Fairy Tale 1: Not Cinderella, but Christine de Pizan

The story of Christine de Pizan is inspiring and motivational. We all know Cinderella, who had her life turned around after meeting the prince. Well, I think we should know Pizan, who waited for no prince or knight in armor to save her life when she faced problems in life. Perhaps, it’s high time already to follow Pizan instead of Cinderella in this modern-day.

Long ago, during the middle ages in Europe, there lived a girl called Christine de Pizan. Born in Venice to a father who was an astrologer at the King Charles V court, she had access to a more extensive library from her childhood.

She read lots of books, wondered, and felt insulted about how almost every book objectified women. During those days, women were allowed to either marry or join a religious community when they come of age.

Quote of Pizan from the book 'City of Ladies'
Quote of Pizan from the book ‘City of Ladies’

Christine married at the age of 15 and was widowed ten years after with three children to support. Her father died due to illness before her husband’s death. Hence she is left with the financial struggle in managing her mother and three children. To run home, Christine started to write poems about her dead husband.

She wrote 100 poems on lost love, which became popularly known as ballads. Soon, she became the court writer of King Charles VI. The intellectual capacity, alternate perspective, and eloquent writing brought her fame and wealth.

She continued to write various books and poems focusing mainly on women’s oppression, lack of education for women, ways to fight against a misogynistic society, women’s freedom and fundamental rights, and their accomplishments. Her books had a vision of several thousand years into the future where the world is equal for men and women.

Pizan narrating how some men denied education for women in the middle ages.
Pizan narrating how some men denied education for women in the middle ages.

Pizan wrote some notable books like the City of Ladies,Three Virtues, the Faytes of Arms and of Chivalry, and the Joan of Arc. Each had its significance in the history of the feminism movement and women empowerment.

Pizan never considered love or remarriage as an excuse to protect her family from the financial troubles after her husband’s death.

In 1489, when Henry VII asked to print the book Faytes of Arm in English edition, Pizan’s name is left off the cover. Believing that the knights might not want to read the book on war written by a woman, her name didn’t appear on that edition.

Faytes of Arm and Chivalry, a book in which Pizan explains fair war, why it happens, and ways to prevent it. It also stresses the fact to avoid combats because it destroys many innocent people’s lives. Pizan has extensive knowledge of various aspects of lives, including love, women’s position in society, war, and living affected by it.

From Pizan's famous book 'Joan of Arc'
From Pizan’s famous book ‘Joan of Arc’

Like a hero, Pizan wrote about women and their issues in a male-dominated society. As the only known professional author during the medieval ages in Europe, she might not have any idea that she is paving roads for the feminism movement later.

It’s time to learn more about people like Christine de Pizan. Instead of waiting for a prince to arrive on a white horse, she worked hard to save herself and her family. Her books and poems stood firmly against the novels that portrayed women as evil and cruel slaves in marriage lives.

She raised voices for women and the significance of their education. Perhaps, Pizan is the modern-day Cinderella story one must learn.

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