chapter  7
14 Pages

Christine's Treasure

Women's Honor and Household Economies in the Livre des trois vertus
WithRoberta L. Krueger

Critics have long acknowledged that the Livre des trois vertus occupies a distinct place both within Christine de Pizan's corpus and within late medieval didactic literature. A companion volume to the Cite des dames, the book of advice that Christine dedicated in 1405 to the young Margaret of Burgundy is more practical and more direct than the Cite des dames. The Trois vertus stands out in the way it portrays women's economic lives. Christine de Pizan's Trois vertus expands upon the vocabulary of her predecessors and redefines the scope of female virtue. The economic role that Christine envisages for the "dames et damoiselles du manoir" exceeds active collection and management of traditional revenues. Christine's emphasis on female honor is striking. Christine advocates a system in which women actively manage court and household economies and in which such economic activity is commensurate with their social identities.