A few weeks ago, I brought to you part 1 of the interrogation of Count Cagliostro. To catch everyone up, Count Cagliostro was a charlatan/mystic who claimed to have healing power and inveigled his way into noble households all around Europe in the late 1700’s. He happened to get caught up in the Affair of the Diamond Necklace because he became friends with Cardinal Rohan. He was arrested along with many other people in 1785 in connection with the theft of a very expensive diamond necklace. In the previous installment, Cagliostro talked about how he met Jeanne de La Motte-Valois, the adventuress who (apparently) stole the missing necklace. He was also asked about a contract which Jeanne provided to Cardinal Rohan. The contract was from the royal jewelers, was for the sale of the missing necklace, and was apparently signed by Queen Marie-Antoinette. The contract–like many other documents that Jeanne showed to the Cardinal–was a forgery.
In the second part of the interrogation, Cagliostro talks about what happened when the Cardinal showed him this forged contract. Cagliostro told the Cardinal that the contract looked like a fake and that the Queen wouldn’t sign herself as “Marie-Antoinette de France”. Queens would sign only their name–so the Queen would have signed only “Marie-Antoinette”. Cagliostro advised the Cardinal to go directly to the king and explain what had happened. The Cardinal didn’t want to do this, apparently for fear of getting Jeanne in trouble.
From what is said here, it seems the Cardinal was still not entirely sold on the fact that the contract is a forgery. He apparently let Jeanne into his home shortly after he showed the contract to Cagliostro. Clearly, he still wanted Jeanne around.
What happened on that day, as you will see below, is pretty saucy. Some of it is obfuscated by the language barrier (as I’ve mentioned before, I’m translating this myself from French and it is very difficult). Some of it is obfuscated by the interrogator’s reluctance to out-and-out say what he thinks happened. However, it’s safe to say that there was a lot of sexual tension at chez Cardinal. The interrogator is trying, in a roundabout way, to get Cagliostro to admit that Jeanne brought a young lady to the Cardinal and that the Cardinal requested sexual favors from the girl. Cagliostro is–naturally–shocked at such allegations.
Interrogation of Count Cagliostro Part 2
Cagliostro said to the Cardinal that the situation didn’t seem very clear [“pas bien clair”] to him; that the Queen would not sign herself in such a way [i.e. as “Marie-Antoinette de France”]; that the Cardinal should know this due to his position as Grand Almoner; and that he [Cagliostro] would bet that the Cardinal had been deceived. But the Cardinal would not believe him. Cagliostro insisted and said, “Surely, you are deceived. You have no other choice but to throw yourself at the feet of the King and tell him what has happened.” To which the Cardinal responded, “Well, if I do this, will the woman be lost?” [In other words, “Will I get Jeanne de La Motte-Valois into trouble if I do?”] He did not wish to consent [to going to the king if it put Jeanne in danger]. Cagliostro responded, saying, “If you do not wish to do it, one of your friends will do it for you.” The Cardinal again refused.
We [the interrogators] presented to Cagliostro the contract that contained several instances of “approuvé” and the signature “Marie Antoinette de France”, including the conditions and propositions of the contract, and asked him to declare to us whether it was the same contract the Cardinal had shown him. We asked him to initial it.
He responded, after examining it, that he could not tell whether it was the same as the one he had been shown [by the Cardinal]. He expected he had not paid attention because it was of no interest, and [therefore] he didn’t want to initial it, considering it pointless. Consequently, the contract has not been initialed by the respondent, as he refused to do so, nor [was it initialed] by us, the above-named [“ci-devant”; in this case the above-named is Jean-Baptiste-Pierre-Maximilien Titon].
We asked if he had any knowledge as to whether, when the Cardinal came into possession of the necklace, he dismantled it and disposed of the diamonds. [For kicks, I would like to share Google Translate’s version of the above sentence: “We asked if he is not in his knowledge that when the cardinal was in possession of the necklace he fucked and disposed of the diamonds.” You win, Google Translate. You win.]
He responded no.
We asked whether, in the month of March, the aforesaid Madame de la Motte was not found one day at the Cardinal’s palace, meeting with him.
He answered yes.
We asked whether, two days later, Madame de la Motte-Valois did not return to the Cardinal’s palace with her niece [I believe this would be a young niece by marriage, as neither of Jeanne’s siblings had children, to my knowledge]. We asked if the Cardinal did not tell Madame de La Motte to request that the young lady meet him and show him something that he would enjoy. [Though my French isn’t good, this is clearly meant to have some sexual overtones, what with the hints of young girls being brought in for mysterious favors to the rather debauched Cardinal.]
He responded that he believed that that was the day he saw Madame de La Motte at the Cardinal’s palace with a young lady, but that the remainder of the claim was false.
We asked whether there were not, in the Cardinal’s chamber, twenty or thirty candles lit.
He answered there were as many as were usual for a prince’s residence, nothing more.
We asked whether he [the Cardinal] did not make the young lady kneel before him, and whether he did not make her promise to never tell anyone what she was about to have the pleasure of seeing.
He responded: “Never! Oh no!” [“Jamais! Oh! Que non!” Clearly, there is some subtext to the interrogator’s question.]
We asked whether he [the Cardinal] had adorned the young lady with a ribbon of blue, green, and black; with a white ribbon, at the bottom of which was a cross and “un crachcat” [I haven’t been able to decipher what is meant by “crachat”, which is usually translated as “spit”; that clearly makes no sense here; possible this is “sash”]; and with a white apron on which there were different orders. [I admit to being slightly flummoxed by this sentence. I feel that something specific is meant by some of these words and I’m not sure what that is. In French, it reads: “Interrogé s’il n’a pas paré cette jeune fille d’un cordon bleu, vert et noir, et d’un cordon blanc au bas desquels il y avait une croix et un crachat et d’un tablier blanc sur lequel il y avait différents ordres.” The gist, however, is that he’s dressing her up in ceremonial regalia.]
He [Cagliostro] responded no. He merely remembered that the Cardinal took whatever ribbons were were there in the chamber and gave them to this young lady as a gift, but there were no ribbons of blue or green, nor any cross or apron.
We asked whether the Cardinal did not place a sword on her head and if he did not ask him [Cagliostro] to say these words: “I command you in the name of the Grand Cophte [a Masonic reference] and the angels Michael and Raphael to show me right now everything I want to see.”
He responded that that was very false. [Again, it’s also rather suggestive!]