WOMEN’S HISTORY † CRISTINA DA PIZZANO (1364 – c. 1430)
Cristina da Pizzano was born in Venice, Italy in 1364 to Tommaso di Benvenuto da Pizzano. Not long after her birth, the family went to the court of the French king, Charles V, where her father served as Charles’ astrologer and physician. She was educated in languages and the classics. At 15, she married Étienne du Castel by whom she had three children. In 1390, her husband died during an epidemic in Beauvais. To support her family, she began writing love ballads that caught the attention of powerful people in the French court.
In 1401, she took part in a debate about Roman de la Rose and claimed that the work slandered women. It was because of this debate that Cristina began work on her magnum opus, Le Livre de la Cité des Dames, a work that defends women’s virtues and intelligence. This work was followed by Le trésor de la cité des dames, dedicated to Marguerite de Bourgogne, that advocates for the education of women. Her last work was Ditié de Jehanne d’Arc, a poem dedicated to the memory of Jehanne d’Arc.