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This article was published on, it is presented here by permission of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers.

Christine de Pizan: A Fifteenth Century Champion of Women

By Daphne Palmer Geanacopoulos

"Introduction: Many think of power in the Middle Ages as a male-dominated sphere. In many ways it was. History records that men held what was called the formal, direct exercise of public authority. They controlled the Church and the aristocracy, the two power centers in medieval culture. Their decisions influenced the social, economic and political life of society, and touched the lives of every citizen.

In fourteenth-century France, women were generally thought to be inferior and subordinate to men. The ruling men—the two groups with the least familiarity with women, formed ideas about women. 'On the one hand was the clerkly order, usually celibate, and on the other, a narrow caste who could afford to regard its women as an ornamental asset while strictly subordinating them to the interests of its primary asset, the land.'"

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Published 16 Feb 2011