Quae Maternae Immemor Naturae: The Rhetorical Struggle Over the Meaning of Motherhood in the Writings of Heloise and Abelard

  • Juanita Feros Ruys
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


It has long been thought that the issue of Heloise’s motherhood in general and her mothering of her son, Astrolabe, in particular were not issues of great importance to Heloise and Abelard. Scholars point to Abelard’s mention of Astrolabe in his Historia calamitatum, his later verses of advice to his son, and Heloise’s entreaty to Peter the Venerable regarding Astrolabe’s future as representing the sum total of their interest in the subject.1 Nothing could be further from the truth. As I intend to show, the issue of Heloise’s status and practice as mother was a topic of great contention between Heloise and Abelard throughout their monastic careers.


Sexual Jealousy Maternal Love Ideological Construction Maternal Feeling Young Widow 
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© Bonnie Wheeler 2000

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  • Juanita Feros Ruys

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