"I hear that the Princess agreed to see the stranger and sent him to her brother with a letter of reference? This is absolutely unbelievable!" Marcel Pagnol

In the 60's, Marcel, who had always been a history lover, immersed himself in the Iron Mask mystery. He was convinced that his work as a historian would lead him to go down in history more than his novels or films would.

Le masque de fer ("The Iron Mask")

Historical essay. Monte-Carlo, Pastorelly, 1964. Revised publication under the title Le Secret du Masque de fer ("The Secret of the Iron Mask"), ibid., 1973.

First Edition

Paris, Editions de Provence, 1964.


Conscientious and highly documented historical study on the mysterious character imprisoned for life by Louis XIV. Helped by some Academician friends working in Vatican, Marcel Pagnol thought he had penetrated the mystery: the Iron Mask was nobody but the king's twin brother, which explained such relentlessness and the mask concealing a face identical to the royal face. Published in 1965, Marcel Pagnol rewrote it in 1973 under the title "LE SECRET DU MASQUE DE FER" ("THE SECRET OF THE IRON MASK") as he had found additional elements to support his thesis.

The king finds it reasonable that you travel from the islands to the Bastille with you former prisoner, taking the necessary precautions to keep him unseen and unknown to everyone." So the face is a famous one and the above letters include a very noteworthy sentence. The day before departure for the Bastille, the minister wrote: "Taking the necessary precautions to keep him unseen and unknown to everyone." One can think that the word "unknown" might here be understood as "unidentified". At school, we read in our philosophy books: "To know is to identify." Furthermore, saying that this man is known may be not enough. This face being hidden behind the mask and in a litter as soon as he approaches the outskirts of Paris, being unrevealed to Lauzun, to du Junca and to the doctor in Bastille, proves that such face is certainly known in Paris. It being so cautiously hidden from the old priest of Exiles, from sentries, escort guards, provençal peasants we might come across on the journey between Exiles and Sainte-Marguerite, being hidden from the peasants in Le Palteau, proves that such face is a famous one. In a time deprived of photographs, illustrated papers, films and television, the only face that could be identified anywhere by anybody was the king's, as everyone could find it in one's pocket on coins.