Introduction to inquisitorial manuals

Latin treatises on heresy and inquisition

Conducting an inquisition was a complicated business. First inquisitors had to have some sense of their underlying theological justification and legal authority, both of which might well be challenged by hostile local forces. Then they had to be able to identify the various and often subtle types of heretical or otherwise sinful behavior which fell under their jurisdiction. Finally they had to know how to proceed in the practical exercise of their functions, from initial denunciation and arrest to questioning (including torture), judgment and punishment—all ideally subject to formal documentation. Inquisitors also had to manage a staff of underlings, each with their own particular duties and restrictions. Written instructions or policy statements were therefore important resources to ensure that established inquisitorial procedure was duly followed; these were sometimes collected into more or less comprehensive inquisitorial manuals and eventually they could be distributed in a variety of printed formats. The story of how and why these manuals appeared and changed over time is significant, suggesting much about how the inquisition’s institutional history intersected with broader histories of the book and histories of religious thought. Such documents also provide modern researchers with important primary source evidence for the history of medieval and early modern anti-heretical persecutions, by revealing how inquisitors were at least theoretically intended to function in a given time and place.

The key is to know which manual or other set of documents should be consulted as the most relevant historical witness to inquisitorial procedure in a particular setting. The fact is that there was no standard manual for inquisitors in the Middle Ages, and standardization remained an elusive goal throughout the history of Spanish and other early modern inquisitions. Nor was there a standard training regime or course specifically designed for would-be inquisitors. Inquisitors were in many cases drawn either from the ranks of the mendicant Orders or from the secular clergy, if they did not simply fall into their role ex officio (as with local bishops or their delegates, especially in the medieval period); in any case they would ideally be expected to have a foundational background in theology and/or canon law. Once in office, individual inquisitors in different regions might be able to obtain any number of texts for consultation in case of difficulty, or they might compose their own. In all cases inquisitorial work depended mightily on the contingencies of time, place and the personalities involved. This variability must obviously be taken into account if misleading anachronism or overgeneralization is to be avoided. The following overview of inquisitorial manuals as a genre is therefore intended to serve as a preliminary guide to this complex subject; it is far from complete.

Theological texts defining, refuting and criminalizing heresy were among the first of all Christian writings, appearing centuries before the foundation of papal or Iberian inquisitions in the later Middle Ages. Medieval inquisitors thus had many patristic texts as well as the Bible itself to direct them in their efforts. Roman law too was an important source for inquisitors, as heresy was a capital crime under Justinian’s code and inquisitorial procedure was in fact a Roman legal inheritance. One could thus consider Augustine’s various polemical writings, Justinian’s Codex and the Pauline Epistles as falling under the rubric of early inquisitorial authorities, for example. These were undoubtedly among the standard texts which bishops and friars looked to for inspiration and guidance in their earliest clashes with Cathar and other heretics in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.1

As inquisitorial work became more widespread and regularized in the later thirteenth century, however, treatises more specifically designed to serve the needs of inquisitors were compiled. These might reproduce earlier scattered theological and legal authorities, such as those mentioned above, into more easily accessed formats; they could also convey more recent experiences personally obtained by inquisitors working in the field. Most exist today only as scattered manuscript fragments, and had little influence beyond their immediate time and place of production—as was the case with a brief anonymous thirteenth century text identified only by the incipit Quoniam ipsa experientia facti. 2 Others, such as the equally anonymous Doctrina de modo procedendi contra haereticos (written ca. 1280 specifically for the inquisitors of Carcassonne and Toulouse), were eventually published but in eighteenth-century collections of antiquarian rarities, not as practical guides for latter-day inquisitors. 3

Some early efforts were however incorporated into later, more substantial volumes such as the famous manual of Bernard Gui (ca. 1260-1331). 4 Gui’s Pratica officii inquisitionis heretice pravitatis, written for the benefit of his immediate successor Pierre Brun, reproduces sections from the above-mentioned thirteenth-century works. It also contains examples and insights drawn from Gui’s own practice as inquisitor of Toulouse from 1307 to 1324, and so provides modern scholars with an invaluable glimpse of inquisitorial procedure at the end stage of the anti-Cathar campaigns in medieval Languedoc.5 There is little evidence, however, to suggest that Gui’s manual had very much influence on later inquisitors beyond the immediate vicinity of southwestern France. We know from a marginal note that it was consulted by one tribunal as far away as Bordeaux in the late fifteenth century, but its manuscript tradition is otherwise quite modest; furthermore it was not printed until the late nineteenth century (long after the inquisition had ceased to operate).6 It is not cited in other treatises, and though copies of Gui’s works were made by Doat in 1669 these were quickly archived and remained obscure to most scholars.7 Bernard Gui’s separate book of inquisitorial sentences was discovered and printed as part of a larger anti-inquisition polemic by Philip Limborch in 1692 [INQ 141], but prior to its first publication in 1886 the Pratica itself was thought by many to be lost altogether.8

