Abelard and Heloise of Historia Calamitatum

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The twelfth century was divided into two phases: Early Middle Ages or Dark Ages and the High Middle Ages. It's during the High Middle Ages when things started to take a turn both mentally and physically. Churches developed more stamina and papal bureaucracy was created. The government was revived. Urbanization increased and most of all a sudden increase was brought in cultural revitalization and courtly love was an important aspect of this awakening. Courtly love is defined as humility, courtesy, adultery and religion of love. This is what I believe Abelards's and Heloise's relationship was based on in Abelard's Historia Calamitatum and his letters to Heloise.

Abelard was a well-known figure of the twelfth century that taught dialectic philosophy. Abelard was in his late thirties when he first met Heloise in Paris. And it was her knowledge and gift for writing letters, which was so rare in women at the times that attracted Abelard to her. Heloise was the niece of one of the Cannons. She was about seventeen when she met Abelard; this was not considered a big deal for back then it was pretty common to have big age difference in marriages. Heloise was considered atypical because women were rarely educated at all back then. She was strong willed and she had a pretty good sense of logic and this is what brought them together. Heloise struck a deal with Heloise's uncle to educate her and gained full access to her pleasures. Their relationship encompassed the maximum in personal freedom. "Her studies allowed us to withdraw in private, as love desired and then with our books open before us, more words of our love than of our reading passed between us, and more kissing than teaching. (Radice 67). Later Heloise became pregnant and Abelard could not successfully sidestep the rules of the society because the society of a time just wouldn't accept a premarital sexual affair.

I believe Abelard and Heloise got engaged in the first "modern" love affair. Because they enjoyed each other both sexually and intellectually, just as how it's perceived in today's world. Though Heloise's attitude towards marriage and love was quite different from the other women of the twelfth century. She resisted the idea of marriage because she thought it was more of an economical and political idea than real love and that she would rather be called a whore or a mistress instead of a wife.

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