For this installment, we have yet another revision of the essay he wrote recently as a student - this time arguing that St. Thomas Aquinas and his "Summa Theologica" - the chief Catholic theological treatise - are allegedly "heretical", therefore Joan was guilty of heresy for following these teachings; plus some comments made in recent emails declaring that Joan never lifted the siege of Orleans because it was allegedly not under siege, and many other such 'howlers'. Although most other people have simply dismissed this stuff with a laugh - or, as with Dr. Ansgar Kelly, have merely noted that it's "hopeless" to try to reason with him - this article will nevertheless address his arguments since some of these are based on underlying assumptions which in some cases are (unfortunately) fairly frequent misconceptions, and which therefore should be debunked in a methodical fashion. It should also be noted that his arguments follow an all-too common tactic - which also needs to be exposed - of stringing together clips from various authors in order to present the illusion of learned expertise, without taking into account that some of these clips are mutually contradictory or absurdly ignorant of the subject. This is especially evident in the initial excerpts below:
First off, we have a selection of quotes all dealing with the subject of Aquinas' "Summa Theologica":
This essay will demonstrate that Joan's defiance of the Church Militant (Roman Catholic Church hierarchy) is consistent with St. Aquinas' dictum " it is better to die excommunicated by the clergy and [sic - he means 'than'] to go against one's conscience" - a radical teaching of this "Santus [sic - "Sanctus"] Doctor" which the Church Militant never accepted or added to it's [sic] official depository of creed ... The previous quote comes from his "Summa Theological" [sic - "Theologica"] [...] Aquinas' "Summa Theological" [sic] forms the basis of Catholic theology.The above has undoubtedly caused a few jaws to drop. Let's try to sort it out in the following four points:
If Joan's perception was that the Pope would have given her a fairer trial, then her perception was wrong. No pope in the early 15th century would have done anything to offend the EnglishHe now makes the curious statement that the Pope himself was subservient to the English and therefore disposed to convict anyone they wanted to kill - while simultaneously claiming (in all his other statements) that no pro-English bias could have tainted the proceedings at any level. The former argument is being made because it's a convenient (if ironic and dishonest) means of trying to dismiss Joan's appeal to the Pope in the absence of any other argument to make, and again he seems to be borrowing the above from various authors without paying much attention to the context or implications.
The fact that the medieval Catholic Church, through its officially and papal approved organ of terror - the Inquisition, sent millions of excommunicated heretics who obeyed their consciences, to the stake ... proves that the Church Militant apparently disagreed with Aquinas on one of his essential articles of faith.Aside from the issue of Aquinas' (and the Church's) actual doctrine covered above, it should be noted that - as many historians have patiently pointed out over the years - comprehensive scholarly studies of Inquisitorial transcripts have found that the popular perception of these trials is entirely false: 1) large percentages of these trials - up to half, even during some of the worst periods - resulted in acquittal, and the penalties in cases of a conviction generally were in the form of a penance such as fasting, almsgiving, or wearing a cross as a sign of renewed faith, etc, rather than prison or execution. 2) The actual number of executions, during some 800 years, numbered in the thousands, not "millions" - a fictitious statistic without any historical basis. The above is well known and accepted among historians: it's only in the pop version of the subject that executions become the "norm", and in which a hooded "Grand Inquisitor" claims absolute authority as God Incarnate. Kenneth is merely peddling stereotypes and using them to back up his claim that Cauchon and his cronies were allegedly abiding by the "typical" Inquisitorial procedure. In truth, they were violating the normal procedure and abusing their authority.
