The Book of the City of Ladies is an allegorical society in which the word "lady" is defined as a woman of noble spirit, instead of noble birth. The book, and therefore the city, contains women of past eras, ranging from pagans to ancient Jews to medieval Christian saints. The book includes discussion between Christine de Pizan and the three female Virtues which are sent to aid Christine build the city. These Virtues – Reason, Rectitude, and Justice – help Christine build the foundations and houses of the city, as well as pick the women who will reside in the city of ladies. Each woman chosen by the Virtues to live in the city acts as a positive example for other women to follow. These women are also examples of the positive influences women have had on society.
Christine asks the virtues if women should be taught as men are and why some men think women should not be educated. Other questions that are explored are: the criminality of rape, the natural affinity in women to learn, and their talent for government.