Early in Bill Clinton's first presidency I remember that there was some report of some kind of financial irregularity or other. The details were vague but his enemies lost no time in trying to exploit it to his disadvantage. His friends instantly rallied around to defend Clinton.
As these things tend to do, it went on for a while and eventually fizzled out. Of course his friends didn't know all the details so they were putting their own reputations on the line when they stood up for his honesty in money matters. A bit later a sex scandal blew up. Not the Monica one, some other woman. Nothing ever came of it, but I was struck how none of his friends came forward to defend Clinton. It seems that nobody who knew him well thought he was a crook, but equally nobody who knew him thought him incapable of a sex scandal. I formed a pretty strong impression of Bill Clinton's character from this. Nothing that I have learnt about him since then has contradicted my impression.
I was reminded of this when I cam across this news story that suggests that the great philosopher Descartes was poisoned in Sweden by a Catholic priest.
The evidence is pretty thin to be honest. I don't think I am convinced that we can be sure that it actually happened.
The story is that Descartes had been tempted to the court of Christina in Stockholm. Christina was actively considering converting to Catholicism at the time, and a priest attached to the court took the view that Descartes' heretical views would be an obstacle.
The only hard evidence for the plot was a medical report of the colour of Descartes' urine. I wouldn't want to convict someone on that.
But it was the sort of thing that they did at the time. It wasn't long after they had tortured Galileo for instance. If the Church is innocent of this particular misdeed it only has itself to blame if people don't leap to its defence. As Bill Clinton could tell them, your reputation says a lot about you.