That the English dominated her trial and [sic] can be logically disproved. The only direct "evidence" that the English were involved in her trial comes from receipts showing that the English crown paid for a small part of the finances of the trial. Such is not conclusive evidence since the Burgundian clerics wee [sic] already on the payrolls of the English crown long before the trial began and the English Crown were obliged to reimburse the clerics for any expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.Many points could be made, including: 1) Kenneth is merely taking the selection of such receipts which were cited by the website in question as a small number of examples (as the website itself notes); he then assumes that this is "all there is", then declares that this "proves" that the English only paid a "small number" of the expenses, etc. This is particularly ironic given that these selected examples included the chief members - Cauchon, LeMaitre, etc - who were part of the small group which actually handed down the final verdict, meaning that it's obviously ridiculous to claim that receipts dealing with minor clerks, etc, would additionally be needed to prove that payments were made to the clergy who were making the decisions. In short, his argument is precisely analogous to claiming that since he personally hasn't seen very many (if any) English financial documents concerning Henry V's Agincourt campaign, therefore this "proves" that the English government did not finance very much of it. He knows better than to use this type of argument. 2) The financial records in question admit that the English government summoned the judges and assessors in addition to paying them. 3) Kenneth himself once demanded examples of precisely the type of financial receipts mentioned above as the "only proof" he would accept of English involvement, and only changed his tune after examples of these receipts were provided. He's not fooling anyone with this. 4) Tribunal members such as Cauchon and Duremont are listed in numerous documents as members of the English Council itself, and yet Kenneth is trying to claim that the English Council was not involved. 5) There is other evidence of English involvement, such as (pro-English) Burgundian government sources which say that "the King of England" was the one behind the trial, and similar statements by the Italian Lorenzo Buonincontro, to merely cite a couple examples. 6) All of this, and the eyewitness accounts, provides us with a large and mutually-confirming set of evidence from many disparate sources on all sides, all saying the same thing. Kenneth has adopted the tactic of rejecting each of these pieces of evidence by claiming that each is the "only one", by doggedly ignoring everything except the specific source which he's trying to dismiss at the moment. He'll then go on to the next piece of evidence in the set and declare that this is the "only one", and so forth.
(And in a related point in a recent email):
there are receipts showing that the English made payments to a handful of French clerics who participated in her trial as noted in the Williamson website. Since several 100's of people were employed at one time during the trial, "proof" of English dominating Joan's trial is based on the fact that the English paid for only an infinitesimal part of it.
There is no direct evidence that the English dominated the trial as documented in letters of communication amongst the English and Burgundians, personal diaries of those who were involved in the trial process, or in any of the contemporary chronicles showing English involvement in the prosecution of the Maid other than monetary receipts.Previously, he justified the above argument by claiming that the letters between Cauchon and various Anglo-Burgundian officials (in which they discuss setting up the trial, etc) allegedly wouldn't count, since at that time he was still claiming that Cauchon was "pro-French". He now acknowledges (in his comments cited above) that Cauchon and the others were in fact affiliated with, and in some cases officials serving under, the very secular leaders in question - and hence he must concede that we are therefore dealing with precisely the type of "letters of communication between Anglo-Burgundian officials" that he's demanding as proof. I think one must say that he seems to be dredging up an old argument which has now been rendered invalid even by his own more recent admissions. Similarly, there are in fact (again) other Anglo-Burgundian sources which attest to English involvement, as mentioned above. Since he's never read any of these sources, he's simply assuming that they don't exist.
The English themselves had to remind the Church that Joan must be handed back to them in the event she is cleared of heresy charges - a fact that argues against the contention that her trial was fixed by the English.Much the same gaffe is in evidence with the above: 1) We again have here the ironic claim that the planned English retention of an acquitted prisoner of the Church somehow "disproves" English involvement rather than the reverse, although Kenneth himself had previously admitted that if Joan had been acquitted the Church would normally set her free - in which case he should ask himself how a secular power would be in a position to demand a suspension of this standard rule if that secular power was not dominating the process. 2) More importantly: as with a great many rigged trials in all eras, the chief reasons why the English would want to take such a precaution are simply: a) a recognition of the fact that the process of convicting an innocent person while making it look perfectly legitimate - which is what the English wanted - is never certain, since success depends on the tribunal's ability to find a way to make an invalid conviction look legally valid. If Cauchon and his colleagues botched their jobs, then the English would need to have another option. b) While the tribunal members (who needed to hand down a unanimous verdict) were all pro-English to varying degrees, nevertheless they were not all equally partisan nor equally corrupt nor equally timid in the face of pressure (as the eyewitnesses attest), and as so often happens in such trials some of the chosen lackeys developed scruples about the wrongful conviction of an innocent person. A conviction was handed down in the end, but it was not a smooth process. c) In most such rigged trials, there is usually a desire to prudently cover all the bases even if the judge and jury are pretty firmly in the palm of the people trying to arrange the conviction. For all of the above reasons (and others), the English would have wanted to have a fall-back position in case their tribunal couldn't find or agree upon a valid excuse upon which to convict her. This should be obvious.
