The man at the centre of one of history’s greatest mysteries has finally been unmasked.
For centuries, historians have failed to discover who the ‘Man in the Iron Mask’ was. However, at long last one expert claims to have solved the mystery.
Although his name, Eustache Dauger, is well-known university professor Paul Sonnino said he knows his backstory and the reason for his arrest.
The author said the mystery man was the valet to the treasurer for Cardinal Mazarin – the Chief Minister in France at the time.
He was arrested in 1669 and held in jail until his death in 1703, never revealing his face to visitors.
Mr Sonnino, whose book The Search for the Man in the Iron Mask: A Historical Detective Story has just been published, said: “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.
“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.”
Historians have never uncovered his story, Mr Sonnino said, because they were looking for too clear cut a narrative. The truth, he said, was far more tangled and bizarre.
He said: “[Historians] insist on making it antiseptic, moralistic, sensible.
“Life does not make sense. Humans are much more complicated than that.”
He also explained his belief that, despite his nickname, Dauger never wore an iron mask.
He said: “He only occasionally wore the mask and that when he did wear a mask, it was velvet, not iron.”
There have been countless other unproved theories as to the prisoner’s identity, with one particularly exciting belief theorising the man was King Louis XIV’s brother.
Dauger’s story has been popularised by the Leonardo di Caprio film ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’, which was released in 1998.