Misconceptions Series: Email Follies, Part 3 Misconceptions Series: Email Follies, Part 4 Misconceptions Series: Email Follies, Part 5

Misconceptions Series:
Email Follies, Part 2

This is part II of this series, again using emails from the numerous aliases of Kenneth Walsh as examples of a certain class of distortion, for the benefit of readers. He had been declared persona-non-grata even in the lenient IJAS forum, which goes so far as to tolerate adolescents speculating as to whether Joan would have "hit it off" romantically with the nine-year old Henry VI and other profundities of this sort. Someone has to be truly extreme to lose favor with the IJAS forum.
While he no longer openly describes Joan as an "imbecile" as he once did, and has become less insistent on citing fictional books as "authoritative sources", he still persists in basing his views on information from sensationalistic authors such as Charles Wood and Roger Caratini - whose views are rejected not only by the historians who were considered experts on Joan of Arc by their colleagues, but even rejected by many or most members of the IJAS. The reasons will be seen below.

Here are some of his recent points: his quotes are in red, with notes in black and the historical facts explained beneath.

Issue #1:
He made the comment -

The fact you admit that the charge of witchcraft was dropped because of lack of evidence, argues against the belief that Joan's trial was unfair and English dominated - despite the fact that the English were obsessed that she was a witch and convicting Joan of witchcraft would tarnished [sic] the image of Charles 7 even more so. By the way, "conjuring up evil spirits' is only a minor part of the art of witchcraft.
It's frankly hard to know where to begin here, since the above thoroughly distorts the issues.
Firstly, Kenneth knows better than to refer (in the latter part of the above) to the fact that they did convict her of witchcraft-related charges (summoning demons) while simultaneously arguing (in the first part) that they entirely dropped all witchcraft-related charges; similarly, he should know better than to claim that "summoning demons" was considered "minor" compared to the other claims against her (such as the allegation that her banner was a magical charm): on the contrary, summoning demons was considered a far more serious offense, in fact one of the very worst of any possible accusations - a point that shouldn't need to be made. Thirdly: it is the modern pop books, not the English, which have been obsessed with the witchcraft portions of the accusations: the main charge leveled at her by the English was heresy - which the tribunal dutifully convicted her of. Fourthly: he's confusing or deliberately distorting previous comments made to him on this subject: it was merely noted that the tribunal was unable to find any excuse to justify their claim that she allegedly viewed her banner as "magical", etc, and these accusations were quietly phased out in favor of the gauzy claim that her saints were supposedly demonic, therefore she was "summoning demons", etc. No one claimed or implied to Kenneth that the tribunal dropped all the unproven charges: on the contrary, they merely replaced one set of unproven charges while emphasizing another set which was equally unsubstantiated. This brings us to the final point on this particular subject: as with other rigged trials in all periods of history, the fact that some of the fraudulent charges were dropped, while retaining other fraudulent claims to still provide a conviction, does not prove the "fairness" of the trial, but quite the opposite. It should be noted, as many historians have patiently pointed out over the years, that comprehensive scholarly studies of Inquisitorial transcripts have found that the standard procedure in other such trials was to call witnesses to provide evidence, which was never done during Joan's trial; and even during the worst periods of Inquisitorial prosecutions, as many as half of such cases were dropped entirely for lack of evidence - which was not done in Joan's case despite the lack of any witness evidence of any kind. In short, this was not a "fair" trial even by the standards of the period, and Kenneth truly knows better than to claim otherwise.
Moving on to the next subject:

Issue #2:

