French historian, journalist; b. Quillan (Aude), June 24, 1866; d. Saint-Martin-de-Brethencourt, near Paris, Dec. 11, 1953. Jean Baptiste Hippolyte Guiraud, brother of the historian Paul Guiraud (1850–1907), was a brilliant student in Carcassonne and at the Lycée Saint-Louis in Paris. In 1885, he went to the École Normale Superieure. As a member of the École Française in Rome (1885–89), Guiraud specialized in the study of medieval religious history. The École Française had undertaken the publication of the 13th-century papal registers. Guiraud participated in this project by editing the Registres d'Urbain IV in four volumes and the Registres de Grégoire X in one volume. These researches in Rome permitted Guiraud to become a docteur ès lettres in 1896, after he published his main thesis, L'État pontifical après le Grand Schisme, and his complementary thesis in Latin (then obligatory) on the Dominican monastery in Prouille: De Prulianensi monasterio ordinis Praedicatorum incunabilia (1206–1345). In 1898, he was appointed professor of medieval history on the faculty of letters at Besançon. His Cartulaire de Notre-Dame de Prouille (1907) completed his study of the monastery in Prouille. Its lengthy preface contained a very important study of the Albigensian heresy in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Guiraud's scholarly activities were interrupted by the law separating Church and State (1905) and by the other religious difficulties then disturbing France. As an ardent Catholic who opposed the law of separation, Guiraud published several brochures on La séparation et les élections (1906), delivered numerous lectures, and created Catholic associations for heads of families. In 1917, he quit the university and until 1940 he acted as director of La Croix in Paris. He contributed much to the high quality of this important Catholic newspaper and exercised great influence on the French Catholic press. Late in his career, Guiraud returned to historical studies and set out to produce a history of the medieval Inquisition to the end of the 15th century, based on a detailed study of documents. However, his two volumes on the Histoire de l'Inquisition au Moyen Âge (1935–38) did not complete his project. The first volume was in great part a reproduction of the preface to his Cartulaire de … Prouille. The second volume did not deal with the period after the 13th century. The work has been criticized for its lack of synthesis and its inexact references.
Guiraud published historical works of a more popular type that gained a wide reception. Saint Dominique (1899) and L'Inquisition médiévale (1929) were both translated into English. In this class were also L'Église et les origines de la Renaissance (1902), Questions d'histoire et d'archéologie chrétienne (1906), and Histoire partiale. Histoire vraie (4 v. 1911–26). Some of these popularizations, particularly the last one mentioned, were marked by a tone of apologetics that Guiraud's more scholarly books avoided.
Bibliography: j. toutain, "Jean Guiraud (1886–1953)," Mélanges d'archéologie et d'histoire 67 (1955) 341–344.