How Men of God Made Me Poison People

I don’t know about you, but I’m wondering about those Dominicans Jehannin met–the ones who convinced him to toss some mysterious packets of poison into wells and fountains. In Jehannin’s first confession, he’s pretty darn certain they’re friars. Second time around, he’s not so sure, careful to state that the men were dressed as Dominicans.

Why the change?

The case doesn’t give us a lot to go on. Maybe Jehannin honestly didn’t know. Maybe I’m reading too much into a rather slight change in phrase.

I think it’s more than that, though. I think there’s an element of CYA that’s going on here.

First confession: the CYA is to say that he’d been doing what some Dominicans asked. And you know, Dominicans are men of God, so who is Jehannin to speak against them? After all, they encountered him when he was already on pilgrimage to Notre-Dame du Puy, so perhaps they were heaven-sent.

Picture of the cathedral Notre Dame du Puy
Notre Dame du Puy as it looks today

Except that tactic doesn’t work. The court at Tours, where he’s first interrogated, wants to see him executed for well-poisoning.

Pulling up his metaphorical pants, Jehannin tries again in Paris, in his second confession. He abandons trying to make his mistake the fault of divinely-oriented forces, and turns to the diabolical. In my next ruminations on Jehannin, I’ll tackle his claim that the Devil made him do it.

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