: Dante vivo || White Silence



APPENDICI: Female City Builders: Hildegard von Bingen's Scivias and Christine de Pizan's Livre de la cité des dames, prof.ssa Christine McWebb, University of Alberta, Canada (English); Dante Alighieri e Christine de Pizan, prof.ssa Ester Zago, University of Colorado, Boulder (English)



{ Urban centres in their rudimentary form existed as far back as the tenth century in the Western World, usually as fortified cities built around church and castle. Their toponymy of mons, poggio or castro underlines the importance of the fortification walls to protect those who lived inside and refers to the early city's customary elevated location./1 Though these first agglomerations were for many reasons often doomed for failure and their life span was ephemeral, they share the need for protection with their later counterparts. The new urban culture which only fully took off in the twelfth century signified a revolutionary transformation in medieval life by separating agriculture and trade for the first time in occidental history, by expediting the exchange of goods and of knowledge and last but not least the walled city of the High Middle Ages offered more efficient protection from outside forces.

It is thus not surprising that the symbol of building a fortified city was often used to represent God's creation of the world in early Christianity. The monastery as a symbolic microcosm of the universe reflects this in its ideal form. As Lewis Mumford has pointed out, with its emphasis on enclosure, protection, security, durability and continuity, the monastery expresses in architecture and symbolism the same needs as the urban centre./2 The enemy here, more than political of course, was the influence of paganism which had to be thwarted as much as possible. The San Stefano Rotondo, the monasteries of Albi and of Durham are examples of Christian edifices which incorporated all parts of medieval city life. Not only the monastery but also the medieval abbey or church were much more than a sanctuary where Christians came together for Mass. They can more usefully be compared to a community centre where information was passed on, goods were exchanged, where many people found employment. In the city, they played an integral part in the activities of the market place and the town festivals. In short, the Church in its widest sense was omnipresent in medieval urban culture.

In what is to follow, I will submit metaphoric and symbolic evidence of the parallelism and centrality of church and city building in the literature of the High and late Middle Ages. Both monastic and secular writers exploit this imagery, as for instance Hildegard of Bingen in her visionary work Scivias written in 1141 and the court writer Christine de Pizan who, in 1404, composed her now famous Livre de la cité des dames . By looking at the textual and pictorial imagery of Hildegard of Bingen's Scivias and the much later Livre de la cité des dames , I hope to show that whether monastic or secular, whether a visionary work recounting Genesis and other scenes from the Old and New Testament, or a treatise on female heroism and virtue, both texts rely on the symbolism of theological and secular city building. What is more important, despite their chronological, geographical and linguistic distance, both writhers create through the symbolism of city building, be it in the allegorized form of the female church, Ecclesia, or of a fortress of words as in the case of the Cité des dames, a new polis of the feminine, or a '[new] Kingdom of Femininity' (117) [un nouvel royaume de Femenie] (250) as Lady Righteousness calls Christine's edifice in the second book of the Cité./3 Though at first glance an arbitrary choice of primary texts, it is the construction of a city of the feminine that brings those two female writers together and creates a vibrant intertextuality between their works.

Let's begin in reverse chronological order with Christine de Pizan's well known Le livre de la cité des dames. Christine, though deeply religious, was a secular writer who, especially in her prose works, dealt above all with contemporary political and humanistic issues. One of her principal preoccupations was the (in her eyes) misrepresented role of women in contemporary society, and it is this topic which is central to both the Livre de la cité des dames and the subsequent Livres des trois vertus written shortly after the Cité and with which it forms a diptych.

It has often been noted that for the Cité des dames Christine borrowed extensively from two auctores. Giovanni Boccaccio's De claris mulieribus provided the narrative material for her selection of heroic and legendary women whose tales are told by the three narrators, Lady Reason, Lady Righteousness and Lady Justice after their appearance before Christine in the opening scene of the text. Each legend and each story symbolically adds one more stone to the foundation, the walls and finally the towers which will eventually make up Christine's edifice of words. The author/narrator's objective, as she tells us herself, is to erect a fortress large enough to house all virtuous women of the past, present and future and to protect them from the enemy in the form of men who diffuse slanderous speech about them.

In brief, all women . . . be well-informed in all things and cautious in defending your honour and chastity against your enemies! My ladies, see how these men accuse you of so many vices in everything. Make liars of them all by showing forth your virtue . . . (City 256).
[Et briefment, toutes femmes . . . vueillez estre sur toute riens avisees et caultes en deffence contre les ennemis de voz honneurs et de vostre chasteté. Voyez, mes dames, comment ces hommes vous accusent de tant de vices et de toutes pars. Faite les tous menteurs par monstrer vostre vertu . . . ] (Cité, 500). /4
In terms of her narrative structure, Christine takes Saint Augustine's De civitate Dei as a model, as has been pointed out by Earl Jeffrey Richards, not to rival the City of God, but rather to inscribe her work in 'a Christian tradition of political philosophy.' /5 Saint Augustine clearly features among Christine's most venerated auctores and teachers. Already in chapter X of the Cité des dames , Lady Reason calls upon the experience of his conversion to Christianity in order to illustrate his wisdom:
Was not Saint Augustine, the glorious Doctor of the Church, converted to the Faith by his mother's tears? For the good woman wept continuously, praying to God that it would please Him to illuminate the heart of her pagan, unbelieving son with the light of faith.' (City , 28).
[Ne fu saint Augustin, le glorieux docteur de l'Eglise, convertis a la foy pour cause des larmes de sa mere? Car la tres bonne dame sanz cesser plouroit, priant a Dieu que il lui pleust enluminer le cuer de son filz qui estoit payen et incredule de la lumiere de la foy] (Cité, 86)
This exemplum serves to prove to Christine, quite obviously not convinced of the strength of women's abilites and virtues, that women have managed to bring about many miracles. According to Lady Reason, Augustine's conversion was in part due to his mother's tears which she shed for her son in constant prayer.

