It was probably to be expected, but it was still surprising to read in the Facebook group devoted to J. Hutton Pulitzer’s claims about the allegedly Roman sword found on Oak Island that the technical material on Roman metallurgy found in Pulitzer’s 200-page report on the sword was copied verbatim and without acknowledgement from a dissertation by David Dungworth. Pulitzer reproduced five sections of the dissertation (with the original section numbering, despite reordering them) and used these as the basis for his analysis, comprising about one-third of the total page count for the report. I reviewed both documents, and no surprise, it is in fact the same material. Pulitzer places it under a heading of “Bibliography, Citations, and Reference Research,” so it isn’t clear to me whether he intended for pages 104-159 to be considered his work or whether he meant that as excerpts from his research supporting his “analysis.” Regardless, he does not seem to mention having had permission to reprint or rearrange the work copied for his own report.
Let me pause to point out the hypocrisy. Pulitzer threatened to sue me for fair use of a portion of a photograph of “his” sword that he declined to prove he even owned, and here he reproduced huge chunks of another person’s work without acknowledgement!
Anyway, since we’re discussing conspiracy theories, I thought I’d point out that I finally got around to completing a task I’d been meaning to get to for a long time. After a couple of years (!) I finally managed to translate the complete testimony of the Templar brother Jean de Châlons, the fellow who was the first and only historical source to allege that the Templars fled France in an armada of ships. His testimony under torture to the papal inquiry into the Templars at Poitiers in June 1308 gave rise to all of the modern Templar conspiracy theories involving trans-Atlantic travel or mysterious relocations to Scotland, so it is of great importance to understanding fringe literature. In real life, it’s also one of the most important sources for understanding the accusations that were concocted against the Templars. That’s why it’s surprising that there isn’t, to my knowledge, an English translation of the Latin text.
I think a good chunk of that is due to the fact that the Latin is exceedingly convoluted, with obscure uses of terms, legalistic formality, and pancaking layers of subjunctives that make the text difficult to read. I reviewed as many secondary sources about Jean de Châlons as I could find, many of which translated a few lines of the text, and it’s interesting that every one of the secondary authors skipped the same problematic sentences that gave me so much trouble. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the papal authors weren’t particularly clear in those passages.
There are also a number of individuals mentioned who don’t seem to appear in any other records, including the Comte de Longpré (comes de Magno Prato; possibly the same title of Comes de Magno-prato found in the letters of Pope Alexander III in 1171), Ioannes (Jean) de Vallecutone, Reginald(us) de Cormesi, Petrus (Peter) de Brigeriis (of Brie?), and Terricus (Thierry) the Younger. The place names are untranslated because I can’t figure out what the names are supposed to refer to.
It’s ultimately not too important to understanding the meaning, but there are a few rough patches in the translation where the subjunctives made the meaning a bit unclear. I think, on the whole, that sense comes through and it’s quite clear that Jean was telling the papal inquisitors whatever they wanted to hear so he could escape punishment. So, that was it: The big secret testimony of the horrors of the Knights Templar, hidden in the Vatican Secret Archives. Big deal!
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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