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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  February 2003

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION February 2003

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Subject:

Re: Vesting ceremony in the 12thC

From:

"Ms Brenda M. Cook" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 18 Feb 2003 22:04:13 -0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (112 lines)

medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Dear Christina,
The rest of the List will know that I have some very unorthodox ideas about
Abelard & Heloise. This is one of the situations in which I offer a very
different explanation from the traditional one, but one which I think makes
more sense.

Helose had gone to the nunnery at Argenteuil (where she had lived as a girl)
because her uncle, Canon Fulbert in whose house she was living, had insulted
her.

We do not know whether these insults were harsh words or if he had shown her
violence. I believe he had shown her violence and had maybe even attempted
to rape her.

What is clear is that this time Heloise left Fulbert's house in a hurry,
unlike the elopement to Brittany which had been carefully planned.

It seems likely to me that Heloise arrived at Argenteuil with only the
clothes she was wearing. If Fulbert had assulted her, these clothes might be
torn or damaged.

Before Abelard married Heloise, it was Canon Fulbert's duty as her male
next-of-kin to provide Heloise with clothes.

Now that they were married it was Abelard's duty as her husband to provide
her with clothes.

In the Middle Ages, you could not buy clothes from a store! Garments had to
be individually sewn.

At Argenteuil, in the wardrobe, there would be cloth suitable only for nuns'
and novices' habits. They also had the needlework skill to make these
clothes.

Since Heloise was already at Argenteuil, it would have seemed the easiest
thing for Abelard to ask the nuns to make Heloise a new dress and he would
pay for it. The dress would be in the style of a novice's dress because that
was all they could make.

The emphasis that Heloise was NOT wearing the veil seems to show that there
was no ceremonial or ritual involved at all. It was just a matter of
practical necessity.

However, when the story got back to Canon Fulbert (who was already
emotionally disturbed and very angry that Heloise had run away again) he
mis-understood what he had been told - with the results we know.

Plenty of women took refuge in nunneries without planning to be nuns. It was
a safe, decent, respectable and often friendly and familiar place for a
woman to go if she had family or personal difficulties.

I do not believe for one moment that Abelard was planning to repudiate
Heloise by taking her to Argenteuil. I think he was doing a sensible thing
in an emergency - taking her to a safe and familiar place.

I don't think at this point they were planning a future at all - events were
spiralling out of control.

We shall see if any of the rest agree with my interpretation!

Brenda M.C.


----- Original Message -----
From: "CF" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 8:05 PM
Subject: [M-R] Vesting ceremony in the 12thC


> medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
>
> In _Historia Calamitatum_  Abelard says he himself dressed
> Heloise -except for the veil-  (excepto velo, aptari feci et his eam
indui)
> when she went to Argenteuil some time after they had got married.
>
> Does anyone know what exactly  he meant by 'I dressed her'?
> Did he 'actually' put the habit on her? Or was it just an expression?
> I would like to know  what the vesting ceremony  was like.
>
> Best,
>
> Christina
> [log in to unmask]
>
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