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June 10, 2012

3

Héloïse and Abelard – A Tragic Love Story

by soundlandscapes

THE TRAGIC STORY OF Héloïse and Abelard seems to come alive when you stand on the Quai aux Fleurs in the 4th arrondissement.

It was here, at N°9, that the two lovers lived in 1118 according to the plaque on the wall. It also says that the house was renovated in 1849.

I found myself in the Quai aux Fleurs today heading for somewhere completely different but I couldn’t pass this house without pausing and thinking about their story. I stood with the Ile Saint-Louis and the sounds of La Seine behind me as I pondered the fate of these two lovers.

La Seine from the Quai aux Fleurs:

Abelard arrived in Paris from his home in Nantes in 1100. He came to Paris to improve his education and eventually became a respected teacher. He was approached by Fulbert, a canon of Notre Dame to give lessons to Fulbert’s niece, Héloïse, something Abelard readily agreed to do. Despite the difference in their ages, Abelard was 39 and Héloïse was 18, they fell passionately in love much to the consternation of Fulbert.

To escape Fulbert’s anger, Héloïse and Abelard fled to Brittany where they had a son. They returned to Paris but Fulbert had been plotting his revenge. He hired men to capture and castrate Abelard. The couple were separated. Abelard became a monk and founded the Paraclete oratory and Héloïse became a nun at Argenteuil Convent.

Despite their forced separation, their love endured. Abelard died in 1142 at the Saint-Marcel monastery in Châlon-sur-Saône. Héloïse had his body secretly transferred to the Paraclete.

Twenty-two years later, Héloïse died and was buried beside Abelard in his coffin. This was not discovered until centuries later when, in 1630, an abbess decided to carefully sort and separate the lovers’ bones.

Today, they are reunited once again in Père Lachaise cemetery and I’m sure their love still endures.

Pictures at Père Lachaise courtesy of Wikipedia

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jun 10 2012

    Nice story isn’t it ? Of course, with all the possible doubts.

    Reply
  2. Jun 13 2012

    It’s nice to hear some sounds from nature right there in the centre of Paris. A little escape from the hustle and bustle. The mood of the field recording feels quite nostalgic/melancholic when matched with the story.

    Reply
    • Jun 13 2012

      Thanks Jay. I very rarely get the opportunity to record the sounds of nature so I particularly enjoyed capturing the sounds of la Seine here on the Quai aux Fleurs even though it does include the sound of traffic in the distance. The sound of the water, which is just across the street from the house, did seem to me to provide a sympathetic background to the story.

      As Valéry has said, we’re not sure quite how much of the story is true but we do know that a good part of it is based on fact. Standing on the Quai aux Fleurs today, looking at the house and listening to the sounds of la Seine, it’s very easy to imagine that it’s all true. Well, that’s what I like to think anyway.

      Reply

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