Under the auspice of the literary authority instilled in Christine by the frequent references to her auctores, Augustine, Aristotle, Ovide, Saint Ambrosius, the Church Fathers and so forth, as well as the divine provenance of Lady Reason, Righteousness and Justice as Daughters of God, Christine builds a fictive fortified city daring to counteract the canon of misogynist texts to which she refers in the incipit of her text. /6 Whereas in his De civitate Dei Saint Augustine defends the newly founded Christian faith against accusations of having caused the crumbling of the Roman Empire, Christine reclaims in her Cité des dames women's honour and virtue responding thus to the inherent misogyny in canonical writings of authors like Matheolus, Jean de Meun and even St Paul. With her naive questions, she digs deep into the earth to build her City of Ladies of which Lady Reason is in charge of the founding stones, Lady Righteousness raises the walls, and finally Lady Justice erects the towers and completes the task by inviting the idol of ultimate female virtue to inhabit the highest tower, the Madonna. The matter of the city, which stands as a refuge for all virtuous women, whatever her status of birth may be, consists therefore of a compilation of exempla, of legends the words of which have been heaved out of the fertile 'Field of Letters' (City , 16) [Champ des Escriptures] (Cité , 64), where Lady Reason takes Christine at the beginning of the work (Figure 1).

Though filled with a multitude of examples of virtuous women to choose from, such as the strong and independent Amazons who are the predominant subject of the first Book, or all those learned women whose lives are narrated by Lady Righteousness in Book II or, more important yet, the long list of female saints and martyrs who make up the matter of the city's towers, the paragon of female virtue in the Cité des dames remains the Virgin Mary. It is Lady Justice who invites her to move into the highest tower thus functioning as the ultimate role model for all the city's inhabitants:

We greet you, Queen of Heaven, with the greeting which the Angel brought you, when he said, Hail Mary, which pleased you more than all other greetings. May all the devout sex of women humbly beseech you that it please you well to reside among them with grace and mercy, as their defender, protector, and guard against all assaults of enemies and of the world. . . (City, 218)
[Nous te saluons, Royne des Cieulx du Salu qu l'ange t'apporta, lequel tu as agreable sur tous salus, te disant Ave Maria. Supplie humblement a toy tout le devot sexe des femmes que en orreur ne te soit d'abiter entre elles par grace et par pitié comme leur deffenderresse, protectaresse et garde contre tous assaulx d'ennemis et du monde . . . ] (Cité, 432) (Figure 2)
The pivotal role played by the Virgin and her disciples, the female martyrs, who, in the main succumbed to torture and cruelty in thier effort to guard their moral and physical virginity, reverberates through this exaltation by Lady Justice, one of Christine's mouthpieces in the Cité.

Here Christine leans again closely on the theology of Saint Augustine who, to quote Maureen Quilligan, 'had already enthroned the saints as the quintessential citizens of the civitas dei'. /7 Augustine, who, as we have seen, also provides the model for the title of Christine's work, is consequently not a surprising source for its third and final Book. What is surprising, however, is that Christine who was, after all, a secular writer, relies on the Virgin Mary and martyrology to get her point across. With the exception of very few religious compositions such as the Sept psaumes allegorisés, Les heures de contemplation sur la passion de Nostre Seigneur or L'oroyson Nostre Dame, Christine's concerns, in particular in her prose works are, as I mentioned already, more of a political and humanistic nature, especially since her involvement in the quarrel about the Roman de la rose which directly preceded the composition of the Livre de la cité des dames . /8 The parallelism of the pivotal role played by the Virgin in Book III of the Cité des dames and Augustine's De civitate Dei cannot be denied, however.

In Book XVII of the De civitate Dei, Augustine assimilates the Virgin above all with the figure of Ecclesia who in her allegorical signification encompasses the female City who represents at the same time the pseudo-trinitarian figure of the Bride Church, the Virgin Church and the Mother Church. Lori Walters in 'La réécriture de saint Augustin par Christine de Pizan' states that through this assimilation which, after all, is very common in patristic writings, we are reminded of the masculine point of view behind it./9 This is undoubtedly true, yet, I believe that this allegorical analogy deserves to be explored further in order to fully grasp its polysemic scope.

It is within the parameters of the relation between the Church and the individual soul that we must anchor the popular analogy of Church and Virgin in its broadest sense. Augustine and with him Methodius, Origen and other patristic writers represent the Church as the mother of all Christians born again through the sacrament of baptism. Through baptism the analogy of the birth of Christ by the Virgin Mary in its mystical sense is established. Thus the apocalyptic vision of the birth of Christ is not meant to be understood as being the birth of the historic Jesus but rather the Virgin giving birth represents the Church giving birth to humankind. In this respect, Walters is certainly right in pointing out the masculine point of view of painting the Church, Ecclesia, as the mother of Christ and by extension of all Christians who share the human characteristics of Christ. /10 The visual and allegorical representation of the Church as an oversized figure giving birth to all its faithful children, followers of Christ, lives on for centuries reaching well into the High Middle Ages. Rupert of Deutz for instance alludes to the importance of the allegorical function of Ecclesia when he states that '. . . our Mother is the one harmonious and beloved City of God and of all his blessed angels. From her womb we were aborted and cast out when, in the person of our forefather who lost the peace in Paradise because of sin, we were banished and fell into this exile'. /11 Rupert of Deutz as well as the great itinerant preacher and theologian Bernard of Clairvaux spread their doctrine throughout the monastic and lay world in Western Europe, notably France and Germany, during the eleventh and twelth century. Their ecclesiologic imagery was copied, repeated and diffused among the monastic orders where it is emulated in textual and visual representations, such as in Herrad of Hohenburg's Hortum deliciarum where she, like Hildegard in her Scivias, represents the allegory of Ecclesia as an oversized female figure.

Hildegard of Bingen began to write down her numerous visions only later in life at the age of 42. Though very prolific, the most comprehensive account of these visions which tell the story of creation from the Old and New Testament is Scivias, her best known work today containing 35 miniatures visualizing in great detail the individual visions. /12 Hildegard treats the allegory of Ecclesia in no less than five visions depicting her as the female City and mother of all Christians. These visions are Book I.5 where she describes the Synagogue of the Old Testament in the form of an oversized female holding Abraham and Moses close to her heart and the prophets in her lap. The Synagogue, according to Hildegard lacking in perfection, symbolized by the lowered eyes, is replaced by the Church in Book II visions 3,4, and 5. In all three visions, the Church is depicted as Ecclesia, the oversized female queen out of which all Christians are born and to whom they will return in baptism. Last, in Book III vision 9 Hildegard describes the tower of the Church which must hold strong against its numerous enemies in the form of the many so-called heretical sects. Hildegard emphasizes the building in progress, that is to say the Church who, as she says, is promised in marriage to the Son of God, so far only exists in its perfected form in God's spirit. Not unlike Christine's City, the Church will eventually be strong enough to protect its followers from, in this case, the seductive forces of heresy and Satan (Figures 3 and 4).

