Christine de Pisan

Christine de Pisan was bom in Venice, Italy in about 1365. She moved to Paris as a child of three when her father was appointed as King Charles V's doctor. Christine de Pisan's The City of Ladies, was the first history book written about women from the point of view of a woman. In the book Christine argues that male historians had given a distorted picture of the role played by women in history. The book attempted to redress the balance by providing a positive view of women's achievements.

Pisan's next book, Three Virtues, gave advice on how women could improve their situation. Christine wrote several other books including a book on military law and a biography of King Charles V. Her final work was a poem celebrating the achievements of Joan of Arc. In the poem Christine pointed out that it was a woman who had saved the kingdom of France, "something that 5,000 men could not have done." Christine de Pisan died in about 1430.

Primary Sources

(1) Christine de Pisan, The Life of Charles V (1409)

I gathered my information concerning his life, surroundings, behaviour life-style and his specific acts either from chronicles or from talking to famous people who are still alive.

(2) Christine de Pisan, City of Ladies (1405)

I know a woman today, named Anastasia who is so learned and skilled in painting manuscript borders and miniature backgrounds that one cannot find an artisan in all the city of Paris... who can surpass her... People cannot stop talking about her. And I know this from experience, for she has executed several things for me which stand out among the paintings of the great masters.

(3) Christine de Pisan, City of Ladies (1405)

I am amazed by the opinion of some men who claim that they do not want their daughters or wives to be educated because they would be ruined as a result... Not all men (and especially the wisest) share the opinion that it is bad for women to be educated. But it is very true that many foolish men have claimed this because it upset them that women knew more than they did.

(4) Christine de Pisan, a poem in defence of women (c. 1410)

They neither kill nor wound, nor lop off limbs,

They do not plot, or plunder or persecute.