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ALLEGORY – A form of literature, popular in the Middle Ages, that joined biblical and classical traditions together in a story which often had a hidden or double meaning.  Various human qualities and virtues could be depicted as male or female characters in the story.

TRÉBUCHET – A military device for hurling stones, arrows, etc.  Often used in a siege to launch stones and other objects over a wall onto a city under attack, it originated in China. 

CHIVALRY -  A code of behavior and training for knights in the Middle Ages, emphasizing correct conduct in war and in everyday life, with an emphasis on courtesy towards women.

CLERIC -  Member of a religious order.  Clerics played significant roles in education and government because of their ability to read and write Latin.

DITIÉ  -  Term from Old French meaning a composition or poem, which might be spoken aloud.  From the Latin words for “to dictate” and “to speak.”

HUMANISM – A philosophical movement influenced by Classical literature and centered in Italy during the 15th Century.  Emphasis was on education for everyone in order to create more autonomous and free-thinking individuals, which in turn would encourage them to behave prudently and virtuously in society.

LOMBARD – Medieval French term for an Italian person;  many Italians living in Paris were originally from the region of Lombardy. 

MANTLE  -  A loose sleeveless cloak or cape, worn especially by women.

ROMANCE -  A book in prose and/or verse, with the story usually centering on themes of love and courtly manners, popular in the Middle Ages.

SURCOAT – A sleeveless over-dress or outer coat of rich material.

VIRELAY – A form of French verse with interlacing rhymes, having alternating long and short lines.


  • Christine de Pizan, Her Life and Works, Charity Cannon Willard, Persea Books, 1984.

  • The Writings of Christine de Pizan, Charity Cannon Willard, Persea Books, 1994.

  • The Book of the City of Ladies, Christine de Pizan, Transl. Earl Jeffrey Richards, Persea Books, 1982

  • The Vision of Christine de Pizan, Glenda McLeod & Charity Cannon Willard, D.S.Brewer, 2005

  • Christine de Pizan and the Fight for France, Tracy Adams, Penn State Press, 2014

  • Debating the Roman de la Rose, Christine McWebb, Editor, Routledge Medieval Texts, 2007.

  • The Romance of the Rose, Guillaume de Loris, Jean de Meun, Transl. Francis Horgan, Oxford U. Press, 1994

  • The Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius, Transl. Victor Watts, Penguin Classics, Rev. Ed. 1999

  • A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, Barbara Tuchman, Random House Trade Paperbacks 2014

  • Blood Royal, Eric Jager, Little, Brown and Company, 2014

  • more to come...

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