To ascertain the accuracy of the 1431 trial, the only document that can serve as a guide is the record of the Nullification trial of 1455-1456. Generally speaking, however, the record of this trial is suspect. It was noted in the preface of Pernoud's book "Joan of Arc : Her Own Story" [sic - "...Her Story"] that most historians dismiss her as a great military leader since the testimonies of her former comrade-in-arms made during the 1456 trial were embellishments resulting from the effects of time on human memory and the political nature of the trial itself.Anyone who wishes can look at a copy of the book in question and see that the above is false on every count: 1) the Preface never says anything of the sort - on the contrary, it says that "Pernoud and Clin" [the original authors] credit the Rehabilitation (or "Nullification") accounts as, quote, "recalling with basic veracity" the events in question -- at no point does it allege that the testimony is "all false", nor that "most historians" believe so. 2) As the Preface itself notes - and as should be obvious from the usage of the third-person voice when referring to Pernoud - the Preface, Prelude, and significant other portions throughout the book were written entirely by the translator (published after Pernoud's death) and therefore reflect his views which he himself admits are sometimes contrary to those of Pernoud - and yet in many emails Kenneth has repeatedly tried to claim that "Pernoud" allegedly believed the views he's erroneously attributing to the Preface, thereby promoting a double falsehood. To see what Pernoud herself actually said about the Rehabilitation, readers are invited to look at her books specifically on that very subject, such as "The Retrial of Joan of Arc", where it can be seen that she gave the highest recommendation to the value of the Rehabilitation testimony. The same has been true of most other historians, and in fact this testimony forms the basis for a substantial part of the writings on the subject. Kenneth's only justification for claiming otherwise has been: a) the fact that certain minor details (not the major points) in the testimony are, as expected, sometimes not precise; but this hardly calls the major points into question, especially since they are corroborated so consistently; b) he uses the above fraudulent citation from "Pernoud" to claim that even she supposedly rejected the testimony, which is false; and c) he cites discredited theories by people such as Charles Wood and Roger Caratini and pretends that these are consistent with what "most historians" believe.
Knowing how intelligent a girl Joan was, she would have had no difficulty understating [sic - understanding] church terminology especially the difference between the Church, Militant, [sic] Church Triumphant or the Church Universal [...] Joan's previous remarks can be taken as evidence that she has a misunderstanding of the meaning of he [sic] the term "Church Militant".Two points: 1) The latter statement obviously contradicts the former. 2) The former is Kenneth's standard method of dismissing Joan's complaints about the technical theological terms that Cauchon was using to further muddle the issue of "submission to the Church". Kenneth makes this claim using a particularly reprehensible argument: although in previous emails he had denigrated Joan as mentally "confused", he now suddenly concedes her intelligence - but only to try to use this against her by claiming she must have been "lying" about her inability to understand such terms. Of course, the issue here is really a matter of experience rather than intelligence: a farmer's daughter like Joan, who was never allowed any formal education much less theological training, would not have been taught such terminology; and one certainly cannot contradict her own statements on this subject using the specious (and indeed hypocritical) argument put forward here.
...a copy of the trial record was sent to the University of Paris, where church scholars could analyze them and give their expert opinion. After much deliberation, the learned scholars concluded that Joan was guilty of many grievous sins.It is well known, and has been explained to Kenneth before, that the clergy at the University of Paris had been chosen by the English from among their own supporters ever since the city came under military occupation a decade earlier, and the institution had often served as a mouthpiece for the English government. The University had been dutifully calling for Joan's conviction from the moment she began defeating English armies in 1429 - indicating which of her actions had truly sparked their opposition.
He [sic] third possibility, is that she made had [sic - "may have"] been mentally disturbed. This explanation is not tenable.In emails he sent at the same time as this essay was being sent out, he had made the opposite claim that the transcript "proves" that Joan was supposedly "mentally ill" (see Part I). Here, he admits that she wasn't mentally ill after all, but only because he thinks he can use that against her on this specific issue.