Gui’s fellow Dominican Nicholas Eymeric (ca. 1330-1390) had more of an impact on the inquisitorial manual tradition, but his importance should still not be exaggerated. Like Gui, Eymeric was a prolific writer and many of his theological tomes had implications of one sort or another for the Church’s ongoing struggles with heresy.9 His most lasting contribution overall however was the Directorium inquisitorum, a three-part treatise combining heresiology, canon law and practical experience drawn from several decades of active service as inquisitor for the Crown of Aragon and chaplain to the Avignon papacy.10 This imposing work was still not widely known to subsequent generations however, even among inquisitors. It was printed for the first time at Barcelona in 1503 [INQ 29].11 By the 1570s this edition (along with three manuscript versions) could be found in the collections of high church officials at Rome, but it was never to be considered a standard or indispensable guide to inquisitorial procedure. It seems to have been largely forgotten in sixteenth-century Iberia, and it left no mark at all on the Instrucciones tradition that dictated practice in the Spanish Inquisition after 1484 (see below). Indeed the Catalan friar Eymeric’s manual may well have been printed at Barcelona in part as a response to the Castilian-dominated Suprema’s efforts to work out a new modus operandi; such a work was not likely to inspire immediate interest among Castilians at the time.12

The text languished, and Eymeric’s compatriot Francisco Peña complained of the poor quality of available manuscript and printed versions alike when he re-printed the Directorium in 1578 [INQ 32] with copious emendations, notes and commentaries of his own.13 Pope Gregory XIII ordered that no further editions should be made for ten years, in hopes that this massive tome would not be degraded at the hands of less orthodox or less careful printers.14 Peña’s revival of Eymeric guaranteed the medieval writer a certain influence in post-Tridentine inquisitorial circles; still the extent of this influence has at times been exaggerated.15

Many other Latin manuals on heresiology and/or inquisitorial procedure were produced both before and after the Directorium’s revival in the 1570s. Gonsalvo (Gundisalvus) de Villadiego published a Tractatus contra haeretica pravitatem at Rome in 1483, and it went through seven reprintings over the next half-century (mostly at Salamanca).16 Miguel Alberto’s Repertorium perutile de pravitate hareticorum was printed in Valencia in 1494 and reprinted at Venice in 1588. Alfonso de Castro was particularly well-received in the Tridentine era: his Adversus omnes haereses [INQ 127] went through 26 printings between 1534 and 1578.17 Arnaldo Albertino’s De agnoscendi assertionibus Catholicis (Palermo 1553; repr. Rome 1572) and Juan de Rojas’ De haereticis una cum quiquaginta analyctis assertionibus et privilegiis inquisitorum (Valencia 1572) were also in this tradition, as was the De Catholicis institutionibus of Jacobus Simancas (Valladolid 1552; repr. Venice 1573, Rome 1575, Ferrara 1692). After Peña’s text went out of print in 1607, it seems to have been replaced by the work of Caesare Carena (which includes material from Peña as well as other medieval and modern sources): Tractatus de officio sanctissimae inquisitionis et modo procedendi in causis fidei (1631; eight re-editions to 1669 [INQ 137]).

Peña’s text was thus only one of many theological compendia produced for the benefit of inquisitors in the heady decades of the Catholic counter-reformation; these Latin treatises could be used from Portugal to Italy and beyond.18 Such texts tended to cite earlier authorities, and an examination of their referencing patterns would provide interesting data on the relative importance of different authors at different times. Eymeric may appear among the authorities cited by Simancas, for example, but only very rarely; Albertino and Castro are more commonly used, among many others.19

At no time did any one inquisitorial manual emerge as the “official” guidebook for any tribunal, whether in Spain or elsewhere. Rather individual inquisitors made greater or lesser use of whatever they had to hand in their particular collections, and according to their particular tastes. Sometimes tastes changed, and even inquisitors’ manuals could be subject to later inquisitorial censorship; a 1560 copy of de Castro’s work [INQ 127] for example, considered a model of orthodoxy in its day, was eventually expurgated according to the dictates of the 1632 and 1690 Indices of banned books [INQ 46].20 Some treatises were deliberately issued by officials in one inquisitorial jurisdiction to oppose the pretensions of others; this happened in Catalonia as seen above. In 1613 the Venetian Senate asked theologian Paolo Sarpi to compose a manual clarifying their local inquisition’s special privileges in opposition to Rome; this work remained for years in manuscript but in 1638 it appeared in public as the Discorso dell’ Origine, forma, leggi ed uso dell’ Inquisitione nella citta e Dominio di Venetia [INQ 134]. Special studies could also emerge to address specific problems of the day, as was the case with Joseph Nuño Borgensi’s 1692 Medicina Moralis, concerned with prosecution of clerical sex abuse [INQ 142].

