The Letters of Abelard and Heloise

Background

Héloïse (variously spelled Helöise, Héloyse, Hélose, Heloisa, Helouisa, Eloise, and Aloysia, among other variations) was a brilliant scholar of Latin, Greek and Hebrew,[2] and had a reputation for intelligence and insight. Abélard writes that she was nominatissima, "most renowned" for her gift in reading and writing. Not a great deal is known of her immediate family except that in her letters she implies she is of a lower social standing (probably the Garlande family, who had money and several members in strong positions) than was Abélard, who was originally from the nobility, though he had rejected knighthood to be a philosopher.[3]

What is known is that she was the ward of an uncle, a canon in Paris named Fulbert.[4] By some point in her life she was renowned throughout Western Europe for her scholarship. By the time she became the student of Pierre Abélard (Peter Abelard), who was one of the most popular teachers and philosophers in Paris, she was already a reputed scholar.[5][6] Educated by Abelard in medicine and other traditional subjects taught in higher-education at the time, Heloise gained quite a reputation as a physician in her role as abbess of Paraclete.[7]


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