'The Church has about 6,000 canonized saints, according to a figure from your website. Assuming the art of canonization began about 2,000 years ago, 3 saints were canonized on the average every year for the last 2,000 eras [sic - years] or 1 every 4 months. So Joan's 489-year delay was extraordinarily long. In addition, the first plea to declare her a catholic martyr was first made until [sic] 438 years after her death, and this fact strongly argues against the contention that many viewed her as a saint for a long time after her death.
A number of misconceptions need to be cleared up here:
1) Examples of the delays associated with a sample of actual canonizations will be given below, but first a seemingly obvious point unfortunately needs to be made: you cannot simply divide the number of saints by the total number of years and then declare that the "average" saint is canonized only four months (!) after their death - a shorter length of time than the preliminary investigation itself normally takes. He's failing to account for obvious factors such as the enormous increase in canonizations only very recently: e.g., the current Pope has canonized more saints than the previous 500 years' worth of Popes combined, thereby skewing the "average" that he's trying to calculate. 2) To see the actual delay in typical cases, let's take a look at some specific examples, starting with a random sample using saints who happen to have the name "Agnes": it took 707 years to canonize St. Agnes of Prague, 409 years for St. Agnes of Montepulciano, 500 years for St Agnes of Assisi , etc. Moving on to other names, it took 400 years for St. Thomas More; Saint Hildegard still has officially only been beatified after 824 years; Saint (and Pope) Silverius was not first considered a saint until some 500 years after his reign as Pontiff; it took 561 years to beatify Angelus of Furci; etc, etc. These are remarkably similar to (and in some cases longer than) the official delay in canonizing Joan. 3) Finally, regarding her popular status as a saint, it needs to be noted that Joan had already been described as a martyr and saint in the 15th century - beginning with sources such as the Italian Pancrazio Giustiniani, who described her as such shortly after her liberation of Orleans in 1429, not to mention the supportive writings about her by the man who would become Pope Pius II in 1458; and she continued to be considered as such by the 16th century Catholic League (which used her as one of its symbols during the wars against Protestantism) and by many other Catholic sources throughout the period in question. This was already explained to Kenneth in the very article which he's responding to, but as usual he has ignored it.
In a similar vein, we have the next comment:

Issue #3:

'Joan was largely ignore [sic] by the Church for centuries. The fact is, my belief in the above is partly derived from information you sent me regarding such. You once asserted the Church largely ignored her for a long time, and now you say otherwise.
This apparently refers to a (heavily distorted version) of comments relating only to the delay in canonization, which is not the same as saying that the Church "ignored" her - as explained above, the latter is simply not the case. Again, he knows this perfectly well, as it has been explained to him repeatedly.
On a related issue:
'The reason she was largely ignored can be inferred in a selection of an essay on Joan in the 4/11/193[sic - 1903] edition of Harper's Weekly:
He then listed a highly selective portion of a version of the above article which he found on the web, while carefully leaving out the portions which explain the secular political motives that may have been behind the brief decision by a single committee (in 1903) to deny canonization - a decision which, after all, had been contradicted by previous rulings and would be overruled by the Vatican only a few years later.
A number of points need to be made:
1) He's citing one bureaucratic opinion among a great many that had been given on this issue, and erroneously using this anomalous opinion as the Church's "official" position.
2) The article itself mentions the circumstances surrounding this committee's decision: after French troops were withdrawn from protecting Rome, resulting in the Italian government's seizure of Vatican City, an anti-French attitude prevailed and - as the article notes - there was "hostility" to the request by the French Bishops that Joan should be canonized. Later, a different atmosphere was accompanied by a reversal of the decision.
3) Perhaps more importantly: the reasons given in the above article for denying the canonization request are easily proven false or disingenuous as well as contrary to the Church's other rulings: a) "Joan's" attack on Paris during a feast day was not her decision at all - the sources state that the other commanders were responsible for the timing (both sides made attacks on feast days during that war). b) The erroneous claim was made that "she was not a maid", although even Joan's enemies among the tribunal members conceded that she was in fact a "maid" (virgin), as the eyewitnesses say and as the Condemnation transcript reflects by the quiet disappearance of the allegations of "promiscuity" partway through the trial; c) Similarly for the claims about her alleged denial of her Divine mission in order to "escape death": as the Church itself (as well as historians) have otherwise always said, both "confessions" found in the Condemnation transcript are proven fraudulent by the other evidence. As the Harper's Weekly article itself notes, this single committee chose to be excessively and absurdly critical of Joan ("hypercritical" was the article's term), in defiance of the other rulings by the Church on the matter, by accepting any specious excuse they could think of to deny canonization. Normally, only the "Devil's Advocate" does this as his required function - as the name suggests, he's not supposed to be fair - whereas the deliberating committee is supposed to take a more reasoned look at the saint's life. The Vatican followed the more usual procedure when they canonized Joan in 1920.
In short, Kenneth is trying to support his views by using a selective quote from an article while ignoring what the rest of the same article says on the subject.
Similarly, we have the next issue:

Issue #4:

