History lessons | The faces of power

MARIA GIUSEPPINA MUZZARELLI. Caterina da Siena, the power of a mother-not-a-mother

Food is denied to the point of exhaustion so as not to suffer the will of others. She talks to the powerful people, even to the Pope, when the female prerogative was silence. She travels around the world when her sisters remain confined. She commands, she suggests, motivates, often remaining in the second line, at times almost annulling himself. A woman who perfectly combines the ability to be both inside and outside the schemes of the society of her time.

Maria Giuseppina Muzzarelli teaches Medieval History and History of Cities at the University of Bologna.


Power is ambivalent. He has associated or divided men, married with justice or manifested himself in the most brutal way. In the most diverse forms it has crossed history, incarnating itself in a small number of people who have become symbols destined to be projected over the centuries. In the past, as today, power is not personified only in the actions of shrewd simulators, draggers of crowds, ferocious dictators: its faces and the tools to exercise it are many. Four great historians tell us what has happened over the centuries.

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