Christine de Pizan was a French female writer who crafted the first pieces of literature about feminism. She became the first female to support her family through her writing skills. Christine de Pizan was able to write in many different genres of literature.
She published hundreds of poems, ballads, songs, and novels throughout her lifetime. Christine de Pizan was the first feminist writer in the world and her most famous books are The Book of the City of Ladies and The Treasure of the City of Ladies.
Christine de Pizan was born in Venice, Italy in 1364 as the daughter of Thomas de Pizan. Her father was worked for the Republic of Venice as a physician, councilor, and astrologer. He was appointed the court astrologer by King Charles V of France in 1368 and the family moved to France in the same year.
Christine de Pizan married Etienne du Castel who was a royal secretary and notary in 1379. In 1380 her father lost his position in the court when King Charles V died. She and her husband supported the family until Etienne died of the plague in 1389. During her lifetime she had three children.
During medieval times women had no rights and were considered property of their husband or father. Females were not educated like males during this time frame. Christine’s father taught her to read and write. At a young age she was captivated by literature and books. She was able to visit King Charles’s library which contained 900 books of various genres.
After the death of her husband, Christine de Pizan was left alone with three children and her mother to support. She took things into her own hands and began to write poems for the aristocrats in royal families.
She was successful in making money to support her family by sending people numerous copies of her work. Eventually she was commissioned to write many poems, ballads, and songs for royalty.
Christine de Pizan was thoughtful of how books were written. She thought that if more women wrote books that women would be portrayed differently in society.
She experienced the plight of women in society during her 15 years of trying to get her inheritance. She started writing more about the plight of women in medieval society.
Her greatest achievement in writing was The Book of the City of Ladies. The book detailed the building of city by three women Reason, Justice, and Rectitude. She was instrumental in placing women in the same limelight as men.
She made women feel just as important as men. The book gave women around the known world a safe place in a world where women had no specific rights.
Christine de Pizan followed up her book by writing The Treasure of the City of Ladies also known as The Book of the Three Virtues. This book highlighted the need of a woman to understand how to take care of themselves, their family, business affairs, and their husband’s lands. The book allowed women to find their important place in a male dominated world.
Christine de Pizan lived during the Hundred Years War between France and England. She was offered many times to move to England to write by leaders like Richard II and Henry IV.
She was also supported by King Charles VI and his wife Queen Isabella of Bavaria. She decided to live at a convent in 1418 C.E. after the Battle of Agincourt.
The last piece of literature she published was The Tale of Joan of Arc in 1429 C.E. The poem detailed an account of Joan of Arc during the Siege of Orleans. It is believed to be the first poem to celebrate Joan of Arc’s greatness in battle.
Joan of Arc led men into battle and returned victorious, thus making a woman’s dream of equality a reality. Christine de Pizan died in 1430 C.E. before the imprisonment and execution of Joan of Arc.
Her father, Thomas de Pizan
The Book of the City of Ladies and The Treasures of the City of Ladies