'The Catholic Church never accepted officially the supernatural nature of Joan's "voices". The reason is that is it [sic - "it is"] obvious that they were delusions and this fact can be ascertained by a careful analysis of the trial record. Since there was strong pressure on Joan's judges to prove her voices were diabolical, a decision not to could not have occurred unless there was overwhelming evidence that her "voices' had physical causations. This explains why the Church never officially accepted her "voices" as real.
Two points: 1) Farther above (in Issue #1), he alluded to the fact that Joan's judges did, in fact, claim her "voices" to have been of diabolical origin (that was the basis of their charge that she was "summoning demons" in Article XI), but he now switches tactics and claims that they never labeled them demons at all, allegedly believing them to be hallucinations instead. The latter conclusion is supposed to have been based on a "careful analysis" of the transcript, although even the most cursory reading would have led him to Article XI and the many other sections which present similar allegations that her visions were visitations by "demons". 2) He is using a distorted version of the verdict given by the pro-English tribunal as a justification for his claims about the modern Church's views, although he knows perfectly well that: I) the Vatican has rejected the Condemnation verdict entirely in a great many statements on the subject over the years; and II) he also knows, or should realize, that the Church does not canonize visionaries if they believe their visions to have been illusory.

Issue #5:

'Discrepancies among the four existing manuscripts, even though they are small albeit significant, are the results of unintentional translation "errors", and not enough to make them fraudulent. The 'errors" were in part due to each translator's style. Your [sic - "you"] quote testimonies to the contrary from the 1456 trial record but fail to admit the effect of time on memory and the influence of politics on the trial.
The above (which he has borrowed, seemingly verbatim, from certain pop authors) so thoroughly muddles the issue as to make it difficult to know where to begin.
1) The more important types of falsifications will be dealt with farther below, but first let's clear up the lesser of the two issues: the reason why historians consider the three (not four) original Latin copies of the transcript to have been mistranslated is because if you compare them to the original French minutes of the trial you will find consistent and glaring discrepancies on certain points, such as (for instance) when Joan's use of the specifically Christian term "Nostre Seigneur" was persistently converted to more ambiguous terms like "Deus" - a "mistake" that even a first-year Latin student would not make and which could therefore have only been done deliberately, especially given the great frequency of this "mistake". 2) Secondly and more importantly: the worst falsifications in the Condemnation transcript - as has been explained to Kenneth before - are the invented "confession" at the end and the frequent omissions; and historians accept the witnesses' statements on these issues for the same reason they accept the details provided by the witnesses at the Nuremberg trials: just as with the latter testimony, for which many specific details cannot be independently confirmed but are nevertheless accepted because the witnesses are proven credible on so many other issues, we can similarly establish the credibility of the Rehabilitation witnesses by the fact that they are consistently confirmed by other sources wherever such evidence is available. To wit: a) concerning their statements about the final "confession" entered into the transcript, it can be seen in the Condemnation manuscripts themselves that this section was in fact never signed by either witnesses or notaries (in violation of medieval procedure), and did not appear until eight days after Joan was already dead (a posthumous confession?) - just as the Rehabilitation witnesses later said when explaining why it was regarded as dubious at best. Kenneth used to claim that these witnesses are lying, by inventing the idea that this section of the transcript "must" contain signatures after all - although if he had ever actually viewed these manuscripts he would have seen that there are in fact no signatures present on those pages. b) The general credibility of these witnesses (which Kenneth has also tried to deny as a means of rejecting all of their comments) is established by the fact that their important points on all fronts are corroborated by source after source [click here for specific details]. Just as with the Nuremberg witnesses, this merits them status as "credible unless specifically proven otherwise" - meaning that when they give consistent and detailed descriptions of the deliberate omission of certain crucial statements made by Joan during the trial - statements which would have exonerated her but which were conveniently left out of the documents - it would be dishonest to summarily reject such testimony without presenting anything to actually prove it false. No one has ever put forward any concrete evidence disproving the statements in question. 3) Concerning the next issue he brought up in his above quote, we again have Kenneth's standard claim that "the effect on memory" would cause the witnesses' testimony to be suspect - despite the abovementioned confirmation on so many points by outside sources, and despite the fact that the passage of time was actually less than that for some of the trials of Nazi leaders - some of which took place some 50 years after the fact. If Kenneth was consistent, he would have to dismiss the memories of the witnesses at these trials as well. 4) Finally, we have another standard claim that the Rehabilitation was politically-motivated and therefore entirely untrustworthy. Several points could be made here: firstly, historians don't even agree on what the political agenda might have been (unlike the case with the Condemnation trial), since, for example, there is evidence that Charles VII was reluctant to go beyond the initial investigation in 1450, and could not have been overly happy with the mud that was dredged up pertaining to the conduct of people associated with his own government: Inquisitor Brehal's criticisms were not confined only to condemning the English. Nor was Brehal a slavish lackey of Charles VII: he had spent the war as a member of an English-run institution and was therefore not exactly a staunch Armagnac (some of the others were, but not the chief Inquisitor who actually handed down the ruling). Additionally, he called for opinions from theologians from throughout Europe, including foreigners such as Leonhard von Brixenthal, Paul Pontanus and Theodore de Leliis. Secondly: if the Rehabilitation is to be seen as biased simply because it was a postwar investigation with participants drawn partly from the victorious side, then Kenneth would have to say the same about the Allied-run, postwar Nuremberg trials. Few people would claim that this "Allied bias" would fatally taint the testimony itself. Finally and most importantly, if even Anglo-Burgundian sources confirm so much of the testimony, as noted above, then it should hardly need to be stated that any issues of bias are irrelevant to the essential credibility of the evidence itself. Bias can be invoked to explain information which is contradicted by other sources, but obviously not as a means of rejecting evidence which is solidly confirmed by sources from both sides.
On a final issue:

