The Beguine, the Angel, and the Inquisitor
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On 31 May 1310, at the Place de Grève in Paris, the Dominican inquisitor William of Paris read out a sentence that declared Marguerite “called Porete,” a beguine from Hainault, to be a relapsed heretic, released her to secular authority for punishment, and ordered that all copies of a book she had written be confiscated. William next consigned Guiard of Cressonessart, an apocalyptic activist in the tradition of Joachim of Fiore and a would-be defender of Marguerite, to perpetual imprisonment. Over several months, William of Paris conducted inquisitorial processes against them, complete with multiple consultations of experts in theology and canon law. Though Guiard recanted at the last moment and thus saved his life, Marguerite went to her execution the day after her sentencing.

The Beguine, the Angel, and the Inquisitor is an analysis of the inquisitorial trials, their political as well as ecclesiastical context, and their historical significance. Marguerite Porete was the first female Christian mystic burned at the stake after authoring a book, and the survival of her work makes her case absolutely unique. The Mirror of Simple Souls, rediscovered in the twentieth century and reconnected to Marguerite's name only a half-century ago, is now recognized as one of the most daring, vibrant, and original examples of the vernacular theology and beguine mysticism that emerged in late thirteenth-century Christian Europe.

Field provides a new and detailed reconstruction of hitherto neglected aspects of Marguerite’s life, particularly of her trial, as well as the first extended consideration of her inquisitor's maneuvers and motivations. Additionally, he gives the first complete English translation of all of the trial documents and relevant contemporary chronicles, as well as the first English translation of Arnau of Vilanova’s intriguing “Letter to Those Wearing the Leather Belt,” directed to Guiard's supporters and urging them to submit to ecclesiastical authority.



Publié par
Date de parution 15 avril 2012
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780268079734
Langue English

