The Correspondence of Heloise and Abelard<sup>1</sup>

Christopher N. L. Brooke

in The Medieval Idea of Marriage

Published in print June 1994 | ISBN: 9780198205043
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191676468 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

The Correspondence of Heloise and Abelard1

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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In the 11th and 12th centuries, most intellectuals were dedicated to chastity and asceticism. For them, the path to heaven lay through the cloisters while the path to hell lay with the intermingling of the sexes. This chapter focuses on the letters and correspondence of Heloise and Abelard who were caught between by their affection and their devotion to spirituality. In this chapter, the paradox of the ascetic ideal and the ideal marriage are discussed within the context of the letters of Heloise and Abelard. These correspondences from the Historia Calamitatum to the responses on Heloise, the eternity of human love and the difficulties posed by marriage is discussed within the boundaries set about their spiritual calling and life.

Keywords: chastity; asceticism; letters; correspondence; Heloise; Abelard; spirituality; Historia Calamitatum; love; marriage

Chapter.  3770 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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