Such eclectic mixing, matching and pruning of earlier compilations continued well into the later seventeenth century, perhaps reaching a high point of convenience, sophistication and intertextual complexity with the publication of Giovanni Alberghini’s relatively slim Manuale Qualificatorum S. Inquisitionis at Zaragoza, 1671 [INQ 35]. This text was reprinted in 1740 (Cologne [INQ 39]) and 1754 (Venice), evidence of its ongoing interest even to non-inquisitorial pastors long after Nicholas Eymeric’s Directorium had once more become a rarity.21

Instrucciones and cartas acordadas of the Spanish inquisition

Quite apart from the medieval tradition, and apparently not much if at all indebted to it, is a series of documents generated by Spanish inquisitorial officials and circulated in the vernacular to guide the efforts of their newly-created institution. Whatever links the Spanish inquisition may have had to medieval precedent, these were not seen as determinative by its first inquisitor-general Tomás de Torquemada in 1484. Spanish inquisitors might consult copies of Eymeric or Castro when they wanted to drink deeply from the well of theological tradition, but for day-to-day inquisitorial business much more concise and practical manuals were required. This was all the more true in the early years as Iberian inquisitors dealt with an unheard-of volume of trials in a short period of time; later in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the urgency of that early and rather haphazard period in the history of the Spanish inquisition seems to have given way to more of a steady emphasis on centralization and standardization. Still, right to the end of the Spanish inquisition’s long history details continued to be worked out on a case-by-case basis. There is even evidence in surviving manuals to show that individual inquisitors continued to devise their own personal versions of inquisitorial practice, as required to serve the dictates of their particular characters and situations.

Strikingly, the Spanish inquisition does not seem to have begun with anything like a well thought-out or comprehensive set of procedural guidelines. Seeing the need for some sort of policy statement, Torquemada drafted a set of Instrucciones in 1484 and followed them up with addenda in 1485, 1488 and 1498. These were remarkably brief, however, with the original 1484 document covering only about six folios in a printed edition. 22 Nor were they immediately available for broad distribution; Torquemada’s text did not appear in print during his or his immediate successors’ lifetimes. Still, they provided basic instructions to guide the actions of inquisitors who were otherwise expected to draw upon their pre-existing knowledge of law, theology and good sense.

Further instrucciones were added piecemeal by inquisitors-general Diego Deza (1498-1507) and Francisco Ximenes de Cisneros (1507-17) as the need arose and as they saw fit, so that by 1516 at least half a dozen more-or-less official statements of rules for the Spanish inquisition had been issued. Gathered together and printed for the first time in 1536 as a Copilacion de las instruciones del Officio de la sancta Inquisicion [sic], these primitive edicts would eventually come to be known as the Antiguas.23 Such documents form the core of the Spanish “inquisition manual” tradition, and they were reprinted at Madrid in 1574 and 1576 [INQ 31]. 24 They fill only about 25 folios all told—still an eminently manageable, slim volume. They also naturally left plenty of room for variation and improvisation as time went on.

Meanwhile in 1561, inquisitor-general Fernando de Valdés (1547-66) issued an entirely new Copilacion de las Instrucciones del Oficio de la santa Inquisicion [INQ 30], partly as a result of embarrassments suffered during the botched handling of the high-profile 1559 Carranza trial.25 Valdes’ printed instrucciones, sometimes known as the Nuevas, were similar in format to the Antiguas though slightly shorter in length. The former were not intended to replace the latter but rather to be used in parallel; the two works were designed both physically and in terms of content to sit side by side on the same shelf. Interestingly, both continued to be printed separately—new editions of the Antiguas were produced not only in 1574 and 1576 but in 1627, 1630 and 1667 as well, while the Nuevas appeared just once more in 1612 [INQ 34]—thus raising the possibility that individual inquisitors may have had to make do with one, or the other, depending on what was available in a given instance.

