Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe: Documents in Translation

By Edward Peters | Go to book overview

10.
Guibert of Nogent: Heretics at Soissons, 1114

Guibert of Nogent (ca. 1064-ca. 1126) wrote his Memoirs, one of the most distinctive and interesting works of the twelfth century, in imitation of St. Augustine's Confessions, thus playing an important role in the history of Christian autobiography. His work casts considerable light on one eleventh- century boyhood and monastic career. Guibert was a monk, however, and by late eleventh-century standards a learned man. His account of the "Manichees" at Soissons borrows heavily from earlier ecclesiastical descriptions of heretical beliefs and behavior.


LITERATURE

Wakefield and Evans, Heresies of the High Middle Ages, pp. 101-4; Russell, Dissent and Reform, pp. 46-47; Moore, Birth of Popular Heresy, pp. 67-69. This excerpt is from John F. Benton, ed. and trans., Self and Society in Medieval France: The Memoirs of Abbot Guibert of Nogent ( New York: Harper and Row, 1970), second printing, with corrections based on Durham Cathedral Library MS. B. III. 7, fol. 364-64v. The editor has graciously supplied me with an additional correction based on the manuscript, the justification for which he is publishing elsewhere. The text is on pp. 212-14.

Since we have in mind the heretics whom this abominable man loved, a certain peasant named Clement lived with his brother Evrard at Bucy, a village near Soissons. As was commonly reported, he was one of the leaders of the heresy. That foul count used to say of him that he had found no one wiser. This heresy is not one that openly defends its faith, but, condemned to everlasting whispers, it spreads secretly. The following is said to be the sum of it.

They declare that the divine dispensation of the Virgin's Son is a delusion.

From John F. Benton, Self and Society in Medieval France ( New York: Harper and Row, 1970), pp. 212-14. Reprinted with the permission of the publisher.

-72-

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