chapter  4
13 Pages

Somewhere between Destructive Glosses and Chaos

Christine de Pizan and Medieval Theology
WithEarl Jeffrey Richards

The occurrence of a single but rare word, such as "chaos," points to Christine de Pizan's familiarity with specific Thomist texts. At the beginning of Christine's Advision, a hitherto unknown allegorical figure arises out of the deep with the name "Chaos" written on its forehead. Christine provides the stunning documentation of her extraordinary selfconsciousness as a poet-theologian in both the Epistre Othea and the prologue to the Advision. The best historical evidence for Christine as a theological thinker comes from Jean Gerson. Traditionally the saints were the living stones of the Heavenly Jerusalem, and Christine adapts this time-honored metaphor for her virtuous women as living stones of the City of Ladies. By presenting herself as a poeta theologus, Christine directly answers the question raised in the late thirteenth century by the Henry of Ghent whether a woman could be "a doctor or 'doctress' of theology".