The Diary of Queen Maria Carolina of Naples, 1781-1785 by Cinzia Recca Book Review

This work offers a new portrayal of Queen Maria Carolina of Naples as a woman of power with weaknesses and ambitions, and analyzes the Queen’s actions, from her political choices to her alliance and betrayals. A careful examination of the period (1781-1785) covered by the diary shows that the daily life of the Queen and offers key evidence of her political acumen and her personal relationships. Recca cross-analyses unpublished personal documents, which include the integral diary and private correspondence. The book focuses on the political influence that Queen Maria Carolina wielded beside her husband, King Ferdinand IV, and the criticism that has been made by contemporary historians and intellectuals who have often tended to discredit the sovereign for personal rather than political reasons.

Queen Maria Carolina of Naples was born Maria Carolina of Austria as the daughter of the formidable Empress Maria Theresa and Francis of Lorraine. She was close in age to her sister Marie Antonia, later known as Marie Antoinette, Queen of France. Some of Maria Carolina’s diaries from the years 1781-1785 survived the Second World War. It originally also consisted of the years 1785-1811, but those were destroyed during a fire set by the Germans.

Maria Carolina was a leading figure in the running of the Kingdom. Her husband was often out hunting, which her diary entries mention. During the years 1781-1785 saw her give birth to four children and she also lost three children. Many women knew that losing children was to be expected, but the entries in the diary about the death of little Joseph (Giuseppe) are absolutely heartbreaking.

The diary also contains lots of code. Maria Carolina was at the heart of government, but most of those notes are coded messages as to who she spoke to and what she did. It’s quite frustrating but fascinating at the same time. But most of all, the diaries show a dedicated mother. Nearly every single diary entry records the health of her children.

Accompanying the diary entries are several chapters about Maria Carolina herself, her role in the government and an analysation of the diaries. The research is very well done and quite readable, even if you’re not an academic.

The Diary of Queen Maria Carolina of Naples, 1781-1785 by Cinzia Recca is available now in both the US and the UK.

About Moniek Bloks 2251 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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