Bernard Gui

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(B. 1261, 48 years old in 1309)

Prior of Albi (1292-1296), of Carcassonne (1296-1299), of Castres (1299-1300), of Limoges (1300-1304), and Grand Inquisitor of Tolosa (1304-)


Bernard Gui is born at Royères, in southern France, in 1261. He chooses a career within the Church after entering a convent of the Ordo Praedicatorum in 1280. He rapidly learns to enjoy this life, especially the inquisitorial part. He dedicates himself to the cause of saving souls. When the Crozada Coeli bursts out, he battles next to the papal troops, trying to convert fleaudian prisoners, and to maintain allied soldiers’ faith with sermons and prayers.


After the Crozada Coeli, Bernard Gui returns to southern France where he continues his career as inquisitor despite the war’s outcome. He is nominated prior of Albi in 1292 by Clemens V who wants to reward him for his great feats of arms during the war. He moves several times in the following years, going to Carcassonne, Castres and Limoges. Pope Clemens V finally grants him the office of Grand Inquisitor of Tolosa in 1304. There, Bernard Gui continues to do what he likes the most : fighting heresy. From 1304 to 1309, the Grand Inquisitor pronounces 450 guilty verdicts, whereof 298 executions occur.


Bernard Gui is also a prolific author who wrote many documents on different subjects. He composed chronicles about Bonifacius VIII, Clemens V and Iohannes XXII. He is also the author of the Practica Inquisitionis Heretics Pravitatis, mainly a written guide for future inquisitors. In this document, he lists different types of serious heresies, for example the Sorcerers, the Horned, the Summoners and the Fortune-tellers. He also gives advice on how to deal with the questioning of members of particular groups, and describes the inquisitor’s prerogatives and duties.


In 1309, Bernard Gui does not completely agree with Pope Iohannes XXII’s views. However, both men respect and consider each other. And despite the pope’s attempt to check the Inquisition, Bernard Gui continues to battle for the elimination of heresy into the Christian world, gaining more and more support within some religious institutions like the Order of the Temple.