Heloise and the Paraclete
In 1127, Peter Abelard gave up the school that he had established around the oratory of the Paraclete in order to take a position as abbot of St.Gildas-de-Ruys, in Brittany. In the Historia calamitatum, written about 1132, not long after he had physically escaped from the region, Abelard presents himself as having being driven to take refuge in the West by the jealousy of the French, just as Jerome had been driven to the East by the jealousy of the Romans. He complains that he did not understand the language (or perhaps the dialect) of the region, and that the monks of St.Gildas refused to accept the reforms that he wished to implement. Apparently many of them kept mistresses and had fathered children. Abelard's life was also complicated by the demands placed on the abbey by a local magnate. He recalls that this was a moment of severe crisis, as he reflected that nothing he had started seemed to bear fruit. The saying of Jesus, “This man started to build, and he could not finish” (Luke 14:30), seemed dangerously apposite. Abelard does not reveal whether he continued to write during these early years at St.-Gildas. This was a time of radical crisis, when he was no longer able to function as a teacher supported by his students.
The turning point came in April 1129 when Heloise and her fellow nuns were expelled by Suger of St.-Denis from the abbey at Argenteuil on