Peter Abelard

Peter Abelard


Eldest son of a minor noble of Brittany. Gave up inheritance rights to younger brothers, roamed France to sit at the feet of the great masters. Lectured in Paris. Wrote Sic et Non. A couple quotes:

"By doubting we come to inquiry, and by inquiry we arrive at the truth."


"Faith has no merit with God when it is not the testimony of divine authority that leads us to it, but the evidence of human reason."

At the age of 36, Abelard was a leading intellectual in Paris when he began an illicit love affair with one of his students, 17-year-old Heloise. The affair produced a child, Astrolabe. Heloise refused to marry Peter because she knew how precious his genius was and she feared their marriage would hinder his career. Subsequently, Heloise entered a convent but her uncle accused Abelard of denying his responsiblity. Heloise’s uncle hired men who attacked Abelard and castrated him.

Abelard ‘s love for Heloise was evidenced in their many subsequent correspondences which lasted for many years.

Abelard was condemned by a church council at Soissons in 1121, and again at a church council at Sens in 1140 for heresy. He finally retired to the abbey of Cluny where he died two years later. His writings later influenced such theologians as Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther. (Also cf. Linder, et al.: Eerdmans Handbook to the History of Christianity, Eerdmans Publishing. Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1985.)

[Significant contributions to this entry provided by Michael Switzer (mswitzer (at)]

[tags]Abelard, BlogRodent, church-history, ChurchRodent, history, Martin-Luther, Peter, Peter-Abelard, Thomas[/tags]


3 thoughts on “Peter Abelard

  1. Rich Post author

    Apparently, Astralabe (Astralabus) was adopted by Abelard’s sister:

    “Secretly married, the couple left Astrolabe with Abelard’s sister. When Heloise went to stay with the nuns at Argenteuil, her uncle and kinsmen believe Abelard had cast her off, forcing her to become a nun.”

    (From: ‘Abelard and Heloise: The Love Affair‘ via Literature: Classic at

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