CHRISTINE DE PIZAN AND HER NOBLE FRIENDS
THL Isabelle de Foix
Note: My background is in social science (social history), not literature. This is not a discussion of Christine’s works. I can’t tell you why some critics consider her first poems, called ballades, "tentative", for example. Rather, this is about Christine’s life and those who shaped her. Without further ado……
Christine de Pizan (1364-c. 1430) was born in Venice. Both her father and her grandfather were graduates of the University of Bologna. They were taught the science of medicine at this, the oldest university in Europe. They were also both active in Venetian politics, both being members of the Venetian government for a time. The family’s name was originally Pizzano, and was spelled either Pizan or Pisan by the French. When she was four or five years old her father was appointed court physician to the King of France and the family moved to Paris. Thus, Christine was exposed to the people and ways of the French royal court from an early age. The court of Charles V was full of scholars. The King himself organized a library of classics in his palace, the Louvre. She never ceased to consider herself an Italian in a strange country. Her Italian background was evident in her basic intellectual formation. This came from her father. Most of her intellectual influences were Italian; these included Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, particularly Petrarch. When she was fifteen she was married to a notary, Master Etienne de Castel, who was twenty-four years old. He was a graduate of the University of Paris. This meant that he had spent at least six years in long, difficult studies at the University. The year of their marriage, 1380, he was given a court position and his future looked promising. This was important; that year Charles V died and her father lost his Court position, including the generous pensions the position had carried. Christine gave birth to three children, and the marriage was very happy—even though the couple’s parents, not them, had arranged it. Etienne and Christine both loved learning and the company of other intelligent and well-educated people. Then tragedy struck these idyllic lives. After ten years of marriage, in 1390, Etienne died suddenly during an epidemic while he was attending the King on an official journey. He was only thirty-four years old. It is believed that the epidemic was one of the returns of the bubonic and pneumonic plagues that had caused the Black Death between 1346 and 1349. Christine was left to fend for herself in a hostile, materialistic society. She had to find a way to support her family, which included her three children and her mother. She was completely unprepared to become a widow. Her two brothers had both moved back to Italy to claim their father’s estates; they could not make livings in France. Unfortunately, some of the people who owed her money claimed that they’d already given it to her, and one particularly dishonest man prevented her from claiming land that her husband had bought. She was also involved in a costly lawsuit. No one would help her. "God knows what torments assailed me when the bailiffs would come off to carry off some of my dear possessions", she wrote in "The Vision". Facing financial ruin, and terrible embarrassment as a result, she went to work. Her first job was that of a copyist. It is believed that she had learned the copyists’ art from watching her husband work. By this time the copyist’s occupation was secularized; the universities and other institutions of learning as well as religious establishments were soliciting manuscripts for books. This was one of the few job markets open to women during this period, and it made perfect sense for a learned woman to work in the book industry.
Some might balk at the reference to Christine de Pizan as a "feminist" because she did not believe in the "equality" of the sexes. She never objected to the notion of wives being subservient to their husbands. So how did she advocate dignity and respect for women? She did believe that women should have the opportunities to use the talents and capabilities that they had. It is proper to say that she was an advocate of her sex. She put this belief into practice. She solved the problems in her life herself; she did not need a man to "save" her. She broke out of her depression following the great trials in her life by starting a literary career. In fact, she took up poetry to ease the pain of the loss of her husband. When she tried prose, that worked, too. The one problem in her life that she was unable to solve was almost life-long widowhood, which she clearly found frustrating. By the same token, she cites "the burden of childbearing" as a reason that she had not studied as much as she had wished, as well as what she called "duties as a married woman", helping her husband. But Christine was not the kind of woman to brood over her misfortune, even though she did feel like exorcising her painful emotional demons in her autobiographical "Vision". She went on with her life, never asking for pity. She aspired to fame and immortality, as did other writers of her time. A highly intelligent and well-educated woman, Christine was out to use her talents and capabilities to get the things she wanted for herself, her family, and her gender. The rewards were noteworthy. William Caxton, the first English user of the moveable type printing press, translated and published one of her works at the end of the fifteenth century. He called her "the mistress and mirror of intelligence". Others praised her learning, and compared her to Cicero and other noted male writers. Since medieval society held tradition in high esteem and novelty and innovation with hostility and fear, a comparison to the great and talented of the past was the ultimate compliment.