Though all these five visions are certainly relevant to my point, I will for brevity's sake focus only on Book II visions 3 and 5. The construction process of the Church, the City of God, is already depicted in vision 3 of the second Book (Figure 5, Top left), where Hildegard exclaims: 'After this, I saw the image of a woman as large as a great city' (Scivias , 169) [Post haec uidi quasi muliebrem imaginem tantae magnitudinis ut magna ciuitas est . . . ] (134). Its womb is divided into many squares where all those who believe in the Holy Church will be received and enjoy the guarantee of protection against heresy (Bottom right): ' . . . no enemy can conquer or storm her. She expels unbelief and expands belief' (Scivias, 170) [. . . quoniam nullus hostis eam praeualet expugnare in contraria impugnatione, a se infidelitatem expellentem et se fideliter expandentem . . . ] (137). The virginal mother Church gives birth to and, at the same time, receives her children through the mysterious power of the Holy Spirit. We are reminded here of the ending of Christine's Cité des dames where Lady Justice appeals to all women ' . . . to cultivate virtue, to flee vice, to increase and multiply [our] City, and to rejoice and act well' (257) [. . . les vertus attraire et fuyr les vices, accroistre et multiplier nostre Cité vous resjouyr et bien faire ] (Cité, 502).

We find the same imagery of the female Church, mother and bride of God, in Book II, vision 5 of Scivias, although the visual focus here is the Virgin Mary as a young maiden in a simple long red garb whom Ecclesia holds close to her heart (Figure 6). It is perhaps in this vision that Hildegard's theology of the feminine, as Barbara Newman has taxed Hildegard's allegorical symbolism, is most apparent. /13 The Virgin Mary is surrounded by male and female apostles of the Church. Therefore, those who will not succumb to worldly sins make up the materia of the female city-church. Analogous to Christine's materia of words recounting female heroism, Hildegard's edifice is made up of male and female virgins and in a later vision, Book III, vision 8 of the allegorized female virtues typically associated with monastic life: humility, love, fear of God, obedience, faith, hope, chastity and mercy. The paragon of virtue, of female virtue is once again Mary, Mother of God. By situating Mary in the centre of their female cities, both Hildegard and Christine veer away from the 'masculine point of view' which focuses on the act of giving birth to the male Christ.

Yet, the most striking commonality between Christine's secular and Hildegard's visionary work is the amphasis on luminosity and the repeated mentioning of light which shines not only from and on the Virgin but also frames the two cities. Moving outward, there are for instance the male and female individuals who surround the Virgin in Book II vision 5 (Figure 6). They are vested in gold and gems emanating a blinding shimmer more brilliant than the sun itself (Scivias, 175). The same splendour is discernable in Christine's description of the Virgin, when Lady Justice finally proves wrong all those who defame the female sex:

For if all other women were bad, the light of your [Mary's] goodness so surpasses and transcends them that any remaining evil would vanish. Since God chose His spouse from among women, most excellent Lady, because of your honour, not only should men refrain from reproaching women but should also hold them in great reverence. (City, 218)
[Car se tout le demourant des femmes estoit mauvais, si passe et surmonte la lueur de ta bonté a plus grant comble que autre mauvaistié ne pourroit estre. Et quant Dieu voult en cestui sexe eslire son espouse, Dame tres excellente, pour l'onneur de toy tous hommes se doivent garder, non pas seulement de blasmer femmes, mais aussi les avoir en grant reverence]. (Cité , 432)
To continue then, in Book II vision 3 Hildegard attributes to the figure of Ecclesia a ' . . . splendour . . . like sleeves, shining from Heaven to earth' (Scivias, 169) [. . . bracchia de quibus splendor uelut manicae pendebat, a caelo usque ad terram radians] (134). As already described in Book I vision 3, a red glowing light surrounds this oversized human being and again in Book II vision 5, golden flames framed with red glowing light which is here compared to the vibrancy of the red glimmer of dawn emanate from the entire upper body of Ecclesia (175).

Frequently, the rays centre on the woman's lap thus underscoring the Church's role of motherhood. Yet, at the same token, the central position of light brings about a pseudo-trinitarian fusion of Church the Mother, the Bride and the Virgin since the light emanating from and more importantly falling on the woman's lap is remniscent of the Annunciation scene where, in particular in the later centuries of the Midde Ages, the Virgin Mary is depicted with the Archangel Gabriel who will tell her of the upcoming miraculous pregnancy and birth. These images portray rays of light usually coming through the roof and falling either on Mary's lap or head in a way that no natural light could fall. Quite common in many fourteenth and fifteenth century Books of Hours they are usually intended for the use by lay people. /14 Hildegard and Christine both allude to the Annunciation in their authorial autorepresentation in the incipit of their texts. In Book I vision 1 Hildegard describes herself as hearing the voice of God. The miniature illustrating this initial vision shows her seated in her cell with her secretary, the monk Vollmar by her side. Red and golden rays descend through the roof on her head as she begins to write down what is dictated to her by divine inspiration (Figure 7).

Almost three centuries later Christine de Pizan describes herself, author/narrator, in much the same way when in the incipit of her Cité des dames she awakens from her cataleptic state of doubt and disbelief through the mysterious apparition of the three allegorical goddesses who appear to her first through rays descending upon her lap:

I suddenly saw a ray of light fall on my lap, as though it were the sun. I shuddered then, as if wakened from sleep, for I was sitting in a shadow where the sun could not have shone at that hour. And as I lifted my head to see where this light was coming from, I saw three crowned ladies standing before me . . . (City, 6)
[ . . . soubdainement sus mon giron vi dessendre un ray de lumiere si comme se le soleil fust, et je, qui en lieu obscur estoie ou quel, a celle heure, souleil royer ne peust, tressailli. Adoncques si comme se je fusse resveillee de somme et dreçant la teste pour regarder dont tel lueur venoit, vi devant moy, tout en estant, .iij. dames couronees . . . ] (Cité, 46) (Figure 8)
Christine's despair gives rise eventually to the construction of the City of Ladies at the same time transforming her doubt and intellectual insecurity into affirmation and a will to reinstate women's dignity and honour. Read iconographically, the similarities to the biblical Annunciation scene are striking. To continue this line of thought then, the three Virtues, in turn, represent a sort of female Trinitarian figure in the same way Ecclesia does in the Scivias. /15 Thus, on the level of symbolism, both women establish an intratextual reciprocity between author/narrator and the textual content itself.

