Author photo. Perry-Castañeda Collection, University of Texas at Austin

Perry-Castañeda Collection, University of Texas at Austin

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Héloïse d'Argenteuil is said to have been renowned for her erudition and scholarship as a young woman when she became the student of Pierre Abélard. Their story is one of the most famous in Western literature. The forbidden love affair; the secret marriage; their son, whom Héloïse named Astrolabius; and the sexual violence done to Abélard by Héloïse's family are described in his writings and their passionate and voluminous correspondence. Abélard became a monk, and Héloïse took refuge in a convent at Argenteuil, where she became a nun and later prioress. Eventually, she entered the Oratory of the Paraclete (now defunct) in north central France and became its abbess.
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