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The Debate: First Phase

The Debate: First Phase

(p.49) II The Debate: First Phase
Debate of the Romance of the Rose
Christine de Pizan
University of Chicago Press

The opening volley of the battle against the highly popular and widely read Romance of the Rose for its blatant and unwarranted misogynistic depictions of women occurred in the first years of the fifteenth century, in a literary debate sparked by Christine de Pizan. Christine exchanged letters critical of Jean de Meun's contribution to The Romance of the Rose with two French royal secretaries, Jean de Montreuil and Gontier Col. When the matter became public, Jean Gerson, one of Europe's leading theologians, supported de Pizan's arguments against de Meun, for the moment silencing the opposition. The debate resurfaced repeatedly over the next two hundred years. The Triumph of Women (1438) by Juan Rodríguez de la Camara (or Juan Rodríguez del Padron) struck a new note by presenting arguments for the superiority of women to men. The Rose debate represents more than a statement: it is a crucial staging of Christine's movement from disenfranchised woman to female author. From her first intervention in the debate, in her letter in response to Jean de Montreuil's now-lost treatise in defense of the Romance of the Rose, she plays with the characteristics of her positioning as female.

Keywords:   fifteenth century, Christine de Pizan, Jean Gerson, Romance of the Rose, Jean de Meun, treatise

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