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Adultery and murder secrets in 140-year-old French diary

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A secret diary written on castle floorboards reveals an adulterer murdered his babies to cover up a sordid affair, reported (Australia).

The new owners of the chateau of Picomtal in France went to replace the castle’s old flooring — and unearthed dozens of diary entries uncovering scandals from 140 years ago, reports The Sun .

Joachim Martin was the author — a 38-year-old carpenter who installed the parquet for the chateau’s then owner.

He reports his most closely guarded secrets in 72 candid entries, written over several months between 1880 and 1881.

Most shockingly, he refers to an infanticide that he recalls 12 years after it happened.

He writes: “In 1868 I was passing at midnight before the doorway of a stable. I heard groans.
“It was the mistress of one of my old friends and she was giving birth.”

The BBC reports how Martin says the woman had six children — but that four were buried in the stable.
And he claims that her lover — his old friend Benjamin — had killed them.

He appears shocked at the multiple infanticide but feels like he cannot break the ties of family and friendship to oust him.

He writes: “This (criminal) is now trying to screw up my marriage.
“All I have to do is say one word and point my finger at the stables and they’d all be in prison.”

But old loyalty appears to prevent him and he writes: “But I won’t. He’s my old childhood friend. And his mother is my father’s mistress.”

Joachim was living in a time of great change, with the Third Republic bringing in reforms that limited the powers of the church.

The carpenter seemed to be a fan of these reforms — opinions mainly fuelled by his personal animosity towards the village priest.

He writes: “First I find it very wrong the way he sticks his nose into our family business, asking about how one makes love to one’s wife.”

“He wants to know how many times a month,” he writes, and adds more about sex positions, concluding: “The pig should be hanged.”

In the same entry he describes the village priest as “a bit of a lad, there he is bowing to the women while the poor cuckold husbands have to keep quiet”.

Despite his thoughtful entries, we know little about the man himself — other than he was born in 1842 and died in 1897.

He used to earn money as a fiddler at village fetes and had four children.

In Joachim’s Floorboard, a book about the incredible find, historian Jacques-Olivier Boudon says Martin was clearly a man of intelligence and sensibility.

And Martin certainly knew how to use rhetoric to great effect.

In a poignant final diary, written just a few months after his first, in 1881, he writes: “Happy Mortal. When you read this, I shall be no more.”

And elsewhere: “My story is short and sincere and frank, because none but you shall see my writing.”

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