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 Héloïse d'Argenteuil

Héloïse d'Argenteuil

Birth
Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Death 15 May 1164 (aged 62–63)
Ferreux-Quincey, Departement de l'Aube, Champagne-Ardenne, France
Burial Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Plot Division 7
Memorial ID 1636 · View Source
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Famed lover of Pierre Abelard; their correspondence shed light on medieval French beliefs in romance, philosophy and social mores. Born probably of the Garlande Family in Paris, France, her family was of the upper middle class with money and several members in good positions in French society, although she was not of noble birth. When her parents died, she became the ward of her uncle, a Parisian canon named Fulbert, and at the age of 13, was sent to become a student of Pierre Abelard, one of the most noted teachers of philosophy in Paris. Of her, he wrote "A gift of letters is so rare in women that it added greatly to her charm and had won her renown throughout the realm." After several years studying under Abelard, they became lovers and eventually Heloise bore him a son, whom she named Astrolabius. Abelard, of French nobility birth who had rejected an honored position of a knight in the French Army to become a philosopher, then had Heloise sent to the convent of Argenteuil, where he secretly married her. Her uncle Fulbert ordered some of his friends to castrate Abelard, to revenge her loss of honor, and after the castration, Abelard became a monk. In 1129, when Abelard's order took possession of the Argenteuil convent where Heloise was a nun and evicted all of the nuns, Abelard arranged for her transfer to the Oratory of the Paraclete in the Champagne area of France, where two years later, Heloise became the abbess. After an absence of ten years, the two met again, and decided to write to each other. About the time that the two became correspondents, they began exchanging letters discussing love, romance, philosophy, politics, and the goings on of Parisian social life. Eventually, Abelard confessed in one of his letters that he never loved Heloise, but only lusted after her, and that he considered their relationship a sin against God. After that, their correspondence addressed professional and theological subjects rather than their romantic love. Several of their letters were published later in the book "Problemata Heloissae" (Heloise's Problems) in which she asks 42 theological questions of Abelard, and he replies to each of them. In 1141, when Abelard's teachings were condemned by the French Catholic Church, Abelard decided to travel to Rome to appeal to the Pope. After his arrival in Rome, he became ill and died the following year. Upon his death, his body was returned to Paraclete for burial. Following Abelard's death, Heloise continued to serve as abbess at the Paraclete for twenty additional years, until her own death. Her contributions to religion earned the monastery a reputation as one of the most important in France. Their story inspired the poem "The Convent Threshold" by Victorian English poet Christina Rossetti, and another poem "Eloisa to Abelard" by poet Alexander Pope, as well as the movie "Stealing Heaven" (1988). Although the Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is believed to be the most likely resting place of the two lovers, their final burial spot remains in dispute, with the Oratory of the Paraclete also claiming to be their final resting place.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1636
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Héloïse d'Argenteuil (1101–15 May 1164), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1636, citing Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave .