'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."
Letter from Heloise to Abelard
I love romance. I have always loved stories that are filled with a central theme of romantic love. Tragic, heartbreaking or heartwarming. They are what I am naturally drawn to so I thought I would share some of my favourite love stories with you over the next few weeks, starting with the little known story of Abelhard and Heloise.
Their passion for one another scandalised the community and wrought a horrible consequence, but is a truly romantic story.
Heloise was an educated young woman, a clever, intellectual girl who was ahead of her time in terms of feminist thought. She showed disdain for marriage and saw it as little more than prostitution, which was a radical thought for 12th Century France.
Abelard was a philosopher, and intellectual who came to stay with Heloise at her Uncle and Wards house and began teaching Heloise, who was quite a bit younger than himself. Soon, they became lovers and Heloise fell pregnant. Fulbert, Heloise's uncle, discovered their affair and the couple were separated although that didn't end their romance and Heloise gave birth to their son, Astrolabe, who was cared for by Abelards sister.
They married in secret but when Heloise went to a nunnery, Fulbert thought she'd been disowned by Abelard and he and his friends sought vengeance on him by sneaking into his room one night and castrating him. Distraught and humiliated Abelard became a monk and begged Heloise to become a nun, which she did. They lived out their days as a monk and a nun in medieval France.
What makes this couple so fascinating is that they continued to correspond with each other and wrote some remarkable letters than Abelard shares in the Historia Calamitatum, which shows their love for one another.
Their bones were interred beside one another after their deaths.
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