"[another] possibility is that she had a maladaptive personality, which is quite possible, since it also explains her cross-dressing and her leaving home without parental consent."Both of the above are distortions: 1) Joan herself and many other sources state that the reason she wore "male clothing", with laces and hooks with which the pants and tunic could be securely fastened together, was because this was a (then-standard) method of protecting herself against the attempted rape she suffered in prison and the similar problems when sleeping in the field among the troops. This type of necessity-based "cross-dressing" was allowed under a special exemption granted by the theological writings of the era, and in fact it was reasonably common: Bedford's own sister-in-law did much the same thing (as a disguise), and yet she wasn't prosecuted for it. 2) As for the notion that Joan was a "teenage runaway": Joan herself and the eyewitnesses said that she took leave of her family, with their permission, while going to Burey-le-Petit to help a relative, Jehanne Lassois, during her pregnancy. It was the latter's husband, Durand Lassois, who came to get her at her home. She said she later dictated a letter to her parents from Ste-Catherine-de-Fierbois explaining the circumstances of her departure from Burey, and both mother and father came to see her at Rheims for the coronation - as the city's financial accounts attest. Two of her brothers, Jean and Pierre, joined her in the army early on, and her mother also sent a family acquaintance, Friar Jean Pasquerel, to serve as her confessor in the army. She was not "estranged" from her family in any degree - Kenneth is adopting stereotypes which were merely invented first by the men who convicted Joan and then elaborated on by the pop authors Kenneth likes to read.
He first claimed (on 10/16/03) that "most historians" allegedly deny that Orleans was under siege, and then tried to back that up with the following (on 10/19/03):
'On pp. 97 of his [Kelly DeVries'] book refers to the situation just before Joan's arrival: "The city of Orleans was not on the verge of falling because of starvation; its walls were about not to [sic - "not about to"] be breached - in fact the English showed little interest in taking Orleans…. [sic] nor were the spirits of the citizens failing..". So at least when Joan arrived, Orleans was not under siege. She is not the Liberator of Orleans since there was nothing to liberate when the lifting of the "siege" began.'These are classic "Kennethisms". On the first point, it's truly astounding to allege that "most historians" deny the siege of Orleans, given that most historians in fact cite the lifting of the siege as a major part of Joan's history and a major battle of the entire war. On the second point: If anyone bothers to look at Mr. DeVries' book, they will see that the author himself says that Orleans was in fact under siege: the above quote merely refers to the fact that 1) the citizens were not actually dropping dead of starvation yet (food supplies were low, as shown in the detailed records, but starvation had not yet set in); 2) the English were following the common procedure of waiting it out rather than trying to quickly take the city by storm - the norm in most 15th century sieges; 3) the reason why the walls had not been breached is because - as DeVries himself mentions - the French had set up outlying fortifications called "bouleverts" which needed to be taken before the walls could be assaulted. The fighting tended to center around these bouleverts. Kenneth is ironically taking DeVries' comments concerning the state of the siege and trying to claim that these comments prove that there wasn't any siege at all; he has since tried to justify this by claiming that Dr. DeVries is supposedly playing semantic games with the word "siege" merely as a means of justifying the book's premise that Joan was a military leader (which Kenneth rejects outright). Readers can judge such a claim for themselves.
John Paul's "skewing" the saintly statistics only increased the yearly rate to 3 or by about 7.1 %... The fact that one saint was canonized every four months or so makes the contention, that the average waiting time for a saint to be canonized was well over 489 years, extremely mathematically improbable.Several points need to be made here: 1) the acceleration of the canonization process by recent Popes was merely one of many factors given to Kenneth as an example of several reasons why his calculated "average" of "four months" would be way off, not the only factor involved. Other factors would include: a) many groups of saints (especially sets of martyrs) were canonized all at once rather than individually, and some of these 'bulk' canonizations were large; b) a great many saints were accepted into the official lists (and in bulk) without a formal process of canonization - meaning that if you take all such sets of "bulk" sanctifications, it would amount to a large percentage of the total, thereby throwing the "average" way off, needless to say. Kenneth is erroneously assuming that all of these people were formally canonized one by one, and therefore the canonizations would be spread evenly over time. c) To this must be added the effect of many modern Popes (not just John Paul II) accelerating the process. Other factors can be cited, but the point is simply that if you take all of these together, they would have an enormous effect on the "average" he's trying to calculate. 2) More importantly: since he can't find a single saint who was canonized only "four months" after their death (which he claims is the "average"), he's decided to ignore the actual individual canonization figures - of which a few examples should suffice to show the actual delays, which are all over the scale with no particular pattern: 549 years for St. Notburga; 707 for St. Agnes of Prague, 364 for St. Nicholas Owen; 409 for St. Agnes of Montepulciano, 448 for St. Norbert, 500 for St Agnes of Assisi, 174 for St. Stanislaus of Cracow, 316 for St. John Southworth, 400 for St. Thomas More; 717 for St. Hermann Joseph, 158 for St. Stanislas Kostka, 1,000 to decree the veneration of St. Hermengild; 364 for St. Thomas Garnet, 561 years to beatify Angelus of Furci; etc, etc. Granted, there are those who were canonized rapidly, but there is no pattern to this that is in any way indicative of their perceived holiness in the view of the Church (the assumption underlying Kenneth's argument on this point) - after all, Mother Theresa still has not been officially canonized (merely beatified) even under the greatly accelerated process used by John Paul II; and St. Hildegard still has not been formally canonized after more than 800 years, although the Vatican officially lists her as a saint. This does not indicate that the Church has any doubts about the holiness of either of these women: the process is pretty much random, and prior to recent history the process additionally tended to take an enormous length of time, often many centuries.
