Masque de Velours Noir lift le Masque de Fer> (in Revue Historique, Vol. LVI, Paris 1894) ; Hopkins, T., (The Man in the Iron Mask) (New York 1901) • Jung, M., Verite sur la Masque de Fee (Paris 1873) ; • Lair, J., (Nicolas (Vol. II, Paris 1890) ; Lang, (The Valet's Tragedy) (London 1903); Loise leur, J. Enigmes Historiques) (Paris 1882) ; Roux-Fazillac, P., Histori-• ques sur l'Homme au Masque de Fer> (Paris 1801) ; Topin, M., 'L'Homme au Masque de Fer> (Paris 1870) ; Voltaire, de Louis XIV) (Paris 1751).