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Medieval Mythography, Volume 3The Emergence of Italian Humanism, 1321-1475$
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Jane Chance

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813060125

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813060125.001.0001

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Christine de Pizan’s Illuminated Women in the Cité des Dames (1405)

Christine de Pizan’s Illuminated Women in the Cité des Dames (1405)

(p.272) Chapter Five Christine de Pizan’s Illuminated Women in the Cité des Dames (1405)
Medieval Mythography, Volume 3

Jane Chance

University Press of Florida

Christine de Pizan moves radically from allegory to a history of mythological, legendary, and historical women and saints in the Cité des Dames (1405), in which she emphasizes the euhemeristic concept of the gods as actual human beings who had once lived on earth. Although the reasons for Christine’s abrupt change in her attitude toward allegorization have not previously been explored, my contention is that it was shaped not only by her participation in the Debate but also by her reading of the earliest manuscript of a French translation of Boccaccio’s De mulieribus claris, with its highly feminized and more positive figurations of women, and by similar illuminated royal manuscripts of Orosius and Ovid. Christine de Pizan invests her allegorizations with personal and protofeminist concerns, “remythicizing” her history of legendary and classical mythological women in the Cité des Dames so that by means of their euhemerization and valorization she empowers the historical and political. Boccaccio’s work, like many of Christine’s dealing with women, was translated into the vernaculars of French and German and widely circulated in Europe and England during a time when queenship and female patronage were on the rise.

Keywords:   Christine, Cité, Boccaccio

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