1880. Martin J, from the village of Crottes. 38 years
1880. Martin J, from the village of Crottes. 38 years

Picomtal Castle, in Crottes, France, made headlines in local and international newspapers after the discovery of a diary written, and hidden, under the floor of the 19th century building. In the diary, adulteries, sexual abuse, clerical corruption and the murder of newborns is reported as part of an outburst by the carpenter who installed the flooring.

The discovery took place during a restoration project that began in 2000. The new owners of the castle discovered that under the floor of the upper floor there were writings by a carpenter named Joaquim Martin, 38 years old. Between 1880 and 1881, Joaquim devoted some time to telling, from his point of view and from his moral judgments, cases involving residents of the village near the castle.

Joaquim Martin knew what he was doing and knew it would be read in the future. At different times he pointed out “happy mortal, when you read me, I will no longer be me”. Martin reflects throughout the diary on the lives of his fellow citizens.

On one of the boards on the floor (see below), he reports the murder of four newborns. The children were the result of an extramarital relationship with a childhood friend of Joaquim's. “In 1868 I passed a barn entrance at midnight. I heard a groan. She was the mistress of one of my old friends who was giving birth […] He is now trying to ruin my marriage. All it takes is a word and a point at the stables to send you to prison. But I won't. He is my childhood friend. And his mother is my father's mistress,” he wrote. Joaquim also explains that he knows it was his friend who killed the babies to avoid being caught in his lie.

Floor where Joaquim reports the murders of the 4 newborns
Floor where Joaquim reports the murders of the 4 newborns

Furthermore, through various notes, we know that Joaquim was a republican and had a great dislike for the clergy. Cases of sexual abuse perpetrated by local priests left the worker indignant. For him, members of the clergy, such as the then Abbot Lagier, sexually abused women during confessions.

The reports were gathered in a book and many of the cases, such as those of Abbot Lagier, were investigated, revealing new information that allowed the historian Jacques-Olivier Boudon, the author of Le Plancher de Joachim (Joachim's Floor, in Portuguese), to to color life in the village.

To learn more, read on BBC Brazil.

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