Skip to main content

Distributed for Iter Press

The Ship of Virtuous Ladies

Edited and Translated by Todd W. Reeser
First published in 1503 in Lyons, Symphorien Champier’s The Ship of Virtuous Ladies helped launch the French Renaissance version of the querelle des femmes, the debate over the nature and status of women. The three books included in this edition include arguments for gender equality, and a catalogue of virtuous women modeled on Boccaccio’s Famous Women and Jacobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend. Titled “The Book of True Love,” book 4 is especially important in gender history, importing and transforming the male-centered Neoplatonic philosophy of Marsilio Ficino for pro-woman ends.

Iter Press image

View all books from Iter Press


"Symphorien Champier’s La nef des dames vertueuses (The Ship of Virtuous Ladies), a central text in the debates about women in early modern France, has at last been translated into English by Todd Reeser (following the first complete modern French edition by Judy Kem in 2007). Champier’s Ship explicitly sets out to defend women, although this professed aim is complicated in ways that the editor explains. Preceded by a first-rate introduction situating the work both historically and rhetorically, the volume demonstrates a version of Neoplatonism in which women can participate, offers advice to new wives, praises countless legendary and historical women, and proffers medical counsel. Students of early modern culture, women’s studies, and medical history will doubtless applaud Reeser’s meticulously researched and elegantly presented edition."

Cathy Yandell, Carleton College

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xiii
Introduction 1
The Ship of Virtuous Ladies 27
Title Page 29
Double Rondeau about The Ship of Ladies 29
Prologue of the Author in French in Rhetorical Style on The Ship of Ladies 30
Genealogy of the Noble and Excellent House of Bourbon 35
Poems Summarizing the First Book, in the Form of a Polemic against Defaming Ladies 37
Book 1 of The Ship of Virtuous Ladies: Praise, Flowers, and Defense of Women 39
Book 2 of The Ship of Virtuous Ladies: Rules for Marriage 95
Book 3 of The Ship of Virtuous Ladies: The Prophecies and Oracles of the Sibyls 120
Book 4 of The Ship of Virtuous Ladies: The Book of True Love 121
Bibliography 137
Index 149

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press