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The Trials of Marguerite Porete and Guiard of Cressonessart
University of Notre Dame Press
Notre Dame, Indiana
Copyright © 2012 by University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556 -->
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E-ISBN 978-0-268-07973-4 Manufactured in the United States of America Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Field, Sean L. (Sean Linscott), 1970– The beguine, the angel, and the inquisitor : the trials of Marguerite Porete and Guiard of Cressonessart / Sean L. Field. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index. ISBN 978-0-268-02892-3 (pbk. : alk. paper)— ISBN 0-268-02892-3 (pbk. : alk. paper) EISBN 978-0-268-07973-4 1. Inquisition—France. 2. Church history—Middle Ages, 600–1500. 3. Porete, Marguerite, ca. 1250–1310. 4. Guiard, of Cressonessart. 5. Porete, Marguerite, ca. 1250–1310. Miroir des simples âmes. 6. Mysticism—France—History—Middle Ages, 600–1500. I. Title. BX1720.F54 2012 272'.2092—dc23 2012003446 ∞ The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources . -->
This e-Book was converted from the original source file by a third-party vendor. Readers who notice any formatting, textual, or readability issues are encouraged to contact the publisher at
For Cecilia and Romare
Look in the mirror, tell me what do you see . . .
—R. Emmett, Ordinary Man
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Modern and Medieval Contexts
CHAPTER 1 Background to a Beguine, Becoming an Angel
CHAPTER 2 Seven Churchmen and a Beguine
CHAPTER 3 The Inquisitor
CHAPTER 4 First Steps
CHAPTER 5 Philadelphia Story
CHAPTER 6 Twenty-One Theologians and a Book
CHAPTER 7 Toward the Stake
EPILOGUE I An Inquisition’s End, the End of an Inquisitor
EPILOGUE II The Angel and the Doctor
EPILOGUE III The Council of Vienne and Beyond
APPENDIX A Translations of the Trial Documents
APPENDIX B Translations of Other Contemporary Sources
APPENDIX C Translation of Arnau of Vilanova’s Epistola ad gerentes zonam pelliceam
Bibliography Index 396 -->
The research and writing of this book were supported by a grant from the American Philosophical Society and by grants from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Vermont. The final stages of writing were carried out in the idyllic surroundings of the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France. I am grateful for this support, and particularly to the directors and staff of the Camargo Foundation and the fellows in residence there in spring 2010. I thank also the direction and staffs of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the Archives nationales de France, the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes, and the Bibliothèque Mazarine in Paris, as well as of the University of Vermont Bailey/Howe Library (especially Barbara Lamonda and the staff of Interlibrary Loan). Ghislain Brunel, conservateur en chef of the Section ancienne at the Archives nationales, merits special gratitude for graciously facilitating access to original documents.
Cecilia Gaposchkin (my partner in Capetian crime) read and improved the first draft of the entire book and never failed to keep up her end of our sanity-preserving virtual chatter. Robert E. Lerner meticulously critiqued the penultimate draft. More than that, his support of this project from beginning to end was essential, as was his generosity with sources, insights, and bibliography. Elizabeth A.R. Brown answered countless questions and went over my translations of the trial documents with a fine-toothed comb, saving me from many errors in the process. Suggestions and criticisms from the two anonymous readers for the press were also greatly appreciated. Others who kindly read chapters include Charles F. Briggs, William J. Courtenay, Jennifer K. Deane, Larry F. Field, Walter Simons, Julien Théry, and Ian Wei. My colleagues in the Department of History at UVM read the introduction for a faculty research seminar and improved it with their comments. I owe many thanks to other scholars as well for their help and advice, including Christine Caldwell Ames, Nicole Bériou, John Bollweg, Louisa Burnham, Olivier Canteaut, Anne Clark, Olivia Remie Constable, Xavier Hélary, William C. Jordan, Kathryn Kerby-Fulton, Deeana Klepper, Zan Kocher, Pascal Montaubin, Sébastien Nadiras, Barbara Newman, Mark Pegg, Sylvain Piron, Jenny Sisk, and Justine Trombley. I particularly thank Larry Field for translation advice and for a prosecuting attorney’s perspective on these trials. Whatever strengths the book possesses are due in great measure to these scholars’ generosity. Only its shortcomings are uniquely my own.
A version of chapter 3 was presented to the Group de Travail sur les Derniers Capétiens at the Université de Paris-Sorbonne in April 2010. I thank Xavier Hélary for the invitation, and the members of this group for their criticisms. Work in progress was also presented to the Colloque internationale Marguerite Porete, held at Paris from 30 May to 1 June 2010. I thank the participants of this conference for stimulating discussion. A volume based in part on this conference is forthcoming, from which I am grateful to have been able to consult prepublication versions of William J. Courtenay’s “Marguerite’s Judges: The University of Paris in 1310” and Robert E. Lerner’s “Addenda on an Angel.”
I also thank the students in my 2005, 2007, and 2009 History 224 seminars at the University of Vermont, who enthusiastically entered the world of Marguerite Porete. In a very real way, their questions and insights helped to shape this book, and their enthusiasm for the subject convinced me that it was worth writing.
At the University of Notre Dame Press I owe a great deal to Barbara Hanrahan, who supported this project from its inception. Stephen Little stepped in at a crucial moment and saw it through to publication. Rebecca DeBoer and the entire editorial and production team have long had my respect and thanks, and Elisabeth Magnus strengthened the book with fine copyediting.
Finally, my family. My parents Larry and Tammy Field and my brother Nicholas have given me their unflagging support. Kristen Johanson, I hope, knows just how much of this book belongs to her. And perhaps Cecilia and Romare will read it some day (or at least stumble across the dedication) and think back to that spring semester by the sea.
Archives nationales de France, Paris
Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vatican City
Bibliothèque Mazarine, Paris
Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
Modern and Medieval Contexts
On 31 May 1310, at the Place de Grève in Paris, the Dominican inquisitor William of Paris read out a sentence that declared Marguerite “called Porete” to be a relapsed heretic, released her to secular authority for punishment, and ordered that all copies of a book she had written be confiscated. William next consigned Marguerite’s would-be supporter, Guiard of Cressonessart, to perpetual imprisonment. Guiard was not an author, but rather what might be termed an apocalyptic activist, charged in his own mind with an angelic mission to defend the true adherents of the Lord—including Marguerite—as the time of Antichrist grew near. The inquisitor’s sentences also sketched the bare outlines of Marguerite’s and Guiard’s stories. Marguerite had earlier been detained by a bishop of Cambrai, her book had been burned at that time, and she had been released with a warning never again to write or speak about the ideas contained there. She chose to ignore this order, however, and communicated her book to others, including a neighboring bishop. This audacity landed her before an inquisitor and the next bishop of Cambrai, and eventually led to her incarceration under William of Paris’s jurisdiction by fall 1308. It was at this point that Guiard appeared in Paris and attempted to defend Marguerite in some way. He was also promptly imprisoned, and the two remained uncooperative until spring 1310. Over several months, William of Paris then conducted inquisitorial processes against them, complete with multiple consultations of experts in theology and canon law. Under threat of death, Guiard at last consented to testify, perhaps shocking his interrogators with the news that he considered himself to hold the office of “Angel of Philadelphia.” Marguerite, however, remained uncooperative to the bitter end. Nothing further is known about Guiard’s fate after the sentencing of 31 May, but Marguerite went to her execution the next day.
Contemporary chroniclers recorded Marguerite’s death and Guiard’s imprisonment as among the most noteworthy events of 1310. But memory of the trials faded over time, and these two were largely forgotten. Marguerite’s book, however, lived on. Although the trial documents never gave it a title, modern scholarship has identified it as the swirling exploration of spiritual nonbeing known as the Mirror of Simple Souls (Mirouer des simples ames) , 1 which circulated in unattributed copies of the original Old and then Middle French, and in translations into Middle English, Latin, and Italian, until Romana Guarnieri reconnected it to Marguerite’s name in 1946. 2 This announcement led in turn to a wave of scholarly interest in Marguerite Porete as an author and thinker. The unique surviving Middle French manuscript of her book was edited by Guarnier

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