This problem was partially solved with the release of Pablo García’s handy Orden que comunmente se guarda en el santo oficio de la inquisición acerca del processar en las causas que en el se trata, conforme a lo que está proveydo por las instruciones antiguas y nuevas (1568). This composite manual underwent multiple printings at Madrid from 1568 to 1628 [INQ 131, INQ 133] and at Valencia in 1736 [INQ 149, INQ 132]. García’s text was also translated into Italian and used by the inquisition of Sicily in the eighteenth century, with editions at Palermo in 1702 and 1714.26 It was even reprinted (presumably for the edification of bishops or parish priests, as the inquisition was no longer functioning at the time) in a small Cordoba edition of 1843 [INQ 193].27 It faced competition however, as the inquisitor Gaspar Isidro de Argüello published his own selective abridgment of the Instrucciones (both old and new) in a still more convenient format in 1627.28 By the mid-seventeenth century Spanish inquisitors thus had a wide range of options available to them whenever they needed to consult a text for solutions to questions of proper procedure. In any given tribunal, at any given time, they may have turned to the Antiguas, the Nuevas, García, Argüello or some combination of these—not to mention Eymeric/Peña, Castro, Simancas or some weightier Latin tome—depending on the nature of the problem, on what happened to be available on the shelf, and on personal preference.

Complications do not end there. Throughout the later centuries of the Spanish inquisition’s history, periodic revisions of and updates to the Instrucciones continued to be issued by the Suprema, sometimes on a local or regional basis. Ideally these later edicts (sometimes printed and sometimes handwritten as cartas acordadas) would have been known to the appropriate inquisitorial authorities and scrupulously observed upon receipt. In practice, however, one may question how effectively these memos were distributed and implemented. Some were circulated in a format similar to the modern offprint or pamphlet; for example an undated and poorly-printed 16-page Instruccion que han de guardar los comissarios del Santo Oficio. This little treatise on the reception of denunciations and questioning of witnesses was carefully laid out, point by point, in an essentially idiot-proof fashion. Marginal notes on one exemplar indicate that at least one seventeenth-century owner, Raymond Molines (who identifies himself as fiscal to the inquisition tribunal at Madrid), used it and took it seriously [INQ 33]; another exemplar was carefully bound together with a copy of García’s Orden by a late seventeenth century inquisitor named Joseph Llanes [INQ 132] as will be seen below. A shorter (4 fol.) and similarly undated instrucción concerning forms for reconciliation of Protestant heretics (valid only for the Madrid region), entitled the Instruccion y regla, que han de observar los ministros de el distrito de esta Inquisicion de Corte [INQ 37], provides another example of this ephemeral genre—the precise dimensions and impact of which are now likely impossible to determine. Inquisitors themselves found it difficult to keep track of such missives, and it became necessary to compile exhaustive and alphabetically-indexed lists of cartas acordadas at Suprema headquarters in Madrid in the early eighteenth century.29

One can on occasion even find small handwritten copies of formulae for absolution, presumably made for the benefit of inquisitors who either lacked printed handbooks or found these too burdensome to consult in the course of their regular business. These could range from a fairly lengthy set of Latin prayers along with Spanish credos and instructions [INQ 20] to single-sheet versions of a stripped-down formula in Latin alone [INQ 9]. Sometimes these manuscript formulae found their way into larger compilations [INQ 339], but most are probably no longer extant. Undated, ad hoc, rarely preserved; formulae, cartas acordadas, and short printed edicts may well have influenced inquisitorial procedure in all kinds of instances that remain obscure to modern research. The very fact that they were produced at all, however, suggests a great deal about the later Spanish inquisition’s constantly evolving, generally chaotic, yet increasingly nit-picky institutional character.

Printed works, especially when circulated by an authoritative institution such as the Spanish inquisition, are often presumed to preserve and transmit dogma and/or practice in a fairly impersonal, standardized fashion. This may well be true on some levels, but even printed manuals can be personalized and redeployed according to the lights of their readers. Of course most of this process goes undocumented and so is lost to history. Nevertheless, on occasion an exemplar of a book may be found which has been physically altered to reflect the needs and tastes of an owner (or succession of owners). Such is the case with two particularly interesting copies of Pablo García’s ubiquitous Orden, owned and apparently cherished by at least two active seventeenth-century inquisitors [INQ 132, INQ 133]. Careful examination of these texts and their alterations can shed light on some of the ways in which inquisitorial manuals were actually used in practice.

In one undated (seventeenth century?) exemplar, the Orden’s title page and index somehow went missing [INQ 133]. Rather than obtain a new volume, however, and rather than simply make do with his incomplete edition, the manual’s enterprising anonymous owner borrowed another exemplar. He (or an assistant) then painstakingly copied out not only the title page (complete with an intricate hand-drawn reproduction of an inquisitorial coat of arms) but the entire 12-page index. Two conclusions are thus suggested: first, such manuals were not always easy to come by, and they could be difficult to replace when damaged; and second, these manuals could be fairly important to individual inquisitors and used with enough frequency to merit putting a fair degree of effort into ensuring the completeness of their indices.