Christine’s first works were "ballades", or poems, and her first patron was the King of France’s brother, Louis, Duke of Orleans. She started these in 1399, she tells us. She had several patrons. These included the Dukes of Burgundy, Brabant, Limburg, and King Charles VI and his Queen, Isabeaux of Bavaria. She was commissioned to write books about deceased royal personages like King Charles V of France, the brother of the Duke of Burgundy. She is perhaps best known as the author of a book called "The Book of the City of Ladies", which was loosely modeled on St. Augustine’s "City of God" and Dante’s "Divine Comedy". It is, like other medieval literature, highly allegorical. In allegory, intangibles are represented as people. The book is a conversation between Christine and three Virtues, which were represented as ladies: Rectitude, Justice, and Reason. They come to her in her study. She told them that she was depressed and angry about being a woman. The Ladies told her that she was giving in to self-doubt, something that she should not do. They told her to set about building a "City of Ladies" to protect good women from misogyny. They told her to attack a popular French poem called "The Romance of the Rose". This poem was written by two very different poets. The first was Guillaume de Lorris, who died between 1225 and 1240. De Lorris was in the courtly love tradition of the troubadours and trouveres. His work was a "dream allegory"; setting the poem in a dream allowed de Lorris freedom to write about fantasy elements. The main character fell in love with a rose. The rose symbolized a woman and her sexual attractiveness. The second poet, Jean Meung, died in 1305. In contrast to de Lorris, Meung was satirical, irreverent and coarse, using obscenities like toys. He believed that the only reason women lived on the planet was to have babies. There is an allegorical character in "The Rose" called Dame Reason. She discredits herself—and her sex—by telling an extremely vulgar story about Jupiter’s castration of Saturn. Meung’s supporters claimed that this story was supposed to belong to Dame Reason, not Meung. Christine replied that this was precisely her problem with the story; Dame Reason would have never told such a vulgar story. So she and her allegorical partners undertook the building of the City of Ladies. Christine groaned that she didn’t have the strength to build a city; wasn’t construction a man’s job? No, said Dame Reason, picking up a huge pile of dirt, the dirt and filth of misogyny. Eventually, they had the whole city built, complete with houses, a city wall with turrets, and other buildings. In it live noteworthy women of the past, all of whom are immortal. These include Cassandra, the Trojan prophetess no one would believe, but who was always right; Minerva, who taught people letters; Arachne, who taught women how to spin flax, and Ceres, who taught the human race agriculture. The book was an attack on a powerful institution in the Middle Ages, courtly love, a concept started by the troubadours and continued by writers of the Arthurian Cycle like Chretien de Troyes. In courtly love, men loved aristocratic ladies as dizzy goddesses. But they were inspired to good duties out their own love for these ladies, not because of them. They were in servitude to these ladies; these ladies were not responsible for their lovers’ virtuous deeds on their behalf. Christine attacked courtly love as hypocritical and deceptive. In real life, a man could honor a lady and turn right around and stab her in the back. Courtly love was, of course, a strictly aristocratic ethic; the lady was always a queen or a noble. We often over-idealize life at medieval courts. Christine saw plenty of the dark side of medieval court life: political assassinations, kidnappings, and incestuous affairs.
