Tuesday, April 10

A great medieval writer, Christine de Pisan (1365-ca. 1431)

Turquoise 2007,Bita

Christine de Pisan was a remarkable literary woman of the Medieval (Middle Ages) period. She was born in Venice, to a civil councillor by the name of Tommaso di Benvenuto da Piazzano, a man of great “scientific and medical accomplishments”. After Christine’s birth, her father, Tommaso, was appointed by Charles V of France as Court Astrologer, a position he held until Charles’ death in 1380.

When Charles VI took the power and the cantankerous period of regency began, Tommaso fell out of favour, and his salary and perquisites were cut. And as a result of such misfortune the family’s opulence declined, and after a long illness, Christine’s father died in 1385.

In 1390, Christine de Pisan married a young courtier from Picardy, Estienne de Castel, notary to the King, by whom she had three children. Later on Christine’s husband died, and she was left to take care of her children, and her mother. Christine’s patrons included King Charles VI of France, “for whom she wrote the biography of his father, Louis the dauphin; Charles King of Navarre; Jean duc de Berry, and Charles the Bold…and she was invited to the courts of London and Milan”

Christine had the privilege of receiving a solid literary education, which was rarely granted to a woman, at court. In fact, Christine’s education had been unusual for a “nobleman” of the time, much less a woman. She wrote exclusively and meticulously in the French vernacular of the time, and must have been trained to read Latin in order to be an active participant in the fifteenth-century debate that has been known as the Querelle de la Rose. One must also not to forget to mention that the substantial development of her intellectual capacity and significance of her literary education was due to her father’s encouragement. Although, we can clearly state that her mother had never approved of her daughter’s ability in her intellectual endeavor.

The Querelle de la Rose is a literary debate that occurred in the opening years of the fifteenth-century, “pitted Christine and her powerful ally Jean Gerson, the chancellor of the University of Paris,” against the infamous humanist “royal secretaries Gontier and Pierre Col and Jean de Montreuil. The attack, of course, by nature was a moralistic quarrel with the humanist trio about the literary excellence and effect of
Le Roman de la Rose; one of the most praised literary pieces of the Middle Ages.

Le Roman de la Rose (or Romance of the Rose) is a marvelous epic poem that had been of great influence on Chaucer and his contemporaries. It is an allegorical love poem that first came to life around 1225 by Guillaume de Lorris and was gradually completed and augmented around 1275 by Jean de Menu. The poem describes the “ultimately successful quest of a lover for the mystical and fleshly Rose.

In the Querelle de la Rose, Christine viewed her society as “spiritually” adrift and tried to establish an argument which demonstrated the “popularity of attractive but immoral literature”. For Christine the Rose was also “threatening because it reinforced the dominant misogyny of the Middle Ages, representing women as unchaste objects of desire”. Furthermore, Men get away with such misrepresentation, as Christine has articulated, simply because they own the pen and thus “they can tell endless tales and keep the best parts for themselves” with impunity. And she answers that, “women did not write these books…if women had written these books, I know full well the matter would have been handled differently”. What is the object of her disdain for such literature is the fact that she finds the Roman de la Rose’s tone and theme disgraceful, not merely for its sexual frankness, but for the approach it had taken to attribute some uncertain manners and morals to women.




Katayoun

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

What an interesting piece of scholarly introduction. I enjoyed reading it, and at the same time explored your site for a bit and found that I would like to revisit this site, often.

Good Work,

Mandana

Anonymous said...

Great Info, nice work, cool site. My friend directed me here.


Shahram Shams

Bita said...

Dear Mandana,

We are glad that you found the site inviting. I hope to see you again. and thanks for your compl about the "piece".
-------
Dear Shahram Shams

Our salutation to you and your kind friend for directing you to visit our site.
with compl(s) such as these, we are more determined to do whatever we can to make your visits more pleasant.

serendip said...

What a remarkable woman for her age or any age. Thanks for sharing this with your readers.

katayoun said...

Serendip,

vous êtes l'accueil. You are welcome

jane davenport said...

Thanks a lot for your interesting blog.

I have been fond of Christine de Pisan for quite a while reading a lot about her life.

I am impressed by her courage in pointing out the misogynistic ideas spread among the male dominated world.

In "Le livre de la Cité des Dames", she mentions Anastaise praising her skills as an "enlumineresse". I advise you the reading of the e-book "Anastaise, the Sharpened medieval Quill" by A. Warwick.

The historical fiction deals with the “querelle du roman de la rose” and the ideas of Christine de Pisan and her role in the Court of King Charles VI.
The diary of Anastaise depicts her daily life with the French poet and first female writer in Europe. Told from the perspective of a sharp-eyed teenage girl, the feminist ideas of Christine de Pisan offer an acute insight into the fight of women challenging misogyny in late medieval France.

http://www.amazon.com/Anastaise-Sharpened-Medieval-Quill-ebook/dp/B009W4FT4M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351151911&sr=8-1&keywords=Anastaise%2C+the+Sharpened+Medieval+Quill

jane davenport said...

Thanks a lot for your interesting blog.

I have been fond of Christine de Pisan for quite a while reading a lot about her life.

I am impressed by her courage in pointing out the misogynistic ideas spread among the male dominated world.

In "Le livre de la Cité des Dames", she mentions Anastaise praising her skills as an "enlumineresse". I advise you the reading of the e-book "Anastaise, the Sharpened medieval Quill" by A. Warwick.

The historical fiction deals with the “querelle du roman de la rose” and the ideas of Christine de Pisan and her role in the Court of King Charles VI.
The diary of Anastaise depicts her daily life with the French poet and first female writer in Europe. Told from the perspective of a sharp-eyed teenage girl, the feminist ideas of Christine de Pisan offer an acute insight into the fight of women challenging misogyny in late medieval France.

http://www.amazon.com/Anastaise-Sharpened-Medieval-Quill-ebook/dp/B009W4FT4M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351151911&sr=8-1&keywords=Anastaise%2C+the+Sharpened+Medieval+Quill

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for your interesting blog.

I have been fond of Christine de Pisan for quite a while reading a lot about her life. In "Le livre de la Cité des Dames", she mentions Anastaise praising her skills as an "enlumineresse".

I advise you the reading of the ebook "Anastaise, the Sharpened medieval Quill" by A. Warwick.
The historical fiction deals with the “querelle du roman de la rose” and the ideas of Christine de Pisan and her role in the Court of King Charles VI.

http://www.amazon.com/Anastaise-Sharpened-Medieval-Quill-ebook/dp/B009W4FT4M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351151911&sr=8-1&keywords=Anastaise%2C+the+Sharpened+Medieval+Quill