As to the sources of this symbolism, it is undoubtedly possible to look for pagan influences in Hildegard's representation of the female Church, such as the Isis-like depiction of the oversized female-goddess going back to Egyptian mythology or certain remnants of lunar theology stemming from antiquity which was adapted by Christian theology during patristic times. /16 I would like to posit, however, that it is in the later Cité des dames that we find a much more pronounced syncretism of secular and biblical imagery. Written towards the end of the Middle Ages this intertwining of the sacred and the worldly was perhaps not only more easily acceptable by contemporary readers but expected. Like so many texts of the fourteenth and the fifteenth century, such as the numerous Books of Hours which refer to biblical scenes as well as to daily life, Christine creates a synergy of worldly and biblical iconography. The female city builders, Lady Reason, Lady Righteousness and Lady Justice as celestial queens build a worldly city made up of biblical and secular material at the same time as Christine readily uses exempla from both spheres.

Hildegard presents her City, Ecclesia, as an edifice which will protect all faithful Christians, thus inscribing her visions within a theological context where the Catholic Church is in the process of becoming an institution firmly anchored in contemporary society. In turn, Christine, though clearly responding with the construction of her City to the canon of misogynist writings, reacts perhaps also to the social reality as she sees and lives it at the beginning of the fifteenth century. Scholars of medieval history are quick to point out the declining status of women in the labour market and the increasing dependency, especially of single women, on charity institutions and begging towards the later Middle Ages. Women were represented in fewer crafts and, as David Nicholas concludes, 'the number of occupations practiced by women falls from 121 in the combined surveys of 1292-1313 to nineteen in 1421-38'./17 Conversely, the number of households run by single women, notably widows, was on the rise at that time. Because of women's less secure property and inheritence rights, this phenomenon was coupled with increased poverty and social instability for single women./18 This social shift is evidently more pronounced in the new urban centres where women who had professional training lived and worked. Christine, who lived at the Parisian court, and who, as her writings show, was sensitive to the situation of the women of her time comments with the construction of her City of Ladies also on this precarious situation.

This explains why she does not limit the entrance requirements into her city to religiously defined moral attributes but also grants permission to enter to women who lead the active life (versus the contemplative life) in a dignified and honourable way, such as female peasants, merchants and intellectuals as well as court princesses. The list of those who will be received within the city walls is long as we will see in Christine's continuation of the Cité des dames, the Livre de trois vertus where she includes also prostitutes and women of the lower classes.

Just as Ecclesia's lap is woven like a 'net with many openings' (Scivias, 171) to house all the faithful, the three allegories suggest in the opening scene of the Livre des trois vertus to weave a web of benevolent snares and knots so that no virtuous woman may slip through the cracks and be forgotten:

Now, with your help, we will devise and fabricate benevolent snares tied with knots of love to cover the ground where honoured ladies and all sorts of women will walk (Mirror, 70).
. . . par ton ayde pourpenséz, fais et quis engins, trebuchiéz et roys beaulz et nobles, lacéz et ouvréz a neux d'amours que nous te livrerons, et tu les estendras par la terre es lieux et es places et es angles par ou les dames, et generaument toutes femmes, passent et cuerent . . . (Vertus, 8-9) /20
Christine does not need much convincing and quickly settles to the new task of weaving a web which will be of lasting durability made of ample advice on female behaviour. Before entering the City of Ladies, women consequently must first look in this 'mirror' of honour, as Charity Cannon Willard has taxed Christine's manual for women, before they may lift their heads and admire the splendour of the City of Ladies filled with the memories of honourable women from all times and places.


1 Among the many books on the development of urbanism in the Middle Ages, I refer in particular to Jacques Heers, La ville au moyen âge (Paris: Fayard, 1990) and Lewis Mumford's comprehensive work, The City in History: Its Origins, its Transformations, and its Prospects (New York: Harcourt, 1961).
2 Mumford, 248-49.
3 The Book of the City of Ladies, trans. Earl Jeffrey Richards (New York: Persea Books, 1982). All quotations in English are taken from this translation. For the original French citations, see La città delle dame , eds. Patrizia Caraffi and Earl Jeffrey Richards (Milano: Luni Editrice, 1997).
4 Christine's borrowings from and rewriting of the De claris mulieribus of which she owned a French translation, De cleres et nobles femes, has spilled much ink particularly in medieval feminist circles. First and foremost, Maureen Quilligan, The Allegory of Female Authority (Ithaca: Cornell, 1991) offers a detailed account of this process. See also Liliane Dulac 'L'autorité dans les traités en prose de Christine de Pizan: discours d'écrivain, parole de prince', Une femme au moyen ages: études autour de Christine de Pisan, eds. Lilian Dulac and Bernard Ribémont (Orléans: Paradigme, 1995); Sandra Hindman, 'With Ink and Mortar: Christine de Pizan's Cité des dames', Feminist Studies (1984), 7-14; Judith Kellog, 'Christine de Pizan and Boccaccio: Rewriting Classical Mythic Tradition', Comparative Literature East and West: Traditions and Trends , eds. Cornelia N. Moore and Raymond A. Moody (Honolulu: University Press of Hawai, 1989); Christine McWebb, 'La mythlogie révisionniste chez Christine de Pizan', Women in French Studies (1996), 27-39; Alicia Ostriker, 'The Thieves of Language: Women Poets and Revisionist Mythmaking', Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 8 (1982), 68-90.
5 The Book of the City of Ladies, xxix. Maureen Quilligan also points to the closeness in the title of the two works: 'So too, Christine named her own Cité des dames after Augustine's City of God : in the Cité she calls him specifically "mon seigneur St Augustin"' ( The Allegory of Female Authority, 205). Moreover, Lori J. Walters states that although there is little doubt that Christine borrowed title and narrative construct from Augustine's De civitate Dei, her own title evokes more the translation into French by Raoul de Presles, the Cité de Dieu dated between 1371 and 1375, in 'La réécriture de Saint Augustin par Christine de Pizan de La cité de dieu à La cité des dames ', Au champ des escriptures: IIIe colloque international sur Christine de Pizan , ed. Eric Hicks (Paris: Champion, 2000), p. 197. Margarete Zimmerman echoes this statement in 'Utopie et lieu de la mémoire féminine: La Cité des dames', Au champ, ed. Hicks, p. 569. The French translation was commissioned by Charles V and therefore quite easily accessible to Christine whose father was called to the Parisian court by no other than Raoul de Presle.
6 Apart from the references to the Roman de la rose (City , pp. 7, 134) as one of the most reputed works of the time and ' . . . where greater credibility is averred because of the authority of its author . . . ' ( City, 7) [ou plus grant foy est adjoustee pour cause de l'auctorité de l'aucteur ] ( Cité, 48), she also mentions Matheolus. Reading his work Les lamentations de Mathéole provokes despair and resignation in Christine. Her faith in female virtue is deeply shaken ( City, 5). For an overview of texts which contributed to the antifeminine current in medieval literature, see Alcuin Blamires' comprehensive anthology, Woman Defamed and Woman Defended: An Anthology of Medieval Texts (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992).
7 Allegory, p. 205. I would like to point out here echoing Quilligan that hagiography is often ascribed to the popular religious movement rather than doctrinal theology.
8 Quilligan develops this argument further with regards to Christine's martyrology in Book III of the Cité des dames, Allegory , pp. 205-06.
9 Walters, 202
10 In Symbole der Kirche: Die Ekklesiologie der Väter (Salzburg: Otto Müller Verlag, 1964) Hugo Rahner explicates in great detail the ecclesiastical writings of the Church Fathers. For the explanations of specifically Methodius and Augustine of the figure of Ecclesia as the motherly allegory of all Christians, I refer to pages 37-40, 63-65.
11 In Iohannem 3.5, CCCM 9139.
12 The miniatures were added by the convent's nuns to the Rupertsberger Prachtkodex about twenty years after the work's completion. It is possible that Hildegard supervised the progress of the manuscript's illumiantion. This manuscript (Hs.1) was housed at the Landesbibliothek Wiesbaden from the beginning of the nineteenth century until 1945 at which time it was lost. Fortunately, a parchment facsimile had been prepared by the Benedictine nuns of the convent Eibingen in 1927. This manuscript was used for the 1978 edition by Adelgundis Führkötter and Angela Carlevaris (Turnholt: Brepols). All citations are from this edition. For the English translations see Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias , trans. Mother Columba Hart and Jane Bishop (New York: Paulist Press, 1990).
13 Sister of Wisdom: St Hildegard's Theology of the Feminine (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987).
14 For examples of the Très riches heures du duc de Berry , I refer to V.A. Kolve's 'The Annunciation to Christine: Authorial Empowerment in The Book of the City of Ladies', Iconography at the Crossroads: Papers from the Colloquium Sponsored by the Index of Christian Art, Princeton University, 23-24 March 1990, ed. Brendan Cassidy (Princeton: Index of Christian Art, 1993), Figures 5 and 6.
15 In 'The Annunciation to Christine' V.A. Kolve sets up this double analogy between the apparition scene in the Cité on the one hand and the Annunciation and the Trinity on the other.
16 The symbolic parallelism between Ecclesia and Isis as the ultimate motherhood figure in Egyptian mythology has been noted by Barbara Newman in Sister of Wisdom, p. 188 as well as by Barbara Grant in 'Five Liturgical Songs by Hildegard von Bingen', Signs 5 (1980), 564. See also Hugo Rahner, Symbole der Kirche, 165-70. Hildegard herself draws parallels between the celestial bodies, sun, moon and stars and the Trinity.

