Medieval Monday: Etienne de Castel & Christine de Pizan

If you’re new to these here parts, every Monday I like to do what I call Medieval Monday. In past issues, I highlighted a specific term from the medieval ages and expanded on the definition, as well as described its appearance. However, I’ve decided to broaden what I cover and from now on Medieval Monday will cater to a whole host of different topics. The one thing every post will always have in common, though, is that it deals directly with the medieval age.

For the month of February, to carry the theme of Valentine’s Day, I have four medieval romances lined up. And if you’re wondering, no, Romeo & Juliet or King Arthur & Guinevere aren’t in the line-up. Everyone is plenty familiar with those tales, so I wanted to discuss more obscure romances. As always, if there is something you would like to see featured in a Medieval Monday, hop into the comments and say so.

Christine de Pizan was born in 1364 in Venice. Her father was the royal astrologer to King Charles V of France. With the doting love of her father, and despite the disapproval of her mother, Christine was allowed an education considered more fitting for boys in that period, learning such things as classical languages, history, literature, and religion.

At age fifteen, Christine married Etienne de Castel. He was a new graduate from the University of Paris, as well as a royal secretary. Considered to be one of the intellectual elite, Etienne represented the French Court in diplomatic events.

For ten years, Christine and Etienne were happily married. Then, in 1390, Etienne died of an illness sweeping across France. Christine was now a widow with two children to support, as well as her own elderly mother and niece. With no man of the house to provide for them, and poverty looming, Christine turned to writing to support the household.

Her works included love ballads dedicated to Etienne, as well as championed women. Christine was a remarkable woman, and not just because she is the first woman in western literature known to making a living from her writing.

Rest assured, dear friend, that many noteworthy and great sciences and arts have been discovered through the understanding and subtlety of women… ~ Christine de Pizan

If you wish to learn more of Christine and Etienne, you may go here and here.

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4 Comments

    1. Hey!

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad to hear you like Medieval Monday and will be coming back to read about the other three medieval romances!

  1. Ahhh. What a post. Pauvre Christine. SIgh. Only a sweeping illness and subsequent death of her beloved could force a woman to (gasp) make a living. Thanks for the bastien of sanity, culture and information in this world of things far too modern. Love Medieval Mondays! Are you familiar with the lais of Marie de France. Of course you are.
    ~Just Jill

    1. Thanks for stopping by!

      I’m glad you liked today’s Medieval Monday entry! I’ve heard of the Lais of Marie de France, but I’m afraid I haven’t had the privilege of actually reading the poems themselves. I’ll have to make an effort to do that though!

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