Timeless figures transcend History

October, 2018

Bonjour,

 

‘I am not afraid… I was born to do this’ – Jeanne d’Arc

Medieval History makes us remember grandiose Kings and Queens, bloody battles, majestic castles, dragon soups and witches’ grimoires, brave knights on white horses, mysterious tapestries relating courageous feats, amusing troubadours braving nosy nobles, opulent buffets that peasants never got to try out, and disgusting hygiene comparable to damp dungeons. Indeed, the medieval era is as fascinating as cruel and yet impacts our society more than we think.

In this trend report, our aim is to tell the tale of medieval and immortal female figures: women who braved obscurantism and dogmas (without Kevin Smith) since the dark ages. Some of them were adulated, respected or feared, although their journey remained the same. Without these inspiring icons, the present times would not be what they are now.

From velvet attires and blazing arbors to prophetic writings and hammering the final nail in the coffin, we are now venturing into real tales of women who had more panache (to have some pride) than the famous Kings of that era.

The Lady and the Unicorn, drawn in Paris around 1500

Christine de Pisan:
Reason, Rectitude & Justice – Italy, 1364 – 1430 

‘The man or the woman in whom resides greater virtue is the higher, neither the loftiness nor the lowliness of a person lies in the body according to the sex, but in the perfection of conduct virtues.’ – Christine de Pisan, The Book of the City of Ladies (c.1405) 

Born on 11th September 1364 in Venice, Christine de Pisan was perceived as an avant-garde thanks to her numerous studies conducted on the women condition within society. An Italian author, prominent moralist and political thinker, she served as a court writer during the reign of Charles VI from 1368. Widow of Estienne du Castel in 1389, she used her rebellious yet articulate feather with the hope of supporting her family.

From writing love ballads to challenging minds, she questioned Romance of the Rose by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, which satirises the conventions of courtly love while critically depicting women as nothing more than seducers. She then wrote The Book of the City of Ladies and The Treasure of the City of Ladies, which established her as a respected activist. In these two books, she defends women status and explains the three virtues that are most important to women’s success: Reason, Rectitude and Justice. Her thoughts have inspired and fascinated many modern feminists such as Simone de Beauvoir, who wrote in 1949, that Épître au Dieu d’Amourwas “the first time we see a woman take up her pen in defense of her sex”. Lastly, she wrote a tribute to Jeanne d’Arc, who is also featured in this Trend Report.


Hildebard von Bingen:
Musicality, Prophet & Genius Germany, 1098 – 1179 

Hildegard of Bingen is remembered for her endless accomplishments thanks to her magnificent brain. Not only did she explore theological, scientific and prophetic writings, but the genius had also another skillset under her sleeve. She placed herself as an inspiring virtuoso of her time thanks to her largely acclaimed work of music. She is one of the first identifiable composers in the history of Western music, particularly with her ‘A feather on the breath of God’, which became an unexpected bestseller.

Born as a German Benedictine abbess, she spent most of her life in an obscure monastery. But her prolific and visionary mind brought light to the dark ages and continues to stand the test of time.

 

“O eterne deus”

O dawn, you washed them away

in a woman who was clean.

O form of woman, sister of Wisdom,

how great is your glory!

For in you there rose a life unquenchable

that death shall never stifle.

Wisdom exalted you to make

all creatures fairer in your beauty

than they were when the world was born.

Ad Vitam S. Ruperti Epilogus 6, Pitra 364.


Jeanne d’Arc:
Virginity, Chivalry & Faith – France, 1412 – 1431 

‘Of the love or hatred God has for the English, I know nothing, but I do know that they will all be thrown out of France, except those who die there’ Jeanne d’Arc, Trial records (15 March 1431) 

Ha, Jeanne d’Arc. My favourite heroine of all times. Her incredible story still remains mysterious to the common people because of the mystical conditions surrounding it. Her determination, courage, and patriotism pushed her to venture into a prestigious yet tragic destiny engraved in the rock for centuries. Jeanne d’Arc also named the Maiden of Orleans (France), wasn’t born into a rich pageantry but in a simple peasantry in Domrémy’s village.

Her faith in God was limitless and by the age of 13, she began to hear what she described as her ‘voices’, also identified as the Archangel Michael and Saints Catherine and Margaret. They prompt her to become the holy warrior who will drive the English out of France during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453). After convincing the Dauphin Charles of her divine mission, she was given an armor, her own banner, and an army. Determined, she lifted the siege of Orléans on May 8, 1429, and pushed on to victories in several other cities to arrive at Rheims, where the Dauphin was crowned King Charles VII of France on July 17. After the coronation, Jeanne begged the King to deliver Paris from the English. But Charles was more preoccupied with trying to negotiate peace with Burgundy, who were supporters of the English. Jeanne then became too inconvenient and on her last mission as a mystic visionary, Jeanne was captured and imprisoned by the English and condemned by an ecclesiastical court to be burned at the stake in 1431. She was 19 years old and to this date, the most courageous warrior that France ever had.


Honi Rosenwax:
Modernity, Wizardry & Mentorship Australia, our times 

‘I want to work with kind people’ Honi Rosenwax, everyday mantra 

Honi Rosenwax is the modern wizard of our time, thriving in the sinuous and fast-paced field of public relations. Her magic tricks have been powerfully spreading across Australia for the past 16 years. No desert of Gobi (among being a well-known desert in China, it is also a French saying which highlights the nothingness), or crisis infernos will stop her endless intelligence. Her dark hair is as wavy as a wild ocean, probably symbolising the vibrant energy she puts into anything, from a project to taking care of someone.

If I had to compare Honi with the Medieval idols described above, I would say that she is as courageous and as determined as Jeanne D’Arc because she will never give up on a battle, which in our modern times, means taking care of her staff and getting the best outcome for her clients. She can motivate an entire army with just one of her eloquent spells or make everyone laugh by blurting out mispronounced names. Yes, it is the unbeatable PR paradox, that even the most powerful wizard remains so imperfectly human.

Like Christine de Pisan, Honi uses her rebellious yet articulate feather to tell stories that are worth repeating. Through creating Arize, she has created a place for women to thrive, to feel supported and to accomplish a better tomorrow.

Finally, what Honi shares with Hildegard of Bingen, is not so much the attire but more so the fact that she has shown cleverness thanks to her magnificent brain. An unstoppable mentor, people feel lifted by her presence and wisdom. Her wittiness reminds us to always find creative alternatives and most importantly, to always treat people with kindness.

We wanted to celebrate the idols of yesterday because they’ve played a part in building the ones of tomorrow. Honi, from your Arize family, thank you for everything you have shared with us so far and for continuously helping us grow. We are all delighted to see you thriving as a mother as well as the magical wizard that you are.

 

Au revoir.