Aesculapius and Circe from BL Harley 4431, f. 113v
Detail of a miniature of the physician Aesculapius making a diagnosis, while Circe spears frogs in a stream below, in 'L'Épître Othéa'. Image taken from f. 113v of Various works (also known as 'The Book of the Queen'), including 'Cent balades' (ff. 4-21), 'Le Débat du livre des ii amans' (ff. 58v-71), 'Le Livre des iii jugements' (ff. 71v-81), 'L'Épître Othéa' (ff. 95-141v), 'Le Duc des vrais amants' (ff. 143- 177v), 'Le Livre du chemin de long estude' (ff. 178-219v), 'Le Livre de la pastoure' (ff. 221-236v), 'Le Livre des Épîtres sur le Roman de la rose' (ff. 237-254), 'La Cité des dames' (ff. 288v-374), etc. Written in French.
Christine de Pizan ( 1364 – c. 1430) was an Italian-French late medieval court writer for Louis of Orleans, Philip the Bold of Burgundy, and John the Fearless of Burgundy and the French royal court during the reign of Charles VI. She completed forty-one works during her 30-year career from 1399–1429, both poetry and prose, biographies and books containing practical advice for women. Married in 1380 at the age of 15, she was widowed 10 years later. She needed to earn a living to support her mother, a niece and her two surviving children. She spent most of her life in Paris and then the abbey at Poissy, and wrote entirely in her adopted language, Middle French. Supported and encouraged by important royal French and English patrons, she influenced 15th-century English poetry. Her success stems from a wide range of innovative writing and rhetorical techniques that critically challenged renowned writers such as Jean de Meun, author of the Romance of the Rose, which she criticized as immoral. Certain scholars have argued that she should be seen as an early feminist who efficiently used language to convey that women could play an important role in society. This characterization has been challenged by other critics, who say that it is either an anachronistic use of the word or a misinterpretation of her writing and intentions.