While doing research for this article I found the names of some women I was familiar with, some whose names I had heard but was not familiar with their stories, and some I had not heard of. I hope this article brings you the same.
What makes these women influential is that they left their mark on the world in their own time and are still remembered today for their contributions. The plight of women during the Renaissance made it almost impossible for a woman to accomplish anything for which she could be note worthy in her own right. The three women in this article are some of the women of the Renaissance who did just that!
Onorata Rodiana was born in the town of Castillone in Cremona, in the north of Italy. She was an artist who painted frescoes. Frescoes are paintings that are painted on freshly plastered walls, directly onto the wet plaster.
She was commissioned to do a mural for Count Fandolo. While she was working, one of the Count's court members attempted to rape her. Onorata Rodiana defended herself by fatally stabbing the would-be rapist and then escaped, disguised as a man. The Count sent out soldiers to find her, but to no avail. Eventually Count Fandolo realized no one else could finish the mural and pardoned her so she would come back and finish. But it was too late. She had joined a band of mercenary soldiers, called Condotierre, and eventually became leader of her own band. She remained an artist and condotierre for the rest of her life, and died 30 years later; trying to aide her home town which was under siege by Venetians.
Charlotte Guillard's first husband was a printer in Paris. When he died she continued to run the business for 2 years , until she married her second husband, Claude Chevallon, in 1519 or 1520. She taught him the business, which they continued to run together until his death in either 1535 or 1537. She continued on alone until her own death in 1557.
Her masterwork was the publishing of the Greek and Latin Dictionary of Jacques Toussaint. When he died the work was completely disorganized. She put it all together and published it. Her imprint, Soleil d'Or still operates today!
Christine de Pizan
Born in 1363, in Venice, Italy, Christine de Pizan was the daughter of Thomas de Pizan; a very well educated man who was also Councillor of the Venetian Republic. Christine was raised at the court of Charles V of France and took full advantage of the opportunity to educate herself there.
She was married at age 15 and widowed at age 24. To help support herself and her 3 children she began writing. She produced hundreds of ballads and poems as well as books.
Christine de Pizan's great contribution was to give a positive voice to issues of importance to women at all levels of Renaissance society; in an era of overwhelming misogyny. Her writing attempted to counteract all the negative stereotypes of women by creating positive role models for women.
The works of these three women are an inspiration to us still today.