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St. Germain des Pres (Paris, 1000 AD)

St. Germain des Pres was already standing in Heloise’s time (Paris, 1000 AD)

We used to tell Heloise and Abelard as a love story, but I hope now we are more able to see it for what it is: an older teacher taking advantage of his position to have sex with a much younger student. And Heloise’s story can help us see how complicated this can be: they remained friends most of the rest of their lives. Was Heloise upset at how things turned out? It’s hard to say.

It’s also a story about the terrible way enforcing chastity on Catholic priests and monks messed up (and continues to mess up) people’s lives. In Abelard’s time, chastity was pretty new for churchmen, still.

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