Bernard Gui

Bernard's Arbor genealogiae regum Francorum, showing consanguinity of the kings of France

Bernard Gui (French: [ɡi]; 1261 or 1262 30 December 1331), born Bernard Guidoni, also known as Bernardo Gui or Bernardus Guidonis, was a French inquisitor of the Dominican Order in the Late Middle Ages during the Medieval Inquisition, Bishop of Lodève, and one of the most prolific writers of the Middle Ages. He is known for his tenure as Inquisitor of Toulouse against the Albigenses at the behest of Pope Clement V and Pope John XXII between 1307 and 1323.


He was born at Royères, in the Limousin, in 1261.

He entered the Dominican Convent at Limoges, and made his profession in 1280. Ten Years later he was made Prior of Albi, and subsequently at Carcassonne, at Castres, and at Limoges.

Working in the area of Toulouse (in modern France), his inquisition of those examined as suspected, known, reputed, or accused of the crime of heresy or support to heretics, led to over 900 guilty verdicts in fifteen years of office. People convicted of heresy during the time of the Inquisition were turned over to the secular arm (nobles and city leaders) for punishment. Out of all those convicted during examination by Gui, 42 were executed. The four sects of Christian heretics Gui wrote about in his Inquisitor’s Guide were the Manicheans, the Waldensians, the False Apostles, and the Beguines. Other groups which were not considered Christian but were cited in Gui’s Inquisitor’s Guide as “treacherous” were Jews, as well as Sorcerers, Fortune-tellers, and those who summon demons.

In recompense for his services as Inquisitor he was made Bishop of Tui in Spain, by Pope John XXII, and a year later Bishop of Lodève.

Bernard Gui died on 30 December 1331 at the castle of Lauroux in the present-day Hérault department, south France.

Works and legacy

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Bernard Gui

In spite of his manifold occupations, he wrote numerous works of importance such as the Flores chronicorum or "Anthology of the chronicles", which is a universal history to 1331; "Chronique abrégée des empereurs", "Chronique des rois de France", "Catalogue des Évêques de Limoges", "Traité sur les saints du Limousin", "Traité sur l'histoire de l'abbaye de St. Augustin de Limoges", "Chronique des Prieurs de Grandmont" (as far as 1318), "Chronique des Prieurs d'Artize" (as far as 1313), "Chronique des évêques de Toulouse" (as far as 1327), "Sanctoral ou Miroir des saints", "Vie des saints", "Traité sur les soixante-douze disciples et sur les apôtres", "Traité sur l'époque de la célébration des conciles" and "Compilation historique sur l'ordre des Dominicains".

His most important and famous work, Practica Inquisitionis Heretice Pravitatis or "Conduct of the Inquisition into Heretical Wickedness", gives a list of serious heresies in the early 14th century, and advises inquisitors how to deal with the questioning of members of particular groups. It is an exposé of the prerogatives and duties of the inquisitor: its citations, its forms of condemnation, its instructions for examinations, constitute a unique document for the study of the Inquisition during the first period of its existence. This work, lost for a time, was finally published in full by the abbé Douais at Toulouse in 1886.

Bernard is also the author of a number of theological treatises; "Abrégé de la doctrine chrétienne", "Traité de la messe", "Traité sur la conception de la Vierge" and also of various sermons.

Literary references

Bernard Gui is an antagonist in the historical novel The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. In the 1986 movie based on the book, his part (as Bernardo Gui) was played by F. Murray Abraham. Bernard Gui also appears in the historical novels of Catherine Jinks, including The Notary (2001, as an antagonist), and The Secret Familiar (2006, as a protagonist). Gui is also briefly mentioned in Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables.


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