Heloïse d'Argenteuil, writer, scholar, and abbess, is well known for her love affair with philosopher and theologian, Pierre Abélard. They had fallen in love and secretly married in 1116 while Abélard was Heloïse's tutor in Paris, but when her family discovered the relationship they attacked and castrated Abélard, causing the two lovers to be separated for many years. Abélard became a monk, and, at his insistence, Heloïse became a nun. But a chance discovery allowed Heloïse to locate Abelard after many years, and soon they began to write to each other. Seven letters remain, showing Heloïse's spirit, defiance of social rules and her physical and emotional love for Abélard.
"You know, beloved, as the whole world knows, how much I have lost in you, how at one wretched stroke of fortune that supreme act of flagrant treachery robbed me of my very self in robbing me of you; and how my sorrow for my loss is nothing compared with what I feel for the manner in which I lost you.
Surely the greater the cause for grief the greater the need for the help of consolation, and this no one can bring but you; you are the sole cause of my sorrow, and you alone can grant me the grace of consolation. You alone have the power to make me sad, to bring me happiness or comfort; you alone have so great a debt to repay me, particularly now when I have carried out all your orders so implicitly that when I was powerless to oppose you in anything, I found strength at your command to destroy myself.
I did more, strange to say—my love rose to such heights of madness that it robbed itself of what it most desired beyond hope of recovery, when immediately at your bidding I changed my clothing along with my mind, in order to prove you the sole possessor of my body and my will alike. God knows I never sought anything in you except yourself; I wanted simply you, nothing of yours."