Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen True Things about Abelard and Heloise

Abelard and Heloise lived during the Middle Ages. They defied the Church and paid a terrible price.

1. Peter Abelard and Heloise are one of the most celebrated couples in history, known for their love affair... and for the tragedy that separated them.

2. Both Abelard and Heloise were prominent intellectuals of 12th century France. Abelard, of noble birth and eighteen years the senior of Heloise, was a prominent lecturer in philosophy. Abelard was an adventurous thinker, and was constantly at odds with the Church. On several occasions he was forced to recant and burn his writings.

3. Heloise was a strong-willed and gifted woman who was fluent in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, and came from a lower social standing than Abelard. At age 19, and living under her uncle Fulbert's roof, Heloise fell in love with Abelard, who she was studying under.

4. Not only did they have a clandestine affair of a sexual nature, they had a child, Astrolabe, out of wedlock.

5. Discovered by the Fulbert (who was a Church official), Abelard was assaulted by a hired thug and castrated, and Heloise entered a convent.

6. Abelard described the terrible attack: "Violently incensed, they laid a plot against me, and one night while I all unsuspecting was asleep in a secret room in my lodgings, they broke in with the help of one of my servants whom they had bribed. There they had vengeance on me with a most cruel and most shameful punishment, such as astounded the whole world; for they cut off those parts of my body with which I had done that which was the cause of their sorrow."

7. Abelard would later write: "Oh, how great was the uncle's grief when he learned the truth, and how bitter was the sorrow of the lovers when we were forced to part!"

8. Abelard was exiled to Brittany, where he lived as monk. Eventually Heloise became abbess of the Oratory of the Paraclete, an abbey which Abelard had founded.

9. It was at this time that they exchanged their famous letters. The letters, originally written in Latin (but now available in English), are passionate both in the remembrance of lost love, and the attempt to reconcile that love with their respective monastic duty to remain chaste. The tension between the two lovers generates a huge amount of emotional electricity.

10. In a letter to Abelard, Heloise wrote: "You know, beloved, as the whole world knows, how much I have lost in you, how at one wretched stroke of fortune that supreme act of flagrant treachery robbed me of my very self in robbing me of you; and how my sorrow for my loss is nothing compared with what I feel for the manner in which I lost you."

11. The story of Abelard and Heloise is tragic, but what's more important to literature and history is what happened after the agony was over... Both Peter Abelard and Heloise continued to go on living, to write, to love, to contribute to our literary history.

12. They didn't kill themselves, or marry anyone else (unless you count the fact that both married the Church).

13. Heloise asks for his words, saying: "While I am denied your presence, give me at least through your words--of which you have enough and to spare--some sweet sem­blance of yourself." She ends the letter with: "I beg you, think what you owe me, give ear to my pleas, and I will finish a long letter with a brief ending: farewell, my only love."

The tomb of Abelard and Heloise

The full story of the lovers is here

theteach


27 comments:

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Not playing this week, but wanted to comment. Wow, what a great story of true love. Also a great story as to why I don't care for organized religion. It's their way or there is heck to pay. Just saying. Have a great evening Teach. :)

crazy working mom said...

I always love your educational posts! :)

Great job on this one.

shubd07 said...

Wow !! That was amazing . I will admit I hadn't heard of Abelard and Heloise earlier , but their tragic story and their love for each other reinstates one's faith in True Love.


Thanks for stopping by to read the story of the 39 yr old who passed on from brain tumor.
Perhaps may also like to read the flip side ..of her husband's point of view which , though rather late in the week , I have put up for the Writer's Island prompt of "Survivor" .

http://la-muse07.blogspot.com/2008/04/survivor.html

On a limb with Claudia said...

Wow. I had no idea. And how deliciously wonderful. I think in modern times we attend too much to love of the body instead of love of the soul. I hope they are blessed and at peace.

Gattina said...

There you got me ! I never heard about this couple not even at school during French history ! We learned more about Romeo and Julia the Italian version without castration !

Jim said...

Very nice. The teacher comes out again in great finery. Thank you, I learned (how much can I remember?).
Sorry there wasn't time in NYC to look you up, we enjoyed our short stopover.
..

Hazel said...

i do like to read ur post it's always meaningful.

Leonard Blumfeld said...

Wonderful post on this literary and historical couple.

Sassy Mama Bear said...

Education and history all in one TT - you know it hooked me. Now I want to read the book.
Mine is up.

Kimmie said...

OMGoodness Mary...I have The Movie About Them!!!! I cry like all heck when I watch it. Its called "Stealing Heaven". The most beautiful story I have ever seen. Thank You for posting this Mary. It so refreshing to see their are other "Romantic's" out there like myself. :-)

Hugs,
Kimmie

Kimmie said...

Oh...I forgot...I played today also! Come by and see...Maxine Is In Kimmie's House Today! ;-) Prepare for some Funnies!

anthonynorth said...

I've written about them in the past, and they should be one of the most well known lover couples.
I suspect they are not because they were thinkers, and such people are not 'cool' nowadays.

Ivanhoe said...

Beat me up! I never heard of them :o(((
Thanks for teaching me and happy TT!

Bond said...

I knew of them, but not some of the details you have shared.

Thanks for this...always a nice time coming here Mary

Suzie said...

REally interesting post

storyteller said...

I enjoyed the ‘history lesson’ today. Thanks for sharing. I’m playing at Small Reflections ;--)
Hugs and blessings,

SandyCarlson said...

An educated mind is a dangerous thing! Wonderful information, Mary. You are definitely The Teach in my book.

Marilyn said...

I hadn't heard this story. How sad and romantic. I'm glad they didn't kill themselves. I'll have to see if I can get a copy of that book

WillThink4Wine said...

Wonderful post, Mary! Historical, Literary & Romantic all rolled in to one. I guess now I'll have to google what happened to their child.

Julia Smith said...

I've heard of this couple but never really knew their story until your T13 - so thank you. I just love this quote from Heloise:
'While I am denied your presence, give me at least through your words - of which you have enough and to spare - some sweet sem­blance of yourself.' (sigh - shivery!)

Bethanne said...

it's a different kind of happy ending, isn't it? Literary yet romantic. Thanks for sharing. I'd say the church has come a long way as we're not castrating adulterers anymore! LOL Ha. Great story

Sarge Charlie said...

Nice post Miss Teach, yes I did get the Email and I thought it was very cool.....

STARLIGHT EXPRESS said...

very interesting blog you got here!!!keep it up!!

Sue said...

Thanks. I realize now how the details of their story were sanitized when we learned about them in high school literature class. What ever happened to their child?

Monday through Sunday said...

Wow ~ I never heard of this story..wow!

Travis said...

It's too bad that society's idea of morality couldn't have minded its own business.

Eve said...

While having some familiarity with the names Abelard and Heloise I was nonetheless ignorant of their history. Thanks for the enlightenment.