Christine de Pizan: the Scribal Fingerprint
Aussems, Johannes Franciscus Alphonsus
This thesis is concerned with the supervised manuscripts of the works of Christine de Pizan (ca 1364-ca 1430), the first female author who could make a living from the products of her pen. During her long and prolific career as an author, she composed numerous works for noble and royal patrons of France, which were made into manuscripts by Parisian scribes and illuminators. Scholars have argued that Christine supervised the production of these manuscripts. Moreover, on several occasions the hypothesis has been raised that Christine also copied several of them herself, thus acting as scribe X alongside two other scribes, called P and R. The aim of this thesis is twofold: firstly, to gain a better understanding of the production process of the supervised manuscripts of Christine de Pizan's works and of the role played by the author; secondly, to develop and test a new methodology for distinguishing between scribal hands in medieval manuscripts. An account of Christine de Pizan's life and a survey of all surviving supervised manuscripts of her works clearly show that she had extensive knowledge of how they were made. Monotextual manuscripts of her works were often produced in series, in an attempt to economise and speed up the production process. The manuscripts of Christine's collected works show a production and editing process that resembles modern-day printing-on-demand. This thesis further demonstrates the use and success of the Scribal Fingerprint, a new and objective method of distinguishing between scribal hands that consists of three palaeographical core differentiators and two additional differentiators. A Scribal Fingerprint examination of the handwriting in MS Harley 4431, the most recent of the four surviving manuscripts containing Christine's collected works, generates highly heterogeneous differentiator values for the thirteen folios that were analysed. This analysis is combined with an examination executed by GIWIS, an innovative computer application for handwriting analysis. Both strngly suggest that MS Harley 4431, thought by some scholars to have been transcribed entirely by scribe X, was in fact copied by more than one scribe.