Christine’s follow-up to "City of Ladies" was "A Mirror of Honor: the Treasury of the City of Ladies". This work is also in the framework of allegory, but some concrete details of daily life come to work in the narrative. It showcases Christine’s tendency to be a practical moralist. The conversation in this book, as in the City of Ladies, is between Christine and the three Virtues represented as ladies, Dame Reason, Dame Rectitude, and Dame Justice. They want Christine to continue in their service; therefore she must pick up her pen again. They refer to her as Christine; name using like this was almost unheard of in medieval literature. More common was Margery Kempe’s reference to herself as "this creature". Christine early on asserted herself as a woman writer. The use of the word "mirror" in the title is noteworthy. The symbolism of the mirror meant that a person should be able to see himself or herself in it. Thus a princess should have been able to see herself while reading about proper behavior for a lady of her station. The same was true for the wives of merchants and artisans. Christine was a very religious woman, as were many other people in late medieval society. Thus, the first piece of advice she gave women was to observe their religious duties. She also condemns certain vices, which she believed gave woman a bad name, the tools that male moralists used to describe women as inherently evil. These were extravagance, envy, indolence, and upward social class mobility. In some ways, Christine was very conservative. She, like most people in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, looked on the authority of her time as God-ordained. This authority was based on the social and political organization of medieval France, the feudal system of manor and serf, of the vassal swearing fealty to his lord. The power of the merchants and others of the middle class was starting to be a threat to the power of the monarchy and the aristocracy, causing these traditional authorities considerable anxiety. The economy was changing from one based on land as worth to one based on money, giving those who could make huge fortunes—the merchants—power. This made royalty and aristocrats feel threatened, and they protected their positions by emphasizing their peculiarities, such as titles, rank, and sumptuary laws regarding spending limits for members of untitled subjects. The nobility maintained their tax-exempt status as members of the First Estate; the Second Estate, the clergy, was likewise tax-exempt and politically powerful as well. It was everyone else—the Third Estate, which included the middle class—who paid all of the taxes and had no political power, but already it was causing much anxiety among her royal and aristocratic patrons. Parisian merchants had been greatly angered over the heavy taxation to pay for the Hundred Years’ War, particularly after devastating French defeats at Crecy (1346) and Poitiers (1356). Royalty and aristocracy, of course, were Christine’s patrons. As much as she criticized immorality and frivolousness at royal and aristocratic courts she never questioned the institutionalization of the differing roles and perceived worth of people in feudal society. But Christine was no intellectual slave. Her own Italian heritage and her subsequent ties to the Italian Renaissance led her to some conclusions that had not occurred to earlier writers. One of these was a radical concept of marriage. The Church had always taught that the sole purpose of marriage was procreation. Christine believed that the most important aspect of marriage was companionship between the spouses; procreation was secondary to this. No doubt her memories of her relationship with Etienne du Castel had something to do with this idea. The Protestants were later to use this idea to legitimize divorce, a conclusion that Christine most likely would have found startling. Still, her attack on "The Rose" was motivated by the fact that it had become an authority, a veritable institution, in France. To promote her sex, Christine felt like she had to undermine its prestige. Still, "The Rose" had much staying power. In modern French, "un roman a l’eau de rose", which literally means "romance of rosewater" is a common reference to romance novels.
Some modern critics complain that Christine’s advice put too much emphasis on traditional female propriety rather than intellectual accomplishments. She advised "young virgins" to be clean, humble in behavior, prudent, quiet, demure, obedient to their parents, modest, and chaste. She advised parents to exercise caution in what they let their daughters read; they shouldn’t be reading of "vain things, follies, or dissipation". In truth, Christine balanced the value of intellectual achievement with the importance of character. She didn’t want girls wasting their time reading bad literature. She even advised wives to be subservient to their husbands, as we have seen. "It is not always the best thing for creatures ("creations" of God) to be independent", she wrote in "The City of Ladies". I do not think that this should be held against Christine. How "modern" can you expect someone who lived in the late Middle Ages to be? It would be grossly unjust to judge her by twenty-first century standards.
When one reads "Mirror", some preconceived notions about medieval society get thrown to the four winds. Contrary to popular belief, the late medieval princess or lady of rank did not exactly live a leisured life. For these women, their power carried onerous responsibilities. They started their day at dawn getting dressed, after which they attended mass. Getting up early was important; the household needed to be run from sunrise to sunset. The lady boss might have to go to the fields to make sure the workers weren’t sleeping on the job, or she might have field supervisors that had to report to her. She then might consult with ministers of state all morning, and then preside over a noontime feast. The guests were served different dishes according to their rank. The hostess was obliged to speak to all of her guests, asking them if she could be of any assistance to them and delivering on her promises. After this she had to attend to her financial books, a matter of no small importance. Medieval women of this estate had to maintain five types of expense accounts: gifts to the poor, financing her household, paying her officers and court ladies, gifts to strangers or to her subjects "who evidence particular merit", such as artists, writers, scientists; generosity was a virtue. It is interesting that the expense account Christine mentions fifth is the lady’s own expense account for fine gowns and all of her other apparel as well as jewels.
After this, the lady paid a visit to the nursery. Even though she had servants to help her with the children, she had to guide their education and make sure they were trained for their futures as noblemen and noblewomen in their own right. She had to take interest in those less fortunate than she does, so she might visit a hospital, institutions that mainly took in poor sick people; the prosperous were cared for in their homes. Back at the palace, there was supervision of the preparation of the evening meal. Maintaining good relationships with the merchants was crucial, so she had to be present at all transactions with merchants who sold spices and other imported delicacies. She tasted all of the wine and beer being made by the vintners. By this time sunset beckoned and the lady made haste to vespers mass.