The sun symbolizes My Son, Who went forth from My heart and illuminated the world when in the latest times He was born of the Virgin, as the sun goes forth and lights the world when it rises at the end of the night. And the moon symbolizes the Church, bethrothed to My Son in true and celestial bethrothal. (Scivias , 202) [Sol autem significat Filium meum, qui de corde meo exiuit et mundum illuminauit cum natus est ex Virgine in fine temporum, sicut et sol egrediens mundum illustrat cum oritur circa finem noctis. Sed luna ecclesiam eidem Filio meo in uera et superna desponsatione desponsatam designat.] (176).
17 The Later Medieval City 1300-1500 (London: Longman, 1997), p. 271.
18 There are many speculations on the reasons for this social transformation, such as the change in the demography in many Western European countries or the increase in professional opportunities for men who, as a consequence, relegated women, who were often excluded from professional training, to more menial household tasks. For more details on this phenomenon, I refer above all to David Nicholas, The Later Medieval City, chapter 8.
19 A Medieval Woman's Mirror of Honour: The Treasury of the City of Ladies , trans. Charity Cannon Willard (New York: Persea Books, 1989).
20 Le livre des trois vertus, eds. Charity Cannon Willard and Eric Hicks (Paris: Champion, 1989).



{ Christine de Pizan, a widow at the age of twenty-five, had to overcome her bereavement and to provide for herself, her children, her mother and her niece. Years after the death of her husband she was still fighting legal battles to obtain a pension. It was during these difficult times that she succeeded in establishing herself as a writer, a profession which had been the uncontested domain of men. Christine was well aware of the unconventionality of her situation. She refused to remarry and instead put herself through an intensive, self-directed program of study. It was a courageous way of coping with adversity.

Christine received the typical upbringing of a young lady of the upper classes. Her father, Tommaso da Pizzano, had accepted the invitation of King Charles V to become his court astrologer. He moved to France with his Venetian wife and daughter. Christine was then four years old. Raised in an Italian household while living at the French court, she grew up as bilingual. In spite of her mother's opposition and thanks to her father's better judgment she learned Latin. In 1369, at the age of fifteen, she married the man her father had chosen for her. It was a happy marriage, but her husband died after only ten years. During that time, Christine necessarily neglected her education, occupied as she was with household duties and childbearing. The youngest of her three children only lived a few years. When her surviving daughter was accepted as a nun at the convent of Poissy, and her son left for England as a page to the Earl of Salisbury, Christine was free to devote herself to her literary career.

Most of her works have been carefully edited and studied, notably those, such as The Book of the City of Ladies and The Book of the Three Virtues, dealing with the role and status of women in society. /1 Her defense of women in the Querelle du Roman de la Rose has been much discussed. But Le Livre du Chemin de Long Estude, written between 1402 and 1403 for Charles VI and the Princes of the 'Fleurs de Lys', instead is neglected. This dismissal is strange in the light of the fact that it was Le Livre du Chemin de Long Estude which first established Christine de Pizan, in the eyes of her contemporaries, as the first important woman writer. In this poem she displayed, even more than in her earlier work, the mastery of the cultural knowledge and rhetorical skills which were regarded as the marks of a serious and committed writer. In addition, the works holds an important place in Christine's oeuvre; in it she addressed for the first time those political and ethical problems which would be the predominant themes of her subsequent, mature works.

