chapter  5
21 Pages

Christine de Pizan

Memory's Architect
WithMargarete Zimmermann

This chapter documents Christine de Pizan's manifold activities as an architect of memory. Memoria can be considered as an element of rhetoric or as a memorial art as studied by Frances Yates. Christine used this concept in a much-quoted passage from the Advision Christine. While with her mythological and didactic poem Epistre Othea Christine remains within the boundaries of ancient memorial art, one can already detect the first signs of a broader concept of memory. The Epistre Othea shows that Christine was familiar with the primarily rhetorical memorial tradition but by using the miniatures as mnemotechnical storage media she drew on this tradition in an innovative fashion. In her Livre de la mutacion de Fortune Christine describes herself as possessing a "nobel chappel de grant pris". This important work on the philosophy of history can be read as a description of the battle between two antagonistic forces, the force of continuous change and uncertainty—Fortuna—and the force that maintains and remembers—Memoria.