Women Advisors

Contrary to many men and clergy advising noble governors, many of them famous as womanizers, there is a long tradition of women as advisors as well. The first woman that received high reputation as advisor is “Christine de Pizan“. She was born in Italy and migrated to France with her father who was a scientist and advisor to  “Charles V” as medical doctor and astrologist, but who died soon after the move to the French court. With the access to a unique library at the time Christine de Pizan benefited from the best of knowledge and her literary and scientific competences made her famous later on. She could even be compared to Clausewitz as a well known writer on war strategies, but has a much broader literary reach compared over centuries.
Christine de Pizan became a writer in her own right, publishing under her own name in the late 14th century already and not only in literary work, but in fields previously thought to be domains of male writers only. One of her writings “Livre des fais d’armes et de chevalerie” is a testimony of her political and strategic thinking and advice. It remains a unique piece of a woman as advisor in military affairs published in 1410. The translation into “Alemannisch” (1460) highlights the importance of her strategic advice beyond France.
Her literary excellence has been widely appreciated not the least in her praise of Jeanne d’Arc in her “Ditiè”, the poem in honor of Jeanne d’Arc. (source with translation). Christine de Pizan also wrote on peace (Le livre de la paix” 1412 and the “Livre du chemin de longue étude“, today we would translate it as a book on lifelong learning.
(Source: Zimmermann, Margarete, 2005: Minervas jüngere Schwester: Die politische Schrifstellerin Christine de Pizan, Stabi Berlin, KulturStiftung der Länder Patrimonia 265 und SPK.
(Image: Extrait Christine de Pizan im Gespräch mit Minerva. BNF, Paris, Ms. fr 603, fol.21r)