Why this discrepancy between the views of modern critics such as Gaston Paris, Arturo Farinelli, Henri Hauvette, and Marie-Joseph Pinet, who disparage the work, and the praise given it by Christine's contemporaries? It results at least in part from a failure to read the work in terms of the context - both personal and political - in which it was written. From the Renaissance until recently, intertextuality was considered derivative plagiarizing. This prejudice betrays a failure to recognize the poem as a serious attempt to address the very grave and complex political issues of the time. /2 The dismissal of the poem also fails to take into account the ways in which Christine transforms her models to adapt them to her context. Only by retracing Christine's supernatural journey - in theory - will it be possible to develop a deeper understanding of the poem and its issues, uncovering the extent to which her approach to the world of learning was feminine and about praxis .

First, the poem's title. /3 As all commentators have noted, this is a direct translation of the words that Dante pronounces when Virgil appears to him in the first canto of the Commedia .

O delli poeti onore e lume
vagliami 'l lungo studio e 'l grande amore
che m'ha fatto cercar lo tuo volume.
The poem begins with a dedication to King Charles VI and the princes of his court. It is written in decasyllables, a line which had traditionally been used for epic poetry, though by the end of the fourteenth century its use had been extended to other genres; it was considered more dignified than the octosyllabic line favored by writers of narrative and didactic poetry. Then, like Dante, Christine begins the poem proper with a description of the thoughts that occupied her mind before the Sibyl appeared to her. A comparision with the opening tercet of the Commedia shows how much Christine departs from her model. She sets the stage in her own house and she laments the blow inflicted on her by fortune with the death of her husband. The recollection of Christine's married life is a song of fulfillment of mutual love in happiness as well as in sorrow. She emphasizes its personal tone by using the heptasyllabic line favored by writers of lyric poetry. She then makes a skilful transition to the octosyllabic line, which she will retain throughout the rest of the poem. The reflection on her own condition as a wife and then as a widow, merely sketched here, would be the main theme of one of her best-known works, The Book of the Three Virtues , in which she examined the role and responsibility of women in society.

If we exclude the introduction, the didactic and narrative body of the poem written in heptasyllabic meter clearly divides into two sections. The first (II-VII) outlines Christine's educational program under the Sibyl's guidance. In the second part (VIII-XIII), Christine expresses her concerns about the disastrous political situation in which France was plunged after the death of Charles V, the wise king.

There is ample evidence that Christine knew and used Dante's Italian poem intertextually. However, in the attempt to establish the extent to which Christine was indebted to the Italian poem, critics have neglected evaluating the manner in which Christine adapted Dante's vision to her own poetic world and to the historical reality of her own time. She borrows from Dante the framework of a supernatural journey. But it is only a point of departure. Let us recall the opening lines of the Commedia:

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
ché la diritta via era smarrita.
The apparition of Virgil to Dante constitutes for him the possibility of finding a way out of the obscure forest of sin. Having come to a turning point in his life, his goal must be the redemption of his soul under the guidance of reason. Christine evokes the episode, and Dante's words:
Vaille moy long estude
qu m'a fait cercier tes volumes (1136-1137)
when she realizes that the path on which the Sibyl is leading her is the way to learning. Christine's concerns are neither theological nor metaphysical; her quest for knowledge is seen in its function of the attainment of human wisdom.

Several illuminations in manuscripts of her work represent Christine in her study where she is taking pleasure in reading and writing to divert her mind from sad thoughts. This is also the setting of the poem's beginning. Before taking the readers on her supernatural journey, Christine presents herself to them as a narrator and as a woman. We see her moving about the house, picking up a book or two, being dissatisfied with them, and finally becoming absorbed in Boethius' De consolatione philosophiae. The picture of himself that Dante gives at the outset of his poem is powerful, concise and combre; Christine's self-portrait is gentle, diffuse and delicate. It is also exquisitely feminine and Gothic in style.

This development sets the stage for her vision which begins with the apparition of a woman, who reveals herself to be the Cumaean Sibyl, called Almathea (Soulgoddess) by Christine; she is the one who had taken Aeneas throughthe underworld (in the story Dante then had appropriated for his poem, having instead the male Virgin be his guide). She had predicted, with the other nine Sibyls, the coming of Christ. After telling the story of her long life, the Sibyl offers herself as guide to Christine. She will show her a more perfect world. Christine accepts with joy, saying: 'Allez davant! J'iray derriere' (698). The line is an adaptation of the words with which Dante closes the first canto of the Commedia and begins his journey with Virgil: 'Allor si mosse ed io gli tenni dietro' (Inferno I.136).

Here again Christine departs from her model. Dante speaks of, not to Virgil; he watches him and follows him. No other detail is given. Christine changes Dante's description into an expressin of direct address, charged with eagerness and anticipation. While Dante always used the ' tu ' (thou) form with Virgil, thus stressing a role of male solidarity, Christine uses the plural form with the Sibyl, while the Sibyl uses the ' tu ' form to Christine, thereby suggesting a mother-daughter relationship between them. In a feminine way, Christine goes on to describe the kind of dress and headgear she put on; she even takes the precaution of shortening her gown in order to be able to walk more quickly. The landscape in which the two woman begin their journey is not the dark forest of Dante and Virgil, but a meadow full of flowers.

Why did Christine choose a woman as guide? To answer the question we have to look back at the Querelle du Roman de la Rose, which had been 'an important stimulus to Christine to pursue the idea of pointing out the merit of women in their historical role'. The Sibyl, like Virgil, had predicted the coming of Christ. She had had an important role in both the pagan and the Christian worlds as a woman and a prophet. What sources did Christine follow? The source for the story of the Sibyl is the Ovide Moralisé . The fourteenth-century translator had considerably amplified the account of the Sibyl's story as given by Ovid. But Christine must also have used the original Latin version because her account of the Sibyl's story has the same vivacious tightness and concision which makes the charm of the Latin text. The Latin poet told how the Sibyl received from Phoebus the gift, or rather the curse, of a thousand-year-long life, but she had neglected to request everlasting youth to go along with it. (We see her in the manuscript illuminations as elderly, in contrast to Christine's youthfulness.) The medieval translator retold the story, but also included the legend according to which the Sibyl had predicted the coming of Christ. He - or she - made a point of stressing the Sibyl's prophetic power and divine wisdom. Christine follows both Ovid and the Ovide Moralisé closely, even having the Sibyl speak in the first person. It is as a student to the Sibyl's school of learning that Christine begins her journey.

Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale, MS 10982, fol. 25

The two women reach a high mountain from which a fountain flows. Its water is fresh and clear, nine naked women bathe in it while a winged horse flies over them. In the manner of Dante, Christine asks who they are. The Sibyl replies that the mountain is Parnassus; the nine women are the Muses; the winged horse, Pegasus; the spring, the fountain of knowledge. All the great sages of antiquity, and Christine's own father as well, used to come and drink its waters. The Sibyl adds that the path they follow is called 'Long Estude'. Christine thanks the Sibyl for showing her the path. She remembers that she had read about it in Dante's poem and recalls his words to Virgil. But it is precisely at this point that Dante and Christine go separate ways. Virgil led Dante through the horrors of hell; the Sibyl shows her pupil the wonders of the earth.

Following John de Mandeville's pilgrimage, the Sibyl takes her pupil on a world tour. They visit the whole Mediterranean basin; they make a dutiful, but rather nondescript stop at the Holy Land; they take a detour to the monastery of St Catherine and to the land of Prester John. Christine manages to enliven the narrative with a frugal tough. When they reach the island of Cathary she sees silk, gold, silver and spices in great abundance, but she does not buy anything. Finally, the Sibyl shows her the wall of fire surrounding Paradise, but they cannot enter it because an angel stands guarding the gate.

Instead, they go to the top of a mountain where the Sibyl calls in Greek to someone who immediately appears. She asks for a ladder so that her pupil can climb to the firmament. The ladder which is provided is very long, light and strong; the material it is made of is called 'speculation'. As the Sibyl explains, the path of long learning cannot lead to the firmament unless it is complemented by speculation, Boethius' theoretica. Christine crosses herself and starts climbing. She looks down and sees the earth; it looks like a tiny little ball, the image borrowed from Cicero, Boethius and Dante:

. . . e vidi questo globo
tal, ch'io sorrisi del suo vil sembiante. (Paradiso XII.134-135)

Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale, MS 10982, fol. 25

Dante smiles condescendingly at this sight. But Christine is frightened. Icarus' fate comes to her mind, but the Sibyl reassures her: her wish to reach the firmament is not dictated by presumption, but by the desire to learn the mysteries and beauties of the universe. Unlike Dante, the two women do not ascend to the highest theological sphers; Christine meets instead with the influences and destinies assigned to men and women alike at their birth. To her sorrow, she sees there all the evils that ravage the earth, wars, famine, death and destruction. Finally, at each of the four cardinal points she comes to the presence of the four Queens, Wisdom to the east, Nobility to the north, Chivalry to the south, and Wealth to the west, in descending order of Christine's approval of these virtues. Above them is God's Daughter, Reason, an olive branch in her right hand, a naked sword in her left. An ambassador brings her a letter from the Great Mother Earth which Eloquence reads to her.

Christine has now completed her educational training under the Sibyl's guidance. In the second part of the poem she feels strong enough to deal with the problems of the world, and to offer a possible solution. To this end she stages a debate amongst the four Queens, with Reason as their moderator. Her thoughts on ethical, political and economical matters are woven into their speeches. After a preliminary discussion, it is agreed that to restore peace and justice in the world, a supreme ruler, a philosopher king, must be elected. Then each Queen presents a candidate. There is no doubt that the references in the poem are to real people, though their identity today is unclear. Instead of speculating over the candidates' identities, it is more important to understand Christine's values and discover which are the attributes of the perfect ruler according to each category.

Nobility speaks first. She stresses the importance of lineage, and Christine alludes several times in the course of the poem to the fact that the French monarchs are descendants of the Trojan kings. It comes as no suprise that she should choose Charles VI as Nobility's candidate. She also manages to pay homage to several members of the House of Burgundy, who in fact continued to patronize her work. This attitude could be considered opportunism if Christine had not had the courage to decalre, using Wisdom as her spokeswoman, that no man can be considered noble if he is not virtuous. Uncompromisingly, Christine takes up the question of the nobility of the heart of which Boethius, Jean de Meung and Dante had already been supporters.

Who is Chivalry's candidate still remains to be discovered. But we do have some clues in regard to Christine's opinion of this institution. When she sees her first amongst the other Queens, she is struck by her bellicose and arrogant appearance. French Chivalry had disgraced itself during the so-called 'Crusade' which the European princes had organized to help the Christian Emperor of Constantinople against the Turkish Sultan Bejazet. The expedition was meant to be a revival of chivalric values, but it was used by the participants to enhance their own personal interests; it ended disastrously with the defeat of the Christian army at Nicopolis in 1392. Christine lends her voice toWisdom in reminding Chivalry that, according to the Policraticus of John of Salisbury, a knight has many duties, notably, to defend the Catholic faith and the common welfare, women and orphans, and, she adds with a personal touch, widows. A good knight must no covet riches; he must avoid lust, gluttony and laziness. It can be assumed that French knights were forgetful of such duties. Christine draws from ancient and contemporary history for examples which insist on the knight's obligation to respect women. The Querelle du Roman de la Rose was not to be forgotten.

In describing Wealth's candidate, Christine shows that her eyes are not closed to reality. She knows only too well tht no king, no matter how valiant or wise, can hold on to his power if he is not rich. At the same time, she touches on a problem of great concern to the French people, namely the brutally unfair taxing system that would finally explode in the bloodshed of the Revolution.

Charles V would have been Wisdom's perfect choice, but he had been dead for twenty years. He is evoked as an exemplary and wise ruler, well versed in philosophy, poetry and astronomy. Christine knew the contents of the king's library from first-hand experience; she points out that his love of learning was not limited to the improvement of his own mind; by sponsoring French translations of Latin works, he showed that the wisdom of antiquity was not incompatible with Christian virtues. Christine here touches on an important aspect of learning in the second half of the fourteenth century, its classical Humanism. Wisdom's portrait of the ideal ruler is culled from Aristotle, Plutarch and other authorities.

As she has done elsewhere in the poem, Christine weaves anecdotes into her citations, but it is interesting to note that particularly in Wisdom's speech several stories show women playing a significantly active role. When Christine states that a good ruler must exercise moderation in drinking, she tells how Philip of Macedon condemned a woman while he was inebriated. She demanded that the king judge her when he was sober, to which he consented and, then, revoked the sentence. The anecdote allows Christine to emphasize the rights of a woman faced with an unfair judgement. The ideal prince must not be vindicitve; he must rule firmly, but mercifully. Seneca tells of a prince who had exterminated all his enemies by one. He asked his wife's advice, and she suggested the use of kindness rather than strength. He followed her advice, and the former enemy became a devoted friends. Through this anecdote, Christine points subtly to the influence which a woman can have in private and in public life. One of the major concerns of a wise ruler must be the administration of justice. The well-known story of the poor widow and the Emperor Trajan did not escape Christine's attention. She must have identified with this woman who demanded that her son's killers be punished. Christine too had had to beg for justice in the legal battles she had to fight after her husband's death.

