Forty seven extant man­u­scripts of the Epistre Othéa bear witness to the impor­tance of the work itself, and to the ways in which Christine became the first pro­fes­sional female author from the Middle Ages. Among the most important man­u­scripts of the work, we want to high­light the one pre­served at the British Library:

Christine de Pizan. The Book of the Queen [con­tains most of Christine de Pizan’s works]. British Library. Harley, 4431.

The book, created under the super­vision of Christine de Pizan herself, was ded­i­cated to Isabeau of Bavaria (d. 1435), the Queen of France, married to Charles VI (r. 1380–1422). Because of Charles’s psy­chotic con­dition, from 1393 onwards the Queen Isabeau was the legal regent of the kingdom. Christine’s inter­ac­tions with Isabeau go far and beyond lit­erary under­takings, and both become involved in political dis­cussion through Christine’s works on political theory.

This Episte Othéa is par­tic­u­larly inter­esting because of the invention of the Queen of Pru­dence, con­sid­ering that the virtue of pru­dence, according to Aris­totelian political and ethical com­men­tators, can be con­cep­tu­alized as the central political virtue –and, of the four ethical virtues described by Aris­totle, pru­dence is the only one that he con­siders dia­noetic, or emi­nently intel­lectual. With this political and the­o­retical base, Christine retakes a central theme of medieval mas­culinity, chivalry, and the­o­rizes it for one of the models of knighthood, Hector, from the per­spective of the goddess.