In his letter, Louvois informed Saint-Mars that a prisoner named "Eustache Dauger" was due to arrive in the next month or so.Louvois instructed Saint-Mars to prepare a cell with multiple doors, one closing upon the other, which were to prevent anyone from the outside listening in.
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Historians have noted that the name Eustache Dauger was written in a handwriting different from that used in the rest of the letter's text, suggesting that a clerk wrote the letter under Louvois' dictation, while someone else, very likely Louvois himself, added the name afterwards.
Dauger was arrested by Captain Alexandre de Vauroy, garrison commander of Dunkirk, and taken to Pignerol, where he arrived in late August.
Evidence has been produced to suggest that the arrest was actually made in Calais and that not even the local governor was informed of the event – Vauroy's absence being explained away by his hunting for Spanish soldiers who had strayed into France via the Spanish Netherlands.
The Man in the Iron Mask (French: L'Homme au Masque de Fer; c.
1640 – 19 November 1703) is the name given to an unidentified prisoner who was arrested under the name "Eustache Dauger" in 1669 or 1670 and subsequently held in a number of French prisons, including the Bastille and the Fortress of Pignerol (modern Pinerolo, Italy).
He was held in the custody of the same jailer, Bénigne Dauvergne de Saint-Mars, for a period of 34 years.
He died on 19 November 1703 under the name "Marchioly", during the reign of Louis XIV of France (1643–1715).
Since no one ever saw his face because it was hidden by a mask of black velvet cloth, the true identity of the prisoner remains a mystery even today; it has been extensively debated by historians, and various theories have been expounded in numerous books and films.
Writer and philosopher Voltaire claimed in the second edition of his Questions sur l'Encyclopédie (published in 1771) that the prisoner wore a mask made of iron rather than of cloth, and that he was the older, illegitimate brother of Louis XIV.