Another incomplete copy of García’s manual (again lacking title page and index) was equally if not more treasured by the inquisitor Joseph Antonio de Llanes Campomanes Cienfuegos y Arguelles (1640-1710) and his successors in office [INQ 132]. Llanes, a university-trained native of Oviedo, is known to have pursued an inquisitorial career which took him from Seville to Sardinia.30 He also must have worked in the tribunal at Llerena—a city near the Castilian-Portuguese border where Judaizing was perceived to be an especially grave problem. This can be discerned from the inquisitor’s (and others’) own handwritten notes, carefully added on nearly fifty extra blank folios and in the margins of his otherwise standard-issue procedural manual.31 Llanes was careful to update his text, adding marginal notes on particular points, citing dated precedents (many but not all relating to Llerena), and binding a copy of an additional printed instrucción at the end.32 He was apparently quite thorough and eclectic, even collecting inquisitorial directives meant for other jurisdictions. One marginal note thus makes reference to visitations of the Mexican inquisition in 1661, while another entire section is devoted to copying instructions from the Mallorcan and Sardinian inquisitions.33 He compared instructions in his manual to Latin passages drawn from inquisitorial authorities such as Peña, Albertino and Simancas, and took notes on banned books from a copy of the 1632 Index.34 Like the anonymous owner discussed above, he too made an attempt to provide his working manual with an alphabetical index—though in this he was less successful, giving up with an incomplete letter “D”.35 Colleagues and successors seem to have continued his work, and it is at times difficult to be certain which hand added what, and when; certainly the rough title page copied from a 1736 edition of García’s Orden was done long after Llanes’ death.36

Detailed analysis of Llanes’ and the others’ annotations has yet to be done, and in the end it may show little more than that this manual happened to pass through the hands of some particularly careful men who strove to keep up to date in their chosen careers. The exemplar serves to remind us, however, of the individual agency and circumstantial vagaries that may underlie even such an apparently monolithic institution as the inquisition. The fact that Llanes’ text was missing a number of pages suggests that it was heavily used, and/or subjected at times to rough handling; it also confirms the fact that not all inquisitors had access to complete copies of standard works in their field.37 Certainly not all would have made such an effort to recopy lost portions by hand. Llanes’ book, and others like it which may be found in libraries around the world with similar alterations, deserves careful consideration and may help to deepen our knowledge of inquisitorial history.

A final example may serve to underline this point. By the mid-eighteenth century the Spanish inquisition was near the end of its lifespan. Procedures had been fully developed, centralization and bureaucratization had increased, and prosecutions had dropped off in terms of both quantity and severity. Inquisitorial manuals of every shape and size, both in Latin and in Spanish, were available in fine printed editions and homely handbooks. In some ways the genre’s evolution can be said to have ended here; new copies of old manuals or reformulations of old ideas could still be published, but the proper conduct of an inquisition had essentially been worked out and there was apparently little more to say.

All this is true. Yet even at this point a scribe sat down with pen and ink, apparently somewhere in Mexico around 1765, and wrote out inquisitorial and other documents by hand for the benefit of his patron the archbishop. These included for example a 34-point letter from inquisitor-general Francisco Pérez de Prado y Cuesta (1746-55), dated Madrid 1747, intended to replace certain earlier cartas acordadas. His work was bound along with other edicts, secular and religious, into a moderately-sized volume which still survives today in a unique MS exemplar [INQ 38]. Printed copies of the documents were perhaps not available to the archbishop at this time in Mexico, at least not in a form convenient for the compiler of this intriguing collection. Again changes to inquisitorial procedure, apparently fixed in the official printed texts of the Suprema in Madrid, were thus subject to alteration for some on the Mexican frontier by means of ad hoc manuscript transmission. If there was no Joseph Llanes to ensure that such documents were also copied into manuals used by individual inquisitors, their messages may have been forgotten—if they were ever received in the first place.

Inquisitorial manuals, with their many varieties of form and content, their changes over time, and their further variation from exemplar to exemplar in some cases, present researchers with wonderful opportunities to enrich and deepen the study of inquisition history. Far from being a monolithic and unchanging genre, these manuals have a history of their own that intersects with other aspects of institutional and intellectual life in the late medieval and early modern periods, sometimes in surprising and always in interesting ways.

Robin Vose

Appendix: Inventory of inquisitorial manuals at Notre Dame

The Inquisition Collection at the University of Notre Dame contains at least 23 items which can serve to illustrate the richness and variety of the inquisitorial manual tradition; this is in addition to the Simancas volume which is part of the larger Rare Book collection. Many other exemplars are listed in van der Vekene. A number of important items not listed in van der Vekene are also available at the Lea library, University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

INQ 29. 1503 edition of Eymeric, Directorium inquisitorum (original 1370s).

INQ 127. 1560 edition of Castro, Adversus omnes haereses (1534).

