Tag Archives: Alexandre Dumas

iron man

So here begins a series of craft and research blogs I’m doing for various sites to publicize the paperback of Before Versailles. At the end, I’ll point you to sites that have giveaways of the paperback……………

The man in the iron mask in an intriguing story in the history of France. The person who brought it to light was the famous French philosopher and historian Voltaire. Legend is that when the Bastille was stormed during the French Revolution, a skeleton still wearing its iron mask and remnants of the clothing of Louis XIV’s time was found in a dungeon. There is no proof the discovery was true, but the tale reverberated. It’s a good story and was used by famed writer Alexandre Dumas as a tiny piece of his long plot in his saga of three musketeers. Dumas made the prisoner Louis XIV‘s twin brother. Voltaire conjectured that the prisoner was Louis XIV’s real father, though some sources say the man was a brother. All sources say there was indeed a prisoner who had to be treated with great respect, of whom no record or name was written down, who wore, perhaps, a black silk mask because no one was allowed to see his face. In the museum of Langres there is a simple iron mask on display which is said to be the mask the famous, unknown prisoner wore. Was the man a spy, a valet, a nobody, a king’s brother, a lover of a queen? No one knows the truth, and much speculation is based on letters and gossip that can’t be proved. But it is what I call a “yummy” story, one that directly connects to the time of Louis XIV, and my feeling was, if Dumas can use it in his fiction, so can I. I was glad to have it; it moved the plot of Before Versailles in a way I hadn’t anticipated and helped me form the character of Louise de la Baume le Blanc, or as she is better known, Louise de la Valliere.

For more detail, read The Man Behind the Iron Mask by John Noone.
This blog written for Broken Teepee, and there’s a giveaway.

true

“Every action, every item she writes about is incorrect,” a not-fan has posted on Amazon. Now that’s not quite fair. A lot of Before Versailles is true. But then again, to be fair,  some of it isn’t. Some is conjecture; some is guess; some of it is just out and out made up.

As far as I know, the boy in the iron mask wasn’t there. But my theory is, if Alexandre Dumas can play with tantalizing historical whatsit, so can I. There was something, a man in a silk mask, perhaps an iron mask. But no one knows who he was or why he was imprisioned. Voltaire conjectured that he was Louis XIV‘s real father. And the Mazarinades are absolutely true, word for word…..however…..I don’t know if they were secretly recopied and delivered to Louis in 1661. But it made for some great intrigue and gave me a wonderful way to explain his complex and treacherous past. And as for Louis’s real father….well, Voltaire–the literary light of the 18th century– thought there might be someone else other than Louis XIII, and there’s a contemporary scholar who has brought some proof forward that it’s possible Mazarin was in Paris at the right time. And the queen and king were estranged, not for a little bit, but for years. Years. And she committed treason the year of Louis’s conception. And the king was quite ill and preferred his own sex………so, forgive me if I put two and two together and get a number that could be four. And maybe the viscount and the lovely Princess de Monaco didn’t become lovers, but in my story world they couldn’t keep their hands off each other.  And I did make up the names of the pets and am most proud of Odalisque. O.K. I guess I just have to plead guilty. It’s true. I write fiction.