Louise Labé was born in 1525 to a rope-maker and his wife. She believed women could do or learn anything. This is during the time period just after the Black Death and when women were thought of as property. Lyons, the city of her birth, was from where the French Renaissance spread. She wrangled up an education for herself despite that she was a woman and from the lower middle class.
“Since a time has come, Mademoiselle, when the severe laws of men no longer prevent women from applying themselves to the sciences and other disciplines, it seems to me that those of us who can should use this long-craved freedom to study and to let men see how greatly they wronged us when depriving us of its honor and advantages. And if any woman becomes so proficient as to be able to write down her thoughts, let her do so and not despise the honor, but rather flaunt it instead of fine clothes, necklaces, and rings. For these may be considered ours only by use, whereas the honor of being educated is ours entirely. ” Louise Labé
At the age of twenty-two, she became a superlative horsewoman, archer, dancer, singer, musician and even martial artist. She even loved jousting. During the Perpignan siege, she put on armor and fought for them. She is also known as a poet. Here’s a sample:
Kiss me again, kiss, kiss me again;
Give me the tastiest you have to give,
Pay me the lovingest you have to spend:
And I’ll return you four, hotter than live
After her death, detractors couldn’t wrap their minds around a woman writing passionate poetry. In 1584, John Calvin denounced Louise as a courtesan and whore and she became known as “la Belle Cordière” (the beautiful rope-makers wife).
Perhaps Louise knew better than anyone her biographers would battle over her reputation when she wrote, “I see my fate, and it’s a bitter pill.” And here’s another wonderful line of hers “a woman’s heart always has a burned mark.”
Uppity Women of Medieval Times by Vicki Leon