INQ 30.1561 edition of Valdes, Instrucciones.

INQ 34. 1576 edition of Torquemada et al., Instrucciones (1484-1516).

[Notre Dame Special Collections Rare Books Medium BX 1936.5 .S553 1575 Non-Circulating]. 1575 edition of Simancas, De Catholicis institutionibus.

INQ 32. 1578-9 first edition of Peña’s revisions to Eymeric, Directorium inquisitorum.

INQ 34. 1612 edition of Valdes, Instrucciones (1561).

INQ 131. 1622 edition of García, Orden (1568)

INQ 133. 1622(?) edition of García, Orden (1568); some missing pages copied in a contemporary hand, including title page with illustration.

INQ 132. 1622(?) edition of García, Orden (1568); heavily annotated in a contemporary hand, bound with Instruccion que ha de guardar los comissarios.

INQ 33. Instruccion que ha de guardar los comissarios (17th century?).

INQ 37. Instruccion y regla, que han de observar los ministros (17th century?).

INQ 137.1669 edition of Carena, Tractatus de officio sanctissimae inquisitionis (1631).

INQ 35. 1671 first edition of Alberghini, Manuale.

INQ 142. 1692 edition of Nuño Borgensi, Medicina Moralis.

INQ 9. Manuscript Forma absolutionis ad cautelam, Santo Officio (17th century?).

INQ 20. Manuscript Modo de absolvar a los sectarios ad cautelam (18th century?).

INQ 149. 1736 edition of García, Orden (1568).

INQ 39. 1740 edition of Alberghini, Manuale (1671).

INQ 38. Manuscript of inquisition and other documents, Mexico (18th century).

INQ 339.1776 Manuscript collection of absolution formulae, Seville.

[Later editions, post-inquisition period]

INQ 40. 1819 abridged Spanish translation of Eymeric, Directorium.

INQ 41. 1821 abridged Spanish translation of Eymeric, Directorium.

INQ 193. 1843 edition of García, Orden (1568).


1 On the foundational documents of early Roman and Christian anti-heresy legislation, see inter alia E. Peters, Inquisition (New York 1988); various sources are translated in ibid., Heresy and authority in medieval Europe (Philadelphia 1980).

2 This work, according to G. Mollat, enjoyed some success in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and was used by Bernard Gui as the basis of the fourth part of his inquisitorial manual (see below). Still it has never been printed, and Mollat could only identify three medieval MSS (one at Florence and two in the Vatican, each covering only about 10-20 ff.) as well as a couple of seventeenth-century versions. See his introduction to Bernard Gui, Manuel de l’inquisiteur (2 vols. Paris 1926-7, repr. 1964), vol. 1, p. xvii. Further information on the wide variety of extant medieval inquisition manuals can be found in A. Dondaine, “Le manuel de l’inquisiteur (1230-1330)” in Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorum 17 (1947), pp. 85-194.

3 The Doctrina was printed (in an apparently incomplete format, along with several similar works) in E. Martène & U. Durand, Thesaurus novus anecdotorum (Paris 1717), vol. 5, cols. 1795-1822.

4 Gui’s descriptions of certain heretical beliefs for example may have been drawn from Rainier Sacchoni’s Summa de Catharis et Leonistis and the anonymous Disputatio inter Catholicum et Paterinum haereticum, two short thirteenth-century works (ed. Martène & Durand, vol. 5, cols. 1705–58 and 1761-76 respectively). Another of Gui’s sources was the German David of Augsburg (d. 1271), demonstrating the potential such texts had for geographical mobility; see W. Preger’s edition of his De inquisitione hereticorum in Abhandlungen der historischen Klasse der Königlichen bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaft vol. 14:2 (1878), pp. 204-35. On these and other sources in Gui’s work (including a brief passage taken from the Doctrina de modo procedendi contra haereticos) see Mollat, pp. xvi-xxv. Further information on Gui and his writings may be found in T. Kaeppeli, Scriptores ordinis praedicatorum medii aevi (Rome 1970-93), vol. 1, pp. 205-26.

5 Ed. C. Douais (Paris 1886). Partial translations (section 5 only) now exist in French and English: see Mollat’s Manuel de l’inquisiteur and J. Shirley, The Inquisitor’s Guide (Welwyn Garden City 2006).

6 The six extant MSS (three from the fourteenth century, one from the later fifteenth, and one a seventeenth-century copy) are described in Mollat vol. 1, pp. xxv-xxix. A note dated 1483 on the verso of Toulouse MS 388 fol. 106 mentions the consultation request from Bordeaux (Douais viii).

7 On the 258-volume Doat collection (only part of which relates to the Inquisition), see C. Molinier, L’inquisition dans le midi de la France (Paris 1880; repr. New York), pp. 34-40.

