Women who move
Benedetta Craveri, Amanti e regine [Lovers and Queens], Adelphi 2008
It is true that men make and write history, but not everyone knows that women have also moved the threads of that same history, perhaps invisibly, but in a concrete and powerful way. I was given Benedetta Craveri’s book as a present, and despite its size I devoured it with pleasure and curiosity. She was able to make me swallow two centuries of French history (16th-18th centuries) without ever making me feel full. The Dumasian memory of Queen Anne of Austria, soppy with Lord Buckingam, dissolves in front of an iron woman who ruled France for years, while facing the terrible Cardinal Richelieu, and putting up with his son's growing hostility, without flinching. We are not only talking about queens but also about the mistresses of kings, who were able to support fronds, dictate fashions, suggest architecture, for example, the gardens of Versailles. Yes, it is true that not many women wrote history but in many cases history passed through their silent and powerful listening. For example, Madame de Maintenon, morganatic wife of Louis XIV, the Sun King, who gathered the war council for 35 years in the marriage room and wanted her to be always present. Is it fair to ask why?