10 of History's Most Torrid Love Affairs

Abelard and Heloise
Abelard and Heloise started out as tutor and student. Apic/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Although this passionate love affair took place nearly 1,000 years ago, it still makes for a powerful story today. Heloise was a bright, gifted student in 12th-century Paris who wanted most of all to answer the question of human existence. To help further her studies, her uncle Fulbert, canon of Notre Dame, enlisted the assistance of Peter Abelard, an outstanding philosopher. Abelard began to tutor Heloise, and although he was 20 years her senior, the two fell deeply in love [source: Abelard and Heloise].

Soon Heloise was pregnant. A scandal was imminent, so the couple fled to Brittany, Abelard's home. Fulbert found out and was furious, and the two got married in an attempt to appease him. He wasn't satisfied, though. Heloise escaped to a convent in Argenteuil, but Abelard was attacked and castrated. They left their son, Astrolabe, in the care of Abelard's sister and ultimately took holy orders as a monk and nun [source: Abelard and Heloise].

Although Abelard and Heloise were separated for years, their love relationship lives on through their correspondence. Today, they are interred together in Paris' Pére Lachaise cemetery.