8 Douais himself expressed astonishment at how obscure the book had become by the 1880s (ibid. ix-x). Gui’s Book of sentences of the inquisition of Toulouse appeared as a separately-paginated second part to Limborch’s Historia inquisitionis (Amsterdam 1692); a surviving MS of this important text (British Library add. 4697) has also now been magnificently edited and translated in two volumes by Annette Pales-Gobilliard, Le livre des sentences de l’inquisiteur Bernard Gui 1308-1323. Paris: CNRS editions, 2002 (2 vols.).

9 See Kaeppeli vol. 3, pp. 156-165 for biographical data and an extensive list of works.

10 No full modern edition exists. The work was published in abridged form by L. Sala-Molins as Le manuel des inquisiteurs (Paris 1973). More recent versions, generally directly derived from Sala-Molins’ abridgement, have appeared in Spanish and Italian.

11 An undated, anonymous fragment (48 ff.) of the Directorium was also printed around this time under the title Summa utilissima errorum & heresum (van de Vekene vol. 1, pp. 14-5, #49). C. Haebler, Bibliografia Iberica del siglo XV (1903; repr. New York nd, vol. 1, pp. 300-1, #628) suggests the work was done at Seville ca. 1500 by Stanislaus Polonus based on typographical similarity to Polonus’ other work for the Seville inquisition. This obscure and incomplete edition (which focuses on Jewish and other heresies) was apparently unknown to Peña. Thanks to Dan Rettberg for providing information on an exemplar at Hebrew Union College, Cincinatti.

12 This is perhaps reflected in the cursory treatment the work received in its Seville publication (see n. 10 above). On Catalan opposition to the imposition of Castilian inquisitors at the turn of the sixteenth century see H. Kamen, The Inquisition: A historical revision (1966, rev. ed. New Haven 1998), pp. 52-3 and 75. In 1512 the cort at Monzón convinced king Fernando to impose strict limits on the Aragonese inquisition, and it may be significant that these Capitols y modificacions [INQ 126] were printed by the same workshop responsible for the 1503 Directorium.

13 Kaeppeli vol. 3, p. 158-9 (with correction in vol. 4, p. 206) lists nearly thirty Directorium MSS, including fifteenth-century copies now at Barcelona, Tortosa, Valencia, Seville and Salamanca. He and E. van der Vekene (Bibliotheca Bibliographica Historiae Sanctae Inquisitionis, 1966; repr. 3 vols. Vaduz 1982-92), vol. 1, p. 30 both suggest that the work was also published in 1575, and Kaeppeli even lists a 1570 edition, but these may be errors as exemplars of such editions have yet to be identified.

14 Papal response to Francisco Peña’s dedicatory note, printed on fol. 2v of the 1578 edition. The work was reprinted with few changes in 1585, 1587, 1595 and 1607 (van der Vekene #121, 124, 129-31, 133, 135).

15 Sala-Molins certainly saw the Directorium as a lynchpin, “la plus parfaite en son genre,” emphasizing the fact that it was printed five times and concluding that “Rome respecte absolument la parole d’Eymerich” (pp. 15-18). Further important information is in Edward Peters, “Editing Inquisitors’ Manuals in the Sixteenth Century: Francisco Peña and the Directorium inquisitorum of Nicholas Eymeric” in The Library Chronicle 60 (1974), pp. 95-107, who calls it “the standard handbook for papal inquisitors throughout the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries;” I have not been able to identify the 1536 edition he cites (p. 96). It has also been suggested that Eymeric was a source for the late fifteenth-century German inquisitor Heinrich Institoris, author of the Malleus maleficarum (whose own significance in the manual tradition has been overblown). Institoris lists many authorities in his work, but Eymeric is not cited by name and his influence not readily apparent; see the partial translation with introduction in P.G. Maxwell-Stuart, The Malleus Maleficarum (Manchester 2007).

16 See van der Vekene # 43, 44, 46, 47, 51, 52 and 57. A final 1584 edition was printed in Venice (#119).

17 The Paris 1578 text formed part of Castro’s Opera omnia (van der Vekene #108); other editions were printed at Antwerp, Cologne, Lyons, Venice and Salamanca. After a hiatus, the work was published in Madrid as late as 1773 (#221).

18 There are many more not listed here; van der Vekene vol. 1, pp. 13–142 identifies over 500 different printed editions of inquisitorial manuals appearing from the fifteenth right up to the nineteenth centuries. Interestingly, few of these Latin texts originated in Portugal. The first listed in van der Vekene (#154) is Antonio de Sousa, Aphorismi Inquisitorum (Lisbon 1630). For Spain, the genre is further discussed by Henry Charles Lea in a lengthy note to his A History of the Inquisition of Spain, (1906; repr. New York 1922), vol. 2, pp. 475-6.

