The New Student's Reference Work/Abelard, Pierre

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36294The New Student's Reference Work — Abelard, Pierre

Ab′elard (ăb′e-lard) Pierre, a brilliant French scholar, was born in Brittany in 1079. Moved by a thirst for knowledge he gave his family inheritance up to his brothers and went to Paris, where he devoted himself to study. His fearless independence intellectually, and his success in public debates, led him to establish a school of his own, which became so famous that other teachers were almost deserted. He fell in love with Héloïse, a beautiful and accomplished girl, one of his pupils. As marriage would interfere with his rising in the church, Abelard and Héloïse were secretly united. Their union soon became known, and they separated, Abelard becoming a monk and Héloïse a nun. Devoting himself to theology he was tried and convicted of heresy, and driven to found a hermitage, which he called the Paraclete. He gave up this retreat to Héloïse, and when he died, in 1142, she had him buried there. At her death she was interred by his side. In 1800 their remains were removed to Paris, where they now rest in the cemetery of Pére-la-Chaise. A figure of Abelard reclines on the tomb, and by its side stands a statue of Héloïse.