At the conclusion of the debate, the decision is made to have the matter settled on earth rather than in Heaven. It is resolved that the French princes should elect the supreme ruler who will put an end to the evil in the world. But another problem arises. How can the message be sent to the French court? The Sibyl comes forth. She knows the right person, Christine, who, like herself, was born in Italy. It was not unlike Dante, with his hopes in an emperor, for Christine to similarly hope in the miraculous appearance of a king who would restore to order the chaos of French politics. Following the courage of her convictions, after completing Le Chemin, she again took that message to the French court.

At the end of the poem we find Christine bidding farewell to her guide and retiring to the intimacy of her own chamber. She is awakened the following day by her mother and the poem ends with the same closing line as the Roman de la Rose: 'car tart estoit et je m'esveille'. Though it is true Christine was Jean de Meung's declared enemy, the intertextuality of this line could be interpreted as a tribute to him. Like him, she believed in Reason, Knowledge and Wisdom. In addition, the last line provides a further comparison with the Commedia. Dante ends each cantica with the word 'stelle'. By conscious contrast to the Commedia, Christine returns from her journey to the same place where it had begun; a modest, domestic interior, a feminine and intimate household. In her pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, her journey remains earthbound.

Christine's primary concern is the formulation of civic and moral values that could be applied to the urgent problems of her time. The king had been suffering since 1392 from bouts of insanity; his younger brother, Louis of Orléans, had become increasingly powerful, in spite of the opposition of their uncle, Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. The state treasury was being depleted by extravagant expenses for the amusement of the court, while heavy taxes were imposed on the people. Christine did not remain a spectator of such events. In her writings she focussed on the role and mission of the ideal monarch, the ambitions of the nobility, and the selfishness of the chivalry.

In 1404, the Duke of Burgundy commissioned Christine to write the biography of his brother, Charles V. Christine portrayed him as a model of wisdom, knowledge, learning and clemency. After the sudden death of Philip the Bold that same year, his son, Jean Sans Peur, continued his father's opposition to the power of Louis of Orléans and to his taxing of the people. France was on the verge of civil war. On 5 October 1405, Christine addressed a letter to the queen, Isabeau of Bavaria, in which she urged her to exercise her influence upon the king, so that he could put an end to the quarrel between the two princes. Negotiations took place and peace was made, but it lasted only two years. Then the Duke of Orléans was murdered by order of Jean Sans Peur.

Christine continued to discuss the ethical virtues required of a ruler in Le Livre du Corps de Policie which she wrote between 1406 and 1407. In Le Livre des Faits d'Armes et de Chevalerie she discussed the whole problem of warfare and its ethical implications. In Le Livre du Chemin de Long Estude she had already taken a strong stand in regard to the institution of Chivalry. In 1418 she withdrew from pubic life. Her last known work is a hymn to John of Arc, written in 1429. She may have died shortly after that date. She had stated that the true spirit of Chivalry had been destroyed due to greed and self-interest. History was to prove how Sibylline she was. French Chivalry suffered a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Agincourt in 1411.

Christine's position at the court was too precarious to allow her to speak her mind entirely. She had to depend on the royal family and on noble, wealthy patrons to support her and to ensure a career for her son. But she used the text of the Commedia to remind her rulers that it was their duty to restore peace to the country, to improve the lot of the poor, and to protect and defende the rights of women. She had begun her career by writing feminine ballads and love lyrics and could have continued in that vein; but she believed she had a role to play in society, of being an ethically and politically committed writer. In turning to Italian Dante's Commedia, and its echoing of Roman Virgil's Aeneid as her model in France, she began that role in writing Le Chemin de Long Estude.


Extracted from an essay originally published in Equally in God's Image: Women in the Middle Ages , ed. Julia Bolton Holloway, Joan Bechtold, and Constance S. Wright (Berne: Peter Lang, 1990), pp. 103-116.
1 Mademoiselle Louise de Kéralio published excerpts of Christine de Pizan's work in Collections des meilleurs ouvrages françois composés par des femmes , vols. II, III (Paris, 1787); Gaston Paris, 'Le Livre du Chemin de Long Estude par Christine de Pizan', Romania, 19 (1881), 318; Arturo Farinelli, Dante nell'opere di Christine de Pisan (Halle: Niemeyer, 1905); Henri Hauvette, Etudes sur la Divine Comédie (Paris: Honoré Champion, 1911), pp. 149-153; Rose Rigaud, Les idées féministes de Christine de Pisan (Neufchatel: Université de Neufchatel, 1911); Charity Cannon Willard, 'A Fifteenth-Century View of Woman's Role in Medieval Society: Christine de Pisan's Livre de Trois Vertues , in The Role of Women in the Middle Ages, ed. Rosemary Thee Morewedge (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1975); Diane Bornstein, Ideals for Women in the Works of Christine de Pizan (Kalamazoo: The Medieval Institute, 1981); Regine Pernoud, Christine de Pizan (Paris: Calmann-Levy, 1982).
2 Raymond Thomassy, Essai sur les écrits politiques de Christine de Pisan, suivi d'une notice littéraire de pièces inedites (Paris: Debecourt, 1838); P.G.C. Campbell, 'Christine de Pisan en Angleterre', Revue de littérature comparés 5 (1925); Marguerite Favier, Christine de Pizan: muse des cours souveraines (Lausanne: Editions Rencontre, 1967); Claude Gauvard, 'Christine de Pisan a-t-elle eu une pensée politique? A propos des ouvrages récents', Revue historique 250 (1973), pp. 417-430; Gianni Mombello, 'Quelques aspects de la pensée politique de Christine de Pizan d'après ses oeuvres publiées', Culture et politique en France à l'époque de l'Humanisme et de la Renaissance: Etudes réunies par Franco Simone (Torino: Accademia delle Scienze, 1974), pp. 43-153; Josette A. Wisman, 'L'éveil du sentiment national au Moyen Age; la pensée politique de Christine de Pisan', Revue historique 257 (1977), 289-297; Sandra Hindman, Christine de Pizan's 'Epitre d'Othea': Painting and Politics at the Court of Charles VI (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1986) .
3 References to the poem follow the edition by Robert Pueschel, Le Livre du Chemin de Long Estude (Paris: Le Soudier, 1887), 2nd ed.


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