The Passion of Peter Abelard

The Passion of Peter Abelard

Babich, Yulia Zadoroznaja, Ludmila Pent, Kristel Mastilo, Tatjana Alameddine, Liudmila and Ngassa, Jean-Luc

Roskilde University Digital Archive, January (2004)


Our project is concerned with medieval history and in particular with a twelfth century philosopher and logician Peter Abelard. To a wider public he is mostly known due to his passionate and tragic love affair with Heloise and their following correspondence. In our project we are going to look at him as an individual in the medieval society. In connection with that we are going to discuss two theories about individuality in medieval context, proposed respectively by Morris and Benson. The project will naturally also include our own thoughts and discussions about Abelard. Moreover, we have dedicated a part of the project to introduction and discussion of Abelard’s philosophical works, namely his ethics and his theory about universals. As far as the universals are concerned, we have also provided a general overview of this philosophical problem. A part of the project is also going to be dedicated to the analysis of Abelard’s version of the Rule of St. Benedict written for a community of nuns and its comparison with the original Rule of St. Benedict. The main sources this project is based on are “The Letters of Abelard and Heloise”, “Historia Calamitatum” and “Abelard’s Ethics”, also called “Scito te ipsum”. The summaries of the personal letters and the summary of the Rule of St. Benedict are included in the appendix.

We are going to offer our interpretation of the character of Peter Abelard and discuss his fate. Of course one could ask here ñ and what about Heloise? Isnít she worth a study? Our answer is yes, definitely, but due to the lack of material about her, we decided that it would be more fertile to concentrate on Abelard as we are able to see the different facets of his personality from his different writings. Further along we decided to put more emphasis on primary sources, as we believed that they would give us a better overview of the life of Peter Abelard. So we did not use a lot of secondary literature about Abelard, as we thought that it would only influence our own view on him. We also decided not to use The Lost Love Letters (ed. Constant J. Mews), a controversial collection of lately discovered letters. Some historians believe that they were written by Abelard and Heloise, but many others including our own supervisor consider them either a forgery or written by somebody else.

 Click here to read this thesis from Roskilde University Digital Archive

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