Council of Sens

1141. This most important of the many councils held in the French town was called to hear the charges of heresy launched against Abelard* by Bernard of Clairvaux.* In 1121 Abelard had been forced to burn his own works, particularly his treatise on the Trinity, on the ground that he was advocating tritheism. Abelard was later charged by William of St. Thierry* with thirteen errors concerning the doctrines of the Trinity, the person of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the grace of God in the redemption of man. Although Abelard had personally accused Bernard of instituting novel practices at Clairvaux, Bernard nevertheless visited Abelard in a vain effort to persuade him to retract his errors. Abelard refused to retract. Bernard came to Sens determined to have Abelard condemned for his heresy, and formally presented charges against him. Abelard refused to defend himself and appealed the case to Innocent II, apparently expecting to receive a more friendly hearing by the pope. But Innocent declared Abelard a heretic and imposed on him the penalty of perpetual silence and banishment.