Why was there such a long waiting time for Joan to be canonized? Because very few who knew her regarded her as such. As far as I know, only a handful people, out of the thousands who knew her personally and made recollections of her, refer to her as a saint.The problem with the above statement should be obvious: we do not have "thousands" of surviving accounts from the people who knew her (no more than we have "thousands" for Henry V or Charles VII), and of the percentage which we do have the overwhelming consensus is that she was in fact regarded as holy. Kenneth is trying to use imaginary accounts which don't exist in order to "contradict" those accounts which do exist - precisely analogous to claiming that since most of the thousands of soldiers at Agincourt did not leave their recollections confirming an English victory, therefore we should reject the surviving accounts which do confirm an English victory. This is reverse logic, needless to say.
Oddly enough, Joan never mentioned her saintly/angelic voices until February 1431, about 2 years after she first entered the historical record.This is false: many accounts from people on both sides confirm that she mentioned them early on - even Burgundian sources such as Jean LeFevre de Saint-Remy, to say nothing of the many eyewitness accounts on this subject from the people of her own faction. All of these corroborate each other. Again, we have here the sorry business of Kenneth assuming that it's only the Condemnation transcript which mentions her saints, since that's one of the very few sources which he and certain of his favorite authors have managed to read in translation.
The only portrait I know of that casts her in a saintly image, was painted in the 19th century.He's unaware of literally hundreds of similar portrayals of Joan as a saint, from the 20th century painting by Von Imhoff to the relief carving by Saglier to the paintings by Ducis, Wagrez, Lucas, Cabanes, etc, etc.
FYI : 1. I am not a student 2. I never read Caratini's books. 3. I never read or seen Shaw's play "Saint Joan". 4. Most of my research was taken from documents I downloaded from your website and books by prominent medieval scholars, i.e. Wood, Kelly, DeVries, Wheeler, Adams, and many othersConcerning each point: 1) his school lists him as a student; 2) in previous emails, he has repeatedly cited Caratini's book as an "expert" source. He may well have never actually read it - it's in French, after all - but he has nevertheless cited the book's claims which he evidently read in several online news sources which mentioned the book in 1999. 3) He also repeatedly cited Shaw's fictional play as one of the "foremost authoritative sources" on Joan of Arc. If he's never read that book either, then one might ask why he has cited it as an expert source? 4) The authors he mentions as his "sources" are interesting: Dr. Ansgar Kelly has confirmed that Kenneth was distorting his writings on the subject, and noted in private that it's a "hopeless case" trying to reason with him; DeVries' book contradicts Kenneth's views on point after point; the book by "Wheeler and Adams" which he has cited (a rather loose translation of a book written by Pernoud and Clin) also contradicts his claims except where he has taken comments by the translator out of context and tried to attribute them to Pernoud; and Wood's various conspiracy theories and other ideas on Joan of Arc are rejected even by most other members of the IJAS, and certainly by the historians who have been considered experts on Joan of Arc. In short, Kenneth has taken a few authors whom he has happened to have read, most of whom contradict his views, ironically; he then transforms them into Joan of Arc specialists although they themselves will tell you that they actually focus on other subjects; he then erroneously tries to imply that they are "supporters" of his views although most of them say otherwise. Unfortunately this has become typical of his arguments, hence Dr. Kelly's observation cited above.
And on that note, we come to the end of this installment. Misconceptions Series: Email Follies, Part 4 Misconceptions Series: Email Follies, Part 5