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Maria Mancini: an indipendent woman

03 Marzo 2021
Maria Mancini: an indipendent woman Foto: Maria Vittoria Querini Maria Vittoria Querini
“The Mancini sisters came from the beautiful Mazarin race, generous blood, fiery instincts for adventure. They had strength, daring, dexterity: few scruples». Charles Augustin de Saint-Beuve

Mancini's roman family was related to Cardinal Giulio Mazarino, a highly skilled statesman, Prime Minister of France. His five grandchildren, Laura Vittoria, Olimpia, Maria, Ortensia and Marianna Mancini were daughters of his sister Geronima.
The Cardinal invited them all to the French Court in anticipation of advantageous marriages. They became known as les Mazarinettes and Michelet himself spoke of them as the bataillon des nièces du Mazarin.
Extremely unscrupulous, the girls never showed sincere attachment to this beneficial uncle, so much so that on his death their concise funeral lament seems to have been expressed with a "Thank God he's cracked".

(1639-1715), the least beautiful of the sisters, but endowed with lively intelligence and a certain culture, became deeply friends with Louis XIV, so much so that the King, who in turn greatly admired her, began to make marriage plans . They were both in their early twenties.
The bond between the two did not please his mother, the regent Anna of Austria, nor did Mazarino himself. In fact, it was her uncle Cardinal who removed Maria from her court, making her cut off her friendship with Louis XIV and preventing her from marrying because, as a far-sighted politician, he could not allow the King of France to marry a woman without a state as a dowry.

His diplomatic masterpiece was that, much more fruitful, of determining the borders of France with the treaties of Westphalia (1648) and the Pyrenees (1659) which put an end to the Thirty Years' War. Louis XIV married the Infanta of Spain for this purpose.

When Maria had to interrupt her romance with Louis XIV, she uttered that sentence that revealed a deep regret, a painful surprise, a sense of bewilderment because, despite being Louis a King, he let her go: "Vous m'aimez, vous étes roi, et je pars".
Maria did not understand the reasons of state. She was imposed as husband Prince Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and she always enjoyed, in the Rome of the Popes, the freedom she was accustomed to in France.
Having abandoned her husband, apparently because of his infidelity, Maria fled from Rome but was relegated to various convents by order of him who, being Connestabile of the Kingdom of Naples and Viceroy of Aragon, had allied all the Courts of Europe.

She remained a widow, she led a wandering existence, "ready to give up everything but the luxury of disposing entirely of herself" (Benedetta Craveri in Amanti e Regine). Maria was moved only by pride and recklessness, certainly not by feminine ambition.
Her stubborn, restless and unpredictable character, directed her towards choices that certainly damaged her.

After traveling, and stopping, in various places in Europe, kept away by the Court of France as unwanted, Maria died in Pisa of a stroke, in the cell of a monk to whom she had gone to ask for assistance. And in this city of river and sea, which for her was only a transit, she left her last address.
In fact, she rests in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where a tombstone with the Colonna and Mancini coats of arms is visible on the floor but, by her own will, she lacks her name. At the end of an obstinate wandering (even mental) she had little available, yet she had never separated from the splendid pearl necklace, which belonged to Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I Stuart, which Louis XIV had given her when they were forced to separate, and from the fabulous diamond that Connestabile Colonna slipped on her finger on her wedding day.

After all, she was a woman faithful to her past, even if in constant search of her independence in an era that did not allow certain choices.

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