Issue #6:

'The entire testimony that Marguerie made was the following: "MAÎTRE ANDRE MARGUERIE, Archdeacon: First Examination, May 9th, 1452. Further examined, December 19th, 1455, and May 12th, 1456. I heard Jeanne say, that she would believe neither Prelate nor Pope nor any other in [contradiction to] what she had received from God. I think this was one of the reasons why she was proceeded against, so that she should recant. I was present at the final preaching but not at the execution, for very pity of the deed. Many of those present wept, among others the Cardinal de Luxembourg, then Bishop of Therouanne. I know nothing about her devotions; but she said, " Rouen, Rouen, must I die here?" I can well believe that some of the English acted from hate and fear, but of the more notable ecclesiastics I do not think this. A chaplain of the Cardinal of England, present at the first preaching, said to the Bishop of Beauvais, that he was showing too much favor to Jeanne; but the Bishop said to him, "You lie! For in such a case I would show favor to no one." The Cardinal of England reproved his chaplain and told him to be silent. " He testified, "she (Joan) would believe neither Prelate nor Pope nor any other in [contradiction to] what she had received from God. I think this was one of the reasons why she was proceeded against, so that she should recant."
So taking Marguerie's word for it, Joan would have not submitted to the Pope, making her a proto-protestant.
Two points: 1) First of all, Kenneth should know better than to claim (yet again) that this is Marguerie's "entire" testimony: it's merely the brief excerpt that he found on this very site, which was extracted from the four pages of Marguerie's full testimony, as was explained to him before. The full testimony can be seen in DuParc's series, for example. 2) Secondly and more importantly: Marguerie's claim about Joan's alleged refusal to submit to the Pope is contradicted by the majority of the other Rouen witnesses, including Manchon, Taquel, Bouchier, Houppeville, du Desert, Cusquel, de la Pierre, Ladvenu, Grouchet, Miget, LeFevre... etc, etc, who repeatedly and consistently say that she did in fact submit to the Pope. He's taking one witness who is contradicted by most of the rest, and pretending that this anomalous view "disproves" the majority rather than the other way around.
Kenneth cannot possibly be fooling many people with this type of stuff: since he has never read anything except what he can find in readily-obtainable sources, he routinely makes the mistake of declaring that his own brief reading on the subject is "all that there is", and he'll try to stick to this claim even with regard to excerpts on sites written by the very people he's arguing with (to see why he's trying to insist that the above is the "entire" testimony from Marguerie, see his previous comments in Part I of this series). This type of surreal reasoning unfortunately has been the norm in his arguments, and (more importantly) also the norm in a great many pop books on the subject which he's using as his sources. Such tactics are being presented and addressed here for the benefit of others who may come across them or similar arguments.

Thus ends this installment.

Misconceptions Series: Email Follies, Part 3 Misconceptions Series: Email Follies, Part 4 Misconceptions Series: Email Follies, Part 5