Of course these ladies didn’t lack for leisure activities. They went to chase; they sailed on boats, they danced, they sang. The high-born lady might also have entertainment at the evening meal from singers, dancers, jugglers, and other performers.
Reading this book, one gets some wind of Christine’s taste in clothes. She abhorred extravagance, and firmly supported sumptuary laws. Sumptuary laws, in the Middle Ages, defined what members of various classes were allowed to own and what they were not. Only certain classes were allowed to wear jewels, expensive fabrics like silk or fine linen, and own certain luxury items. Christine believed that extravagance potentially caused impoverishment, set a bad example for children, and was generally pretentious. "Nothing is more ridiculous than to see a woman pretending to have great, exaggerated status," she says in "The Mirror of Honor". This is a clear exposition of the mentality of the late medieval middle class; as a whole the French were not yet ready for the French Revolution, despite the restiveness of the merchants of Paris. She describes a "simple" lady who placed an order with a Parisian dressmaker for a gown. The lady had purchased five ells (in Paris, an ell was the distance between the extended middle finger and the elbow) of brocade from Brussels which was "shot" with gold thread. In fact, this sort of material was known in Paris as "Brussels material". Modern writers on period garb call it "shot silk". The gown made out of this by the Parisian dressmaker had bombard sleeves, sleeves that swept on the ground. This was some of the most exaggerated garb ever worn in the Middle Ages, and Christine thoroughly despised it. She also disapproved of the high "horned" hats, which were in fashion at the time. Already, fashionable Parisians changed their fashions every year. Most other Europeans did not. Christine much preferred the more restrained fashions of her native Italy.
A story in "Mirror of Honor" illustrates Christine’s basic conservatism. A scandal erupted in Paris, over, of all things, the birth of a child. It was the custom at the time for women to go to the home of a woman who was giving birth to a baby. This was called a "lying-in". Before entering her room, Christine and the other guests walked through two splendid chambers, which contained furnishings covered with silver vessels. Then the women entered the room itself. The room was full of tapestries of red and gold portraying her family’s coat of arms. The gold thread used for the embroidery had been imported from Cyprus. The women’s sheets were made out of very expensive fabric—toile. Over this there was linen as fine as silk, "all in one piece without seams", a recent invention. It was very expensive. The woman was sitting up, leaning on a pillow made out of the same material and covered with pearls. Christine was shocked. This was not the socially accepted lifestyle for those without titles. The lying-in was the talk of Paris. The controversy was even discussed in the Queen’s chamber. The Queen, Isabeaux of Bavaria, was not a person any sensible person wanted to make jealous, for reasons we will later discuss. What was the answer to the problem of the breaking of the sumptuary laws? Simple—higher taxes or maybe even a few confiscations! Heck, this wasn’t even good business!
Christine finished the book in February of 1406 and was paid for it by the Duke of Burgundy, John the Fearless. It was dedicated to his daughter, Marguerite. It is unclear if Marguerite’s parents, John and his Duchess, Marguerite of Burgundy had commissioned the book. . Her grandfather, Duke Philip the Bold of Burgundy who died in 1404, could have commissioned it. Marguerite had quite a turbulent life, since she was a pawn in political disputes between England, France and powerful Burgundy during the Hundred Years’ War. Born in 1393, she was betrothed to the heir to the French throne at the age of eleven months. She was presumably in line to become Queen of France; the Duke of Burgundy wished to continue his political dominance of the French court. Before she had left the nursery she was even being called "Madame la Dauphine".
Unfortunately for these plans, Marguerite’s fiancé died in 1401. She was then betrothed to the Dauphin’s younger brother Louis of Guyenne. These two children were married in 1404, although a French chronicler claimed that the marriage was not consummated until 1409. Marguerite was then sent to the French court, and Christine went with her. The French court, such as it was, was not a good place for a young princess to grow up in. The King, Charles VI, was insane and little more than a figurehead. The Queen, Isabella of Bavaria (commonly called Isabeau or Isabeaux—standardized spelling isn’t period), was a frivolous, vain, and extravagant woman. There is no doubt that many of Christine’s unflattering comments about extravagant and lazy women in high places were veiled criticisms of the Queen. She was unfaithful to her husband, having an affair with her brother-in-law, the King’s brother, Louis, Duke of Orleans. The Queen had secured the banishment from Court of Louis’ wife, the Duchess of Orleans. . A political dispute was heating up between the Duke of Burgundy and Louis, which caused a veritable storm at the French court.
