A Kid, A Castration, and A Convent: The Story of Abelard and Helowhat?!

The phrase “power couple” seems to be bandied about very loosely these days, much like “the next big thing” or “sexual harassment.” I mean, who gets to decide what truly constitutes greatness between two people who are banging but also bangin’. Rew couples in the history of hotties and/or high achievers have actually come close to power couple status. Par example:

Yeah, he knows what’s his.

Brangelina– Between them they’ve got an Oscar, 2 SAG awards, 3 Golden Globes and multiple nominations, as well as a huge body of philanthropic work, and are considered some of the most versatile actors of our generation. Plus they’re really fucking hot and worth like a bazillion dollars.

FDR & Eleanor– They single-handedly pulled the country out of the depths of economic and emotional depression, helped defeat the Third Reich, created multiple social programs, and let’s face it, cousins that are doin’ it is pretty sexy. You can’t say you haven’t thought about some covert affairs with those hotties from your dad’s side you only see at weddings and funerals.

Pete Wentz & Ashlee Simpson- Nuff Said.

But I digress. The simple fact of the matter is, no one has yet to measure up to the massive influence, individual brilliance, and raw fucking sexual magnetism of the medieval power couple, Peter Abelard and Heloise d’Argentueil. They were the the first great (and REAL, thank you, Tristan and Isolde, Romeo and Juliet, get your fictional asses out of here) star-crossed lovers. He, a Renaissance Man before it was cool or actually invented, and She, 22 years his junior (get over it) and considered one of the greatest minds of her time. When their intellects combined, the results reverberated across generations; when their bodies combined, it resulted in a scandal bigger than Goldman-Sachs’ profit margins. Because as I always say (which at least four people can attest to), the Middle Ages are just sex and God.

Some backstory: Peter Abelard grew up being one of those shit-poor noblemen who really didn’t have any prospects unless he learned his ass some letters and clawed his way up the nonexistent social ladder. Bro was born poor and died poor (spoiler). Since he was the oldest son in his family, and it was expected that he enter a life of military pursuits, as was common for the eldest boy in the medieval gentry. Instead he chose to become an academic, probably because he was “sensitive,” or “intellectual” or some crap like that. Thus Pete began a life of itinerant wandering where he would debate and study with various French academics for however long he thought their knowledge suited him, all the while creating a following of the medieval quivalent of undergrad English majors. He did genuinely think he was smarter than everyone else, but then again, he also knocked up a 16 year old, so you be the judge.

Abelard: moulding young minds, dropping preteen panties.

Eventually he became the most respected philosopher in continental Europe through a wildly popular public debate tour, in which Peter would show up at a university and publicly challenge the equivalent of the dean to an academic throw down. I’m guessing it was a lot like being at a hyper-literate Thunderdome.  Around 1115 he settled in Paris around 1115 and accepted the chair of a school at Notre-Dame.

This was a time of great intellectual flourishing in the Middle Ages (yeah, it’s a fucking fact), particularly in France, and Peter owned that shit, calling himself “The only undefeated philosopher in the world.” Around that time he would finally meet his match in the pre-teen prodigy, who’s talents with the classical tongues would only be matched by those of her mouth-tongue…. eyhhhh…..

Heloise was probably 12 or 13 when her uncle, and ward, first contacted Peter to be her tutor, but she was already renowned for being a real goddamn smarty-pants with ancient texts, as well as her insightful and intellectual writings. The two apparently really hit it off, even though he was almost 40 and she was still in a training bra, BUT, intellectual love and inappropriate sexual desire know no bounds. Under Peter’s tutelage, Heloise became a formidable philosopher and dynamite in the sack, and  even once their affair was discovered, they continued to meet in secret for sexy, sexy readings on the stimulating topics of ‘Atonement,’ ‘Conceptualism,’ and that perennial favorite, ‘Nominalism.’ Unfortunately, they were discovered once again when Heloise got pregnant (oops.), so her uncle came and chopped off Peter’s Little Peter in the night, then shipped her MTV-ready ass off to a convent.

(P.S. She named her son Astrolabe, like the new-fangled instrument that used triangles and shit for navigation/science. Wutevr. Suck it, Gwenyth Paltrow.)
But aside from this steamy and sensational affair—which Peter tried to cover up with a quicky marriage to save his career, and to which Heloise was like ‘bitch please’—the letters between the two after they have effectively been separated forever by vows of the cloth, are some of the most poignant, original and truly human pieces of writing that survive from the Middle Ages. An entire relationship in an of itself is played out in their correspondence, including high points (fond reminiscing and exchange of ideas) and low points (‘Hey Heloise, maybe I didn’t really love you. Yeah, sorry.’), but what shines through is the sheer brilliance of both parties.

As well as the sex. So, so much sex.


The adorable couple, showing off their new wallpaper.