chapter  15
19 Pages

Christine and the Manuscript Tradition

WithJames Laidlaw

Christine de Pizan's works are extant in some 200 manuscripts, nearly all copied in Northern France and the Low Countries during the fifteenth or early sixteenth centuries. Fifty of these manuscripts were produced in Paris between 1399 and 1418 by the author's "scriptorium," the group of scribes and artists whom Christine engaged to make copies of her works. The fifty manuscripts so far identified as autographs are linked by three features—contents, decoration, and scribal hands—which show them to be the products of Christine's scriptorium. Christine lived and worked in Paris at a time of exceptional activity and creativity in book trade. In the earliest years of her publishing career her financial resources were limited. The preparation of copies of Christine's narrative poems, some of her earliest works, proved to be a more straightforward operation. Two autograph manuscripts of the Debat de deux amans date from 1399-1404; in both manuscripts the poem is introduced by a relatively unsophisticated miniature in grisaille.