Duke John of Burgundy came to the French court in 1405, supposedly to swear fealty to the French Crown for the county of Flanders. He came at the head of a good-sized army. Louis found out about the army and left the court, taking the Queen with him. They called for the Duke and Duchess of Guyenne—Louis and Marguerite—to join them at a royal hunting lodge a few miles north of Paris. Marguerite’s father caught the young couple traveling and sent them back to Paris, where they took refuge in the royal palace, the Louvre. For awhile it looked like civil war might break out; fortunately, the armies were disbanded by October of 1405.
There is no mention of this political dispute in Christine’s book for Marguerite. It was not her place to discuss politics in this book. She was aware that young Marguerite was facing a life full of danger, and the young princess did indeed need guidance for her personal and public life. When she was eighteen, Louis of Guyenne died. She now had no chance of becoming Queen of France, and she moved back to Burgundy. Her father was assassinated in 1419 and her brother, Philip the Good, became Duke of Burgundy. He arranged a marriage between Marguerite and Arthur, the younger brother of the Duke of Brittany, who was being held as a prisoner in England, even though there was a considerable social gap between Marguerite, a princess by birth and a former Dauphine, and Arthur, a count. According to some accounts, Marguerite was none too pleased at this social mismatch, but she at last agreed to do it to further the political agenda of Burgundy. She also already knew him from the French court, and she became a valuable supporter and partner to him. Her first act as his fiancée was to refuse to marry him unless he was released from captivity. This facilitated his release; he returned to Brittany and the couple was married in 1423. They lived on an estate called Richmont, in the Chateau de Chinon. For a short time Marguerite’s husband fell from favor at the court of Charles VII, who offered Marguerite protection provided she would renounce her husband. Marguerite would do no such thing. Instead, she escaped from the chateau and joined her husband at another estate on the Loire. She supervised his estate while he was away at war fighting England for France in the war. The couple returned to Paris after the city was liberated from English control in 1436. She lived there until her death ten years later. By continuing to live in Paris, she eased tensions between Burgundy and the French court. No doubt she had learned much from Christine’s book. The titles of the chapters devoted to proper behavior for a princess had names like "Which speaks of Prudence’s fourth teaching: How the princess will maintain a discreet manner even toward those whom she well knows do not like her and are jealous of her" and "Which speaks of Prudence’s second teaching: the way in which the princess will conduct herself toward her lord’s relatives". Clearly Marguerite had had her hands full at the French court, during her widow’s years in Burgundy, and then her time at the chateaux of Arthur. She was advised to show courtesy and respect to them at all times. She could not afford to make enemies in social situations; politics took care of this peril.
Who was Queen Isabeaux, and why did she bring such a wretched reputation on herself? She was born Elisabeth von Wittelsbach, the ruling house of the Duchy of Bavaria, around 1371. A German marriage to the Dauphin Charles was needed for political reasons as Bohemia had gained the alliance of England by royal marriage. After all, royalty couldn’t marry for love or affection in the Middle Ages. They married for politics only. Thus Elizabeth married King Charles. This couple was married in 1385, five years after Charles became King. In 1388 Charles took power and ruled well for four years. Then, in 1392, he suffered his first bout of "insanity". He couldn’t recognize Isabeaux and asked the strange woman to stop bothering him. No one could stand him, so they ignored him. How would you like to be married to a man who refused to change clothes for five days, and resisted a bath until subjected to one by the force of a dozen strong men? The King of France wondered about his palace vermin-infested. No one asked potential queen consorts questions like this in the late fourteenth century. The highborn consort was expected to be obedient, chaste, sweet-tempered, pious, and kind.