19 In an admittedly cursory search I was able to find only one citation of a Directorium (the author was not named), on p. 270 of the 1575 Simancas edition; other authors are cited by name and with marked regularity throughout this work.

20 This information is recorded in a hand-written note on the book’s front page. The expurgation was minor; previously condemned writings of Thomas de Vio Cajetan had now been found acceptable, and so his contentious heretical status was to be stricken from Castro’s text. See A. Zapata, Novus Index Librorum Prohibitorum et Expurgatorum (Seville 1632), p. 41.

21 155 years after Eymeric’s Directorium was printed in full for the last time in 1607, it appeared in an abridged French translation (van der Vekene #220); thereafter it continued to fall prey to popularization as its audience shifted from dogged inquisitors to curious but impatient moderns. Cheap pocket editions (which likely contributed most to the work’s modern notoriety) were produced in Spanish by the early nineteenth century, at a time of heated debate over the inquisition’s final abolition [INQ 40, INQ 41].

22 In the clumsy 1576 edition (which suffers at times from intermittent and error-ridden foliation), Torquemada’s original instrucciones are given on ff. 3r-9r; another brief note drawn from the instrucciones of 1484 follows on fol. 20v.

23 A second edition immediately followed in 1537; see van de Vekene #56 and 58. Both were printed at Granada on the orders of inquisitor-general Alfonso Manrique (1523-38). The Antiguas were organized not by date of issue so much as by topic (including special sections for fiscals, notaries, jailers etc.). Teasing out these various strands into their original chronological sequence is thus a challenge for those using these later editions as a guide to the development of early practice.

24 Van der Vekene # 104 and 107. The Instrucciones were not intended for public consultation, and their contents were kept strictly secret (Lea vol. 2, pp. 475-7).

25 Lea vol. 2, pp. 45-90.

26 Van der Vekene #204 and 210.

27 Whereas early nineteenth-century French imprints of Eymeric’s Directorium (see above) were clearly intended to be read by critics of the Inquisition, this Cordoban work seems wholly lacking in polemical purpose and was likely intended for a pious Spanish Catholic readership. Of course, the intended purpose of books is seldom fully apparent, and easily subverted.

28 A second edition was printed in 1630. Translated selections from this text may be found in L.A. Homza, The Spanish Inquisition (Indianapolis 2006), pp. 61-79.

29 See for example Inquisición, Libro 497 at the Archivo Histórico Nacional, Madrid. Part of a multi-volume collection dated 1711, this large manuscript (over 400 ff.) also contains printed copies of Torquemada’s and Valdes’ Instrucciones.

30 He is listed as an official in the Valladolid tribunal by 1696; see the Catálogo de las informaciones genealógicas de los pretendientes a cargos del santo oficio (Valladolid 1928), p. 210. Cf. Enciclopedia Oviedo, s.v. “Antonio de Llanes Campomanes” online at

31 On fol. 10v of the printed section, for example, Llanes notes in the margin that special care must be taken when questioning Portuguese suspects in order to trace all accomplices in their heretical networks. Similar notes about Portuguese suspects appear elsewhere in the text, for example on fol. 90r-91v. An ownership note on the very last page of this section notes his residency in the city of Llerena.

32 The text is identical to [INQ 33], but its typeset is slightly different—suggesting that this document went through multiple printings.

33 The Mexican note is on fol. 8v of the main printed text; the Mallorcan document is transcribed on ff. 3r-4r of the initial MS section. Note that this latter text was signed by yet another inquisitor, Francisco Portero de la Vega, who tells us he served 12 years in the Inquisition of the Canary islands. This same man also copied the text of a Sardinian carta acordada (fol. 9v, initial MS section) for the collection; both copies were dated June 1674 at Llerena. Presumably Portero was either Llanes’ assistant or his predecessor; either way his work was diligently added to the manual and presumably consulted in practice. The text may also have been in the possession of another Antonio Llanes Campomanes who was serving at the Madrid tribunal in 1717 (see [INQ 111]).

34 Peña and Simancas are both cited on fol. 40r of the main printed text; Albertino appears on fol. 10v of the same; and banned books are listed on fol. 114r of the final MS section.

35 Ff. 115r-117v of the final MS section; further incomplete notes on the letter “E” also appear (fol. 126v).

36 The title-page information, copied on fol. 2r of the initial MS section, explicitly gives the date 1736.

37 Indeed, all five Orden exemplars in the Notre Dame Inquisition Collection are missing pages.

To cite this essay:

Vose, Robin. “Introduction to inquisitorial manuals.” Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. University of Notre Dame, 2010. <>