ROSA SHOCKING ECONOMY & SOCIETY

Women, power, culture, economy. The F. Datini Foundation is proposing a challenge to increase female participation in one of Italy's most important research centres. It is inspired by Margherita Bandini, Francesco Datini's wife, a forward-thinking woman who was able to overcome gender barriers and assert her right to be dissatisfied.



Tu non hai "niuno che sapi più di me in bene e che ghuardi melglo l'onore tuo che farò io"
(You don't have "anyone that looks out for your interests and honour more than I will")
(letter from Margherita to Francesco Datini, Prato-Florence, March 31, 1387: Prato State Archives, Datini 1401717)

Nel 1376, Margherita, figlia del magnate fiorentino Domenico Bandini e di Dianora Gherardini, andò in sposa a Francesco giovanissima. "Io credo che Dio ordinò quand'io naqui ch'io dovese avere mogle che fose fiorentina" commentava il mercante alla sua tutrice, monna Piera di Pratese (altra donna fondamentale nella sua vita).
I due si erano conosciuti ad Avignone, dove Francesco ormai si era arricchito e dove Margherita, con la madre e le sorelle si era rifugiata dopo l'esecuzione del padre, colpevole di un complotto antirepubblicano. Rientrata a Prato col marito gli inizi del 1383, Margherita assunse rapidamente ruoli e responsabilità gravose nella gestione degli affari di famiglia.
Nel 1395 Margherita accoglieva in casa Ginevra, la figlia naturale di Francesco; da quel momento avrebbe riversato su di lei tutte le tenerezze di una maternità mancata.
Le lettere scambiate col marito evidenziano il ruolo manageriale di Margherita e la stretta collaborazione fra i due coniugi.
In breve tempo, il contributo di Margherita si sviluppò per dimensione e qualità; iniziato attraverso una condivisione della cultura della responsabilità commerciale, crebbe anche grazie a un processo di autoapprendimento che coinvolse prima di tutto la capacità di leggere e scrivere (quando aveva sposato Francesco, Margherita era analfabeta, come molte donne del tempo), evidenziando anche il graduale apprendimento delle tecniche contabili.
A partire dal 1390, si fece carico di mansioni più chiaramente legate alle attività imprenditoriali del marito, dimostrando una rara acutezza di giudizio nel valutare persone e avvenimenti; ciò che più di ogni altra cosa il mercante di Prato apprezzava della sua amata consorte fu la instancabile vocazione nel coltivare le relazioni con gli ambienti economici, politici e culturali di Prato e di Firenze, fondamentali per una immagine di lealtà e correttezza indispensabile anche nel mondo degli affari.
Non stupisce, dunque, che Margherita affermasse più volte di essere il suo più leale collaboratore.
Francesco, inserendola fra gli esecutori testamentari, si riferì alla "grande fidanza" che egli nutriva per sua moglie; in quel modo, offrì un riconoscimento pubblico delle capacità che Margherita aveva dimostrato.

(In 1376, Margherita, daughter of the wealthy Florentine Domenico Bandini and Dianora Gherardini, became Francesco's very young wife. "I believe that, when I was born, God decreed that I should have a Florentine wife," the merchant remarked to his tutor, Monna Piera di Pretese (another central woman in his life).
The two had met at Avignon, where Francesco had become rich and where Margherita, with her mother and sisters, had taken refuge after the execution of her father, guilty of an anti-republican plot.
Returning to Prato with her husband in early 1383, Margherita quickly assumed the heavy responsibilities of managing the family's business.
In 1395 Margherita welcomed Francesco's illegitimate daughter Ginevra into their home; from then on, she gave her all the love she would have lavished on her own child, had she been able to conceive.
The letters she exchanged with her husband highlight Margherita's managerial role and the close collaboration between the two spouses.
In a short time, Margherita's contribution grew in both scope and quality; it started by sharing the culture of commercial responsibility and also grew through a self-learning process that involved, first of all, the ability to read and write (when she married Francesco, Margherita was illiterate, like many women of the time) and gradually included accounting skills as well.
Beginning in 1390, she took charge of tasks more clearly linked to her husband's business, showing a rare acuteness of judgment in assessing people and events; what the merchant of Prato appreciated more than anything else in his beloved spouse was her tireless dedication to cultivating relations with the economic, political and cultural leaders of Prato and Florence, which were fundamental for creating a reputation of loyalty and integrity that was also essential in the world of business.
No wonder, then, that Margherita repeatedly claimed to be his most loyal collaborator.
As he included her among the executors of his will, Francesco referred to the "great trust" he had in his wife; in that way, he publicly recognized the abilities that Margherita had shown.)


Among the major changes that our society needs, one of the most important is the growing role that women are being called upon to play, not only within the family, but as active and responsible members of an increasingly complex world. In reality, even in the past, women have made important contributions to the economy, culture and society of their time; often, however, they have done so without receiving adequate social recognition.
This consideration is the inspiration for the initiative of creating a section, among the members of the Datini Foundation, especially dedicated to women, which will highlight and stimulate their active role in strengthening the cultural role that Tuscany and Italy play in the world.
We believe that there's no GDP without culture and the irreplaceable role of women.
We are convinced that the welfare of our country, our lives and our children also depends on the determination with which we will defend, know and promote the shocking pink side of our civilization.

For this reason, the Datini Foundation considers that your involvement will make an essential and valuable contribution to the success of the Shocking Pink Economy & Society initiative.

We are appealing to those you who have the position, ambition and means to make this membership project your own.


© Fondazione Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica "F. Datini"