Christine de Pizan is widely regarded as one of Europe’s earliest female professional authors, and is certainly one of the most prolific. Born in Venice in 1365, she moved to Paris as a young child when her father was appointed the royal astrologer and alchemist to King Charles V of France. Christine took advantage of the intellectual atmosphere of the court, making use of the royal library to teach herself languages, history, and literature. Her writing career began at the age of 24, after her husband, a royal secretary, died suddenly, and she was faced with the necessity of providing for herself and her small children. She soon attracted the patronage of a number of nobles at court, and produced dozens of major works over the next three decades, along with hundreds of ballads and poem
The largest extant collection of her writing can be found in Harley MS 4431.
A compilation, now in two volumes, produced for Isabeau (or Isabel) of Bavaria, the queen consort to Charles VI of France. This manuscript was written and decorated under Christine’s supervision, and it is possible that some of the passages are in her hand. The notable artists the Master of the Cité des Dames (see also Egerton MS 2709, Royal MS 19 E VI, and Royal MS 20 C IV) and the Master of the Duke of Bedford (see also Add MS 18850) were principally responsible for the illumination.