What were the contemporary reactions to Marie and Hortense?
It’s hard to find much concrete evidence of expressions of envy or admiration, although they did have some prominent advocates who fought on their behalf. There is a lot of press coverage that tends towards gossipy and scandalous. There is a lot of observation of their movements and speculation about where they would travel, and people following them with excitement.
There are also some more intellectual debates about the whole question of divorce, and under what circumstance does a woman have a right to split from her husband and retain her dowry. Then we have letters where people are writing about them; in one case, there are letters between a man and woman and the man is much more sympathetic to Hortense. So reactions don’t always divide along gender lines.
Did Marie and Hortense Mancini view themselves as revolutionary?
I don’t think they saw what they were doing as contributing to a political or ideological movement. But they were definitely iconoclastic and opposed a number of injustices that women of their time had to face. In their memoirs and in their lives, they are advocating for other women and for themselves.