Christine de Pizan’s Enseignemens moraux: Good Advice for Several Generations
Reno, Christine (VASSAR COLLEGE)
Christine de Pisan: The Making of the Queen’s Manuscript (2005)
Christine de Pizan’s Enseignemens moraux, or Moral teachings, is a collection, in the modern edition by Maurice Roy, of one hundred thirteen nuggets of moral and practical advice addressed to the author’s son. Christine’s counsels are artfully worded in quatrains of eight-syllable lines rhyming a/a b/b. We cannot know exactly when the Enseignemens moraux was written, but the probable date of composition coincides with the departure of Christine’s young son, Jean du Castel, to England. That most likely occurred towards the end of 1398, when he left for the household of the Earl of Salisbury, to continue his education with Salisbury’s somewhat younger son, Thomas, future leader of the English army. As events transpired, Jean ended up for a short while, much to his mother’s dismay, at the court of Henry IV.
The first edition we have of the Enseignemens moraux is dated 1399-1402, in the manuscript Chantilly, Musée Condé 492, the first volume of the first known edition of Christine de Pizan’s Collected Works copied in her workshop. A virtually identical copy of the Enseignemens is found in a contemporary one-volume edition of the Collected Works that can confidently be dated to 1402-1403: Paris, BnF fr. 12779.