Abelard and Heloise


Perhaps the most famous couple of the Middle Ages – Peter Abelard was one of the leading scholars of 12th century, and Heloise d’Argenteuil was his gifted student. They began a secret and intense sexual relationship that led to Heloise becoming pregnant – they would have a son named Astrolabe.

“Would that thy love, beloved, had less trust in me, that it might be more anxious!”
― Héloïse d’Argenteuil, The Letters of Abélard and Héloïse

Peter convinced her that they should marry, but she only agreed to a secret one in order that his career would not be damaged. However, in a sad turn of events, Heloise’s uncle got a group of men to attack Abelard, where they castrated him. Peter would then go on to become a monk, and Heloise a nun, but would continue to write to each other. It is likely that they are buried together at the Pére Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

Juliet: “You kiss by the book.”
― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

There are still societies whose policies result in rigid attitudes of intellectual, theological and sexual repression. The love story of Abelard and Heloise, the courage and passion of its protagonists, has much to teach humanity about our own understanding of religious tolerance, sexual equality and intellectual freedom.

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