This lecture brings to the foreground a new form of female social behaviour dominant in the world of French letters and politics during the 17th and 18th centuries. Studying the prevalence of women of the aristocracy and the urban class in French society, Professor Benedetta Craveri examines their influence upon language, art, literature, psychological and moral thought, and religious belief. The salons were frequented by figures of French classicism: La Rochefoucauld, Racine, La Bruyère. They were succeeded in the 18th century by other significant personalities of Parisian life: Madame de Lambert, Ninon de Lenclos, Madame de Tencin, Julie de Lespinasse, Madame du Deffand, the Duchess du Maine, Madame Geoffroy, Madame Necker were to encourage their select guests, Montesquieu, Voltaire, the Encyclopaedists in their work. Despite the repercussions of the French Revolution, this phenomenon represented not only one expression of French culture but a chapter in the history of the Feminist movement.