Book for Women


Francesc Eiximenis (circa 1340–1409) was a Franciscan monk and a prolific writer. He studied in Catalonia, Oxford, and Toulouse, and probably in Paris. Considered a prestigious intellectual, he maintained good relations with the court of the kingdom of Aragon and with the municipal authorities of Barcelona and Valencia, the city where he wrote most of his works. In 1396 he finished writing Llibre de les dones (Book for women). The book avoids the misogynist tendency of its times. It is intended as a work of moral instruction, which it seeks to accomplish through a review of the different stages of women’s lives—from small girl to maiden, to wife, and to widow. Nuns are also considered. At the same time, it purports to be a kind of catechism, in which Eiximenis explains the key points of faith, morality, and Christian ethics. The work is important in providing a general vision of the life of women in the 14th century. The text was printed for the first time in 1495 by Joan Rosembach. Born in Heidelberg, Germany, Rosembach spent some years in Valencia before moving to Barcelona, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life, except for short periods in Tarragona, Perpignan, and Montserrat. He may have been the best printer in Catalonia using gothic type. The work is printed on paper in folio size, and has 12 unnumbered preliminary leaves and 268 leaves, wrongly numbered 267, in Roman numbers. It uses gothic type, with black letters and some borders. The epigraph, paragraph marks, and colophon and printer’s mark leaves are printed in black and red ink. The copy presented here has a beautiful engraving on the title page in green and red. Folio 1 is blank. The text has written apostils (annotations) and underlined endnotes. The binding is made of leather, with gold and iron in the spine. It is part of the Bonsoms-Chacón Collection, donated to the Biblioteca de Catalunya in 1948, after the death of Mercedes Chacón, widow of Isidre Bonsoms i Sicart. The Biblioteca de Catalunya also holds a copy of an issue with certain typographic and compositional differences from this book.

Last updated: January 13, 2015