The Book of the City of Ladies

1683 Words7 Pages
The Book of the City of Ladies

During the renaissance many different views of leadership surfaced.

Christine de Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies, Niccolo

Machiavelli’s The Prince, and William Shakespeare’s Richard III each

present distinct views of what would make a good leader during the

renaissance period. Shakespeare and Christine de Pizan’s views align

most closely with Plato’s. Christine de Pizan’s view also aligns with

Augustine’s medieval view of leadership. Machiavelli’s view, however,

strays the farthest from Plato and Augustine.

In The Book of the City of Ladies, Christine presents an allegorical

city made up of great ladies from history. Allegorical characters

Reason, Rectitude, and Justice guide Christine to the proper view of

women by dispelling slanderous lies spread by men throughout history.

As the leaders in Christine’s journey, Reason, Rectitude, and Justice

represent characteristics that leaders should hold. Christine

establishes Reason as the foundation of great leadership by saying

through Reason, “I was commissioned, in the course of our common

deliberation, to supply you with durable and pure mortar to lay the

sturdy foundations and to raise the large walls” (12). Rectitude

represents the benevolence leadership requires as she says, “I often

visit the just and exhort them to do what is right, to give to each

person what is his according to his capacity, to say and uphold the

truth, to defend the rights of the poor and the innocent, not to hurt

anyone through usurpation, to uphold the reputation of those unjustly

accused” (12). Finally, Justice presents in the terminating qualities

of truth and pure honor as she says, “I teach men and women of sound

mind who want to belie...

... middle of paper ...

...his work is completely opposite the ideal Augustine


Christine de Pizan, Niccollo Machiavelli, and William Shakespeare show

several different forms of Renaissance leadership. Each writer

expresses their version of leadership by giving examples of what a

leader should and should not be. Shakespeare and Christine de Pizan’s

leaders most closely fit the Platonic ideal of leadership by ruling

through wisdom, being reluctant to lead, and promoting the idea of

true virtues over shadows of virtue. The Augustine leadership ideal,

characterized by a love for God and people, most closely resembles

Christine de Pizan’s view as many of her leaders strive to please God

in their leadership. Machiavelli’s radical idea of leadership

resembles neither Plato nor Augustine as it promotes seeking power

through less than virtuous methods for less than noble reasons.
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