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CHRISTINE DE PISAN (1364-c. 1430)

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Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 648 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CHRISTINE DE PISAN (1364-c. 1430), French poet, of Italian birth, was born at Venice in 1364. When she was four years old she was brought to her father, a councillor of the Venetian Republic, in Paris, where he held office as astrologer to Charles V. At fifteen Christine married Etienne du Castel, who became Charles's notary and secretary. After the king's death in 138o her father lost his appointment, and died soon after; and when Christine's husband died in 1389 she found herself without a protector, and with three children depending on her. This determined her to have recourse to letters as a means of livelihood. Her first ballads were written to the memory of her husband, and as love poems were the fashion she continued to write others—lais, virelais, rondeaux and jeux a vendre—though she took the precaution to assure her readers (Cent balades, No. 50) that they were merely exercises. In 1399 she began to study the Latin poets, and between that time and 1405, as she herself declares, she composed some fifteen important works, chiefly in prose, besides minor pieces. The earl of Salisbury, who was in Paris on the occasion of the marriage of Richard II. with Isabella of France (1396), took her elder son, Jean du Castel (b. 1384), and reared him as his own; the boy, after Salisbury's death (1400). being received by Philip of Burgundy, at whose desire Christine wrote Le Livre des faitz et bonnes mceurs du sayge roy Charles' (1405), valuable as a first-hand picture of Charles V. and his court. Her Mutation de fortune, in which she finds room for a great deal of history and philosophy, was presented to the same patron on New Year's Day, 1404. It possesses an introduction of great autobiographical interest. In La Vision (1405) she tells her own history, by way of defence against those who objected to her pretensions as a moralist. Henry IV. of England desired her to make his court her home, and she received a like invitation from Galeazzo Visconti, tyrant of Milan. She preferred, however, to remain in France, where she enjoyed the favour of Charles VI., the dukes of Berry and Burgundy, the duchess of Bourbon and others. Christine was a champion of her own sex. In her Dit de la rose (1402) she describes an order of the rose, the members of which bind themselves by vow to defend the honour of women. Her Epitre au dieu d'amour (1399) is a defence of women against the satire of Jean de Meun, and initiated a prolonged dispute with two great scholars of her time, Jean de Montreuil (d. 1415) and Gonthier Col, who undertook the defence of the Roman de la rose. Christine wrote about 1407 two books for women, La Cite des dames and Le Livre des trois vertus, or Le Tresor de to cite des dames. She was devoted to her adopted country. During the civil wars she wrote a Lamentation (1410) and a Livre ' See C. B. Petitot, Collection complete des memoires relatifs a 1'histoire de France (1st series. vols. v. and vi., 1818, &c.l. Part of the first Bronze Door of the Baptistery at Florence, by Andrea Pisano. Pisano about 130v, and worked with him on the sculpture for S. Maria della Spina at Pisa and elsewhere. But it is at Florence that his chief works were executed, and the formation of his mature style was due rather to Giotto than to his earlier master. Of the three world-famed bronze doors of the Florentine baptistery, the earliest one—that on the south side—was the work of Andrea; he spent many years on it; and it was finally set up in 1336.1 It consists of a number of small quatrefoil panels—the lower eight containing single figures of the Virtues, and the rest scenes from the life of the Baptist. Andrea Pisano, while living in Florence, also produced many important works of marble sculpture, all of which show strongly Giotto's influence. In some cases probably they were actually designed by that artist, as, for in-stance, the double band of beautiful panel-reliefs which Andrea executed for the great campanile. The subjects of these are the Four Great Prophets, the Seven Virtues, the Seven Sacraments, the Seven Works of Mercy and the Seven Planets. The duomo contains the chief of Andrea's other Florentine works in marble. In 1347 he was appointed architect to the duomo of Orvieto, which had already been designed and begun by Lorenzo Maitani. The exact date of his death is not known, but it must have been shortly before the year 1349. Andrea Pisano had two sons, Nino and Tommaso—both, especially the former, sculptors of considerable ability. Nino was very successful in his statues of the Madonna and Child, which are full of human feeling and soft loveliness—a perfect embodiment of the Catholic ideal of the Divine Mother. Andrea's chief pupil was Andrea di Cione, better known as Orcagna (q.v.). Balduccio di Pisa, another, and in one branch (that of sculpture) equally gifted pupil, executed the wonderful shrine of S. Eustorgio at Milan—a most magnificent mass of sculptured figures and reliefs.
End of Article: CHRISTINE DE PISAN (1364-c. 1430)

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