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Towards Feminism: Christine De Pizan, Female Advocacy, and Women’s Textual Communities in the Late Middle Ages and Beyond

Roberta Krueger

in The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe

Published in print August 2013 | ISBN: 9780199582174
Published online January 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199582174.013.031

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Towards Feminism: Christine De Pizan, Female Advocacy, and Women’s Textual Communities in the Late Middle Ages and Beyond

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Although "feminist" claims for full legal and political emancipation were nonexistent in the Middle Ages and women had restricted access to education, many elite women throughout Europe left eloquent written testimony of their intellectual and literary gifts. Some women explicitly took up the pen to defend women's honor against misogynistic attacks and to champion their contributions to society. This chapter focuses on the pro-feminine works of Christine de Pizan (1364–1430?), who not only engaged in an epistolary debate with male authorities denouncing the Romance of the Rose as antifeminist, but also wrote two works explicitly defending female virtue and promoting women's social well-being: The City of Ladies and The Treasure of the City of Ladies. Christine's work participated in the spread of women's literacy; her female advocacy anticipated arguments for women's education and critiques of marriage made by subsequent female humanists and early modern women writers in France, Italy, and England.

Keywords: feminism; misogyny (antifeminism); medieval women's education and literacy; Christine de Pizan; The City of Ladies; The Treasure of the City of Ladies; querelle des femmes; debate of the Romance of the Rose; critique of marriag

Article.  8471 words. 

Subjects: History ; Gender and Sexuality ; Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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