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The Man In The Iron Mask - Essay Example

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1 The myth of The Man in the Iron Mask is one that is over a hundred years old and yet remains to be one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the centuries. There is a great debate that has been raging on for ages regarding the authenticity or validity of the story that seems to take on various shapes and themes dependent upon the person one is speaking to at the time…
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The Man In The Iron Mask
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"The Man In The Iron Mask"

Download file to see previous pages The one constant in the history of the myth seems to be the fact that he was indeed a prisoner in the Bastille and that his name was never revealed. Even upon his death the true name of the prisoner was left in question. The only reality of this particular prisoner's situation, is that he became the most famous and mysterious historical prisoner of his era thanks to the literary works of both Voltaire and Alexander Dumas who both christened him the “Man in the Iron Mask”. The historical records of the era within which the masked man was supposed to have been imprisoned in the Bastille seem to indicate that the man in question was of a noble status in life. Reports indicate that he arrived at the Bastille on a Thursday, September 18, 1698 under the protection of the newly assigned governor of the Bastille, Benigne d'Auvergne de Saint-Mars who described the prisoner as a long time prisoner who went with him to his various assignments. The man was to remain masked and his name was never to be recorded in the official records. i According to Saint Mars' official records the man without a name or face was imprisoned in Pignerol at the start. He had been a prisoner for 18 years by the time he arrived at the Bastille, having been earlier 2 imprisoned from 1665 to 1681. There is a supposition that he had already been a prisoner for about 33 years at this point. It was during this time of his arrival at the Bastille that the first mention of a velvet, not iron mask was made in reference to the prisoner's face being covered. One of the wilder theories regarding the Man in the Iron mask is that he was the descendant of Napoleon Bonaparte. This was a claim that was made by Napoleon himself during his many military quests. Claiming that his father was the elder half brother of the king and therefore the rightful heir to the throne. Thus his imprisonment behind the mask. He propagated the theory that the man behind the mask was allowed to marry while in prison and the union begot a son who was sent off to be raised in Corsica, that child was to become Napoleon Bonaparte. This however, is a theory that does not have any evidence to back it up as anything more than the claim of a mad man to a throne he wished to call his own. ii In order to understand the propagation of the myth, one has to first understand the kind of sociopolitical situation that was existing in France in the 1660's. The so-called “Sun King” Louis XIV had an absolute hold on political power and government at a time when his people were being ravaged by high taxes, food shortage, and a lack of guidance from their king. The war and religious unrest was also taking its toll on the economic situation of the country. The people were starved for hope of a better life in the hands of a king who once stated "L'etat, c'est moi!" ("I am the state!"). With such control over state affairs in the hands of one man, it is believed that anybody who fell out of favor with the king ended up imprisoned for the rest of his life. Could the man in the mask be one of those people? What error could he have committed to have earned him such damnation in the eyes of the king? One of the 3 many theories about the masked stranger is that he was most likely one of the many nobles who had fallen out of favor with ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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