This article presents a case study of the way in which elite women in informal social networks could facilitate political contacts and discourse in a manner that does not accord with existing typologies. Focusing upon exile society in post-Napoleonic Rome, it describes this group of women as political ‘facilitators’. After considering the nature of the society and the network of women at the heart of it, it assesses in particular the activities of two – Teresa, Countess Guiccioli and ex-Queen Hortense of Holland – to explore the gendered dimensions of the socio-political culture in which they moved. Taken together, the activities of the group of women examined here illuminate three themes: that exile society offered a breadth of informal political space; that women with no obvious political goals could be important facilitators of political connections within that space; and that some aristocratic women were autonomous actors, independent of male authority. It suggests that more analysis and exploration would illuminate the roles played by such women.