Published in 1405, Christine de Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies is considered a landmark text for feminist rights. Structured as an allegory in which three ladies depicting Reason, Justice, and Rectitude call upon the author while in her...
Christine de Pizan, born Cristina da Pizzano, was an Italian-born French poet during the medieval era. She served under the court of King Charles VI of France for most of her life.
She was born in 1364 in the Republic of Venice, Italy to Thomas de Pizan. The family's last name derived from their origins in Pizzano, a small village southeast of Bologna. Her father served as the court astrologer under King Charles V of France, giving Christine close proximity to the court at an early age. Christine moved to Paris in 1368 at the age of four. In 1379, at the age of 15, Christine married her husband, notary and royal secretary Etienne de Castil. The couple had three children before Etienne's untimely death in 1389, one year after Christine's father.
To support herself, her children, and her mother in the wake of her husband's death, Christine became a court writer under King Charles VI. She began writing love ballads, which earned her patronage from wealthy patrons in the court. Her prolific writing has earned her the title of the first professional female writer in Europe. Despite her Italian heritage, Christine expressed strong nationalist sentiments toward France, often writing intimately about the French royal family. In 1404, Christine authored a biography of King Charles V that portrayed him as a benevolent and ideal ruler.
Christine de Pizan's work is considered by many to be the earliest feminist writing in Europe. Her most well-known works are The Book of the City of Ladies and The Treasure of the City of Ladies (1405). These texts offer moral and practical advice to princesses, princes, and knights. They remained in print and widely read until the sixteenth century.