A: In 12th century France, Fulbert, a priest of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, hired Abelard, a gifted but contrary theologian and Aristotelian philosopher, to tutor his brainy young niece, Héloïse. As you might have predicted, Abelard and Héloïse fell in love. What you might not have predicted (nor did they) is that Abelard impregnated Héloïse. When hearing of this, Héloïse’s uncle Fulbert became enraged, and shipped Héloïse off to Normandy for the duration of her pregnancy.
After giving birth to a son, she returned to Paris, where – again defying uncle’s wishes – Héloïse and Abelard slipped off for a secret wedding. When Fulbert got wind of this, it was just too much for him to bear, and – like any sensible guardian would – he organized his male relatives into a posse, ambushed Abelard, and had him “fixed”!
In the end, Abelard became a monk and Héloïse reluctantly entered a convent. (And you thought Romeo and Juliet had an unhappy ending?) But not all was lost, as their love affair still continued in the form of letters, which were later collected in book form. At the end of her life, Héloïse was abbess of the Paraclete, an abbey that Abelard had founded, and was buried next to him. One can only hope that the two lovers had better luck in the afterlife.Powered by Sidelines