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Romantic Love in the Time of Abelard and Heloise

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  1. Abstract
  2. The Letters of Abelard and Heloise
  3. Abelard's Historica calamitatum
  4. Fulbert and Heloise pregnancy
  5. Abelard's attempt to move away from his former passions
  6. Conclusion
  7. Works cited

This essay seeks to show the existence of romantic love in the 12th century through various its manifestations in the letters of Peter Abelard and Heloise, as well as show how the idea of romantic idea was different from the ways in which we think of it today. These letters are filled with information on the beliefs and practices of twelfth century France. Their discussions range on a variety of matters, issues of theology, regulations concerning nuns, and most importantly debates on the nature of love. To them, romantic love was free of the constraints of marriage, yet it had to deal with the dominant religious piety of the time. Romantic love had to have a religious ends, the love of God, in order for it to be expressed at all. Abelard and Heloise show these beliefs in their writings, in which they attack their desires for each other and try to overcome them through religious discussion.

[...] Abelard tries to downplay the romantic love between them, sending his letters addressed, Heloise, his dearly beloved sister in Christ? (119) and the bride of Christ, Christ's servant? (137). Eventually Heloise's attitude changes, a shift seen in the changes of her address to Abelard, her only one in Christ, she who is his alone in Christ? (127). Seeing that Heloise has accepted their new relationship, he directs his Confessions of Faith towards, ?Heloise my sister, once dear to me in the world now dearest to me in Christ? (270). [...]

[...] Heloise argued against marriage to Abelard on this ground as well, who can concentrate on thoughts of scripture or philosophy and be able to endure babies crying?? Nonetheless, He married Heloise in private and Abelard sent Heloise away to give birth to their child. This latter act was misinterpreted by Fulbert as Abelard trying to get rid of Heloise. Enraged, Fulbert's men seized Abelard one night and castrated him. After the incident, Abelard and Heloise lived apart in religious communities. [...]

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