In July of 1405 an incident took place which sealed Isabeaux’s reputation. Isabeaux and Louis were out hunting near the lodge. Suddenly a violent thunderstorm broke out, and the couple took refuge in Isabeaux’s coach. The horses madly dashed towards the Seine, and only stopped under the control of the coachman. Meanwhile the castle where the dauphin was staying was struck by lightning. The exact date—July 12—of this event is known because of its notoriety. It was looked on as an omen. It was a sign to Louis and Isabeaux to stop their recklessly extravagant expenditures, which were a strain on the Treasury and a burden on the Third Estate’s taxpayers. Isabeaux’ reputation was shot; prior to the event, Isabeaux was quite popular. In 1402 she had been granted power to rule in her insane husband’s absence from affairs of state, which had required a fair amount of trust in Isabeaux from the King’s counselors. . There is a theory that Christine meant to dedicate "Mirror of Honor" to Isabeaux, but changed her mind after this incident occurred. Of course, this is inconsistent with the notion that the book had been commissioned by the Duke of Burgundy for Marguerite. But as we have seen this commission is not clear, either. However, it is worth noting that Christine never gave a copy of the book to Isabeaux. Louis of Orleans was assassinated in November of 1407. The French court was on shaky ground as it came under threat by a strong claimant, Henry V of England, especially after the disastrous Battle of Agincourt (1415). To appease the English victors, Charles V claimed that the Dauphin was not his son and disowned him in favor of Henry V of England. Considering his wife’s lifestyle, that was no surprise. Queen Isabeaux was content to accept a nice annuity for being publicly exposed as an adulteress, so how could she claim that Charles had to be her son? This agreement was called the Treaty of Troyes and was signed in 1420. Isabeaux’s daughter, Catherine of Valois, was married to Henry V as part of this treaty. Isabeaux loved expensive dresses and jewels; she was only too happy to accept money to indulge her lavish tastes. While the French didn’t care to give Isabeaux too much room in their history books, they rounded up enough information to make her look like the Queen of Vice, and a perfect example of why misogyny was perfectly acceptable to all self-respecting men. The whole matter became moot when Henry V died in 1422, leaving the nine-month old Henry VI as his heir to the throne of England. Charles was able to secure the throne of France; Henry VI was completely unfit for kingship as he hated politics and wars. He had no desire to press for his rights to the French throne.
We don’t know much of Christine’s life between 1406 and 1418, but it seems to have been exceptionally difficult. She was devastated by the assassination of Louis of Orleans in 1407. In 1410 she wrote a book called "Lamentations on the Civil War". Then she wrote a book called "The Book of Feats of Arms and Chivalry", which was the work later translated and printed by William Caxton on his printing press. This book contained protests against particularly ugly consequences of wars. This included a complaint about the common practice of running through a peasant’s field during a battle and destroying a solid year of crops, often causing the peasants to starve to death. Christine asked why the peasants had to put up with this; she never got an answer. She cites the capture of an English student at the University of Paris by French troops as another injustice caused by war. She pointed out that this student had devoted his life to learning and had no interest in politics. For all of her social and political conservatism, Christine learned much about the ugly realities of late medieval politics and social interaction during her years at three courts and some of her views expressed in these works were a product of her growth as a writer and observer of events. In 1415 France suffered a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Agincourt. Three years after this, thoroughly distressed at the mess her country was in as a result of the war, Christine retired to a convent. She was encouraged by the early successes of Joan of Arc against the English, and wrote a "Hymn to Joan of Arc" in 1429. She died soon after she wrote this, probably still in a convent.
While Christine de Pizan did not try to prove women to be men’s equals, and consequently did not, she was determined to show that women could do something besides have babies. She wrote on the duties on women rulers to show that they could be entrusted with power; she wrote with learning the show that women could indeed be learned, and she wrote for money to prove that they too could earn livings without becoming servants. In succeeding in just about every endeavor she undertook, she broke a great deal of ground for women’s opportunities for her posterity. We are all in her debt.
Pizan, Christine de, "Mirror of Honor", completed in 1406. Translated by Charity Cannon Willard, and edited by Madeline Pelner Cosman. Bard Hall Press and Persea Books, New York, 1989.
Pizan, Christine de, "Writings of Christine de Pizan", edited by Charity Cannon Willard, Persea Books, New York, 1994
Quilligan, Maureen, "The Allegory of Female Authority: Christine de Pizan’s Cite de Dames" ("City of Ladies"), Cornell University Press, 1991
Cosman, Madeleine Pelner, "Christine de Pizan’s Well-Tempered Feminism", introduction to Christine’s "Mirror of Honor", Bard Hall Press and Persea Books, New York, 1989.
Willard, Charity Cannon, "Christine de Pizan’s Advice to Women", introduction to Christine’s "Mirror of Honor", Bard Hall Press and Persea Books, New York, 1989
Labarge, Margaret Wade, A Small Sound of the Trumpet, Women in Medieval Life,
Beacon Press, Boston, 1986
Williams, Marty, and Echols, Anne, Between Pit and Pedestal: Women in the Middle Ages, Markus Wiener Publishers, 1994