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Did Marie Antoinette Actually Say, “Let Them Eat Cake”?



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Podcast Transcript

Marie Antoinette was the final queen of France previous to the French Revolution. She and her husband Louis XVI have been executed by guillotine in the course of the Regin of Terror, which quickly adopted. 

Over time, she has been vilified as a girl who was out of contact with the frequent folks and was famously reported to have mentioned that if the French individuals couldn’t eat bread, then “allow them to eat cake.”

However was she actually that unhealthy, and did she actually inform her topics to eat cake?

Study extra about Marie Antoinette and if, in reality, she beneficial cake consuming on this episode of All the pieces In all places Every day.


I don’t assume that Marie Antoinette will be neatly put into the field of both sufferer or villain. There have been issues she did that definitely can’t be justified, however on the time, she was virtually definitely handled unjustly. 

Initially named Maria Antonia, she was born into a lifetime of excessive privilege because the youngest daughter of Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Francis I of Austria in 1755.

She was raised within the Hofburg and Schönbrunn Palaces alongside along with her older sister of three years, Carolina.

She was tutored in the entire topics anticipated of a younger dutchess. Reportedly, she was not excellent at writing and couldn’t converse nicely in Italian or French.

Nonetheless, she excelled at music.  She may play the harp, harpsichord, and flute and was additionally thought-about a wonderful singer and dancer. 

She had a really strained relationship along with her mom, who by no means confirmed her any affection. She at all times claimed that she feared her mom greater than liked her. 

So far as Empress Maria Theresa was involved, her daughters have been there to be married off and used as political pawns with different royal homes in Europe. 

…and that’s precisely what occurred to younger Marie in 1779, when on the age of 14 when she was positioned into an organized marriage with the French dauphin, Louis-Auguste.  FYI, dauphin was simply the French time period for the crown prince or subsequent in line to the French throne. 

Her wedding ceremony wasn’t even an actual wedding ceremony. She was married by proxy. For those who aren’t conversant in a wedding by proxy, it’s when one or each of the events isn’t current for the marriage ceremony. If each events aren’t current, it is named a double proxy wedding ceremony….and simply as one other FYI, proxy marriages are literally nonetheless authorized in some US states, and a double proxy marriage is authorized in Montana. 

4 years later, King Louis XV of France died, and the younger Louis ascended to the French throne as Louis XVI….and the 18-year-old, now recognized in French as Marie Antoinette, turned queen. 

Whereas she was queen, she wasn’t held in very excessive esteem by the royal courtroom as a result of she hadn’t performed the one factor that queens are presupposed to do: produce an inheritor. 

She lastly had a daughter, Marie-Thérèse, after eight years of marriage. They then proceeded to have three extra kids, together with two boys. 

At first, Marie was standard with the frequent individuals. She managed to sway the French individuals along with her first public look in Paris in 1773. 

Nonetheless, she wasn’t almost as standard with the courtroom and the French elite. The truth that she was Austrian rubbed many individuals the unsuitable manner. She additionally turned the sufferer of rumors and petty jealousies with a number of girls at courtroom. 

Finally, her recognition amongst the French individuals waned. Whereas France was in the course of an financial disaster, she continued to spend lavishly on clothes, events, and playing though the frequent individuals have been struggling. 

In 1775, riots broke out across the nation in an occasion often known as the Flour Warfare over the sharp rise in wheat, flour, and bread costs. Folks started to place the blame for the issues of France on her personally. France couldn’t pay its money owed due to her extravagant spending. 

She was perceived to assist Austria over France. 

To be honest, her spending was uncontrolled, and her mom commented on it in personal letters despatched to her.

Over time she turned extra concerned in politics. She was finally implicated in a scandal often known as the Affair of the Diamond Necklace. She was accused of defrauding the royal jewelers for a diamond necklace she commissioned. 

It was one more factor that led to the disillusionment of the French individuals with the monarchy. 

I’m actually leaping forward and leaving loads out right here, however in 1791 she and her husband have been arrested, and the monarchy was abolished in 1792.  On January 15, 1793, the King was executed by guillotine. 

In October of that yr, Marie was placed on trial. Many of the issues that she was charged with have been quite outrageous, and it was largely a present trial with the end result predetermined earlier than it started. She was given solely a day to place collectively a protection. 

She was accused of a number of crimes, together with quite ridiculous ones corresponding to partaking in incest along with her son. 

Unsurprisingly, she was discovered responsible of depleting the nationwide treasury by giving cash to Austria, conspiracy in opposition to the state’s safety, and excessive treason. 

She was sentenced to demise. 

On October 16, 1793, she was beheaded in a public execution, carrying a plain white costume along with her hair shorn.

Marie Antoinette is an interesting character and possibly price a extra full therapy sooner or later sooner or later. 

On this episode, I need to deal with the well-known phrases attributed to her: “Allow them to eat cake.”

Supposedly in 1789, throughout a famine that ravaged France, she was informed that the poor couldn’t afford to eat bread. In response, she mentioned, “then allow them to eat cake.” 

It’s a story that demonstrates simply how out of contact she supposedly was. 

However is it true? Did she really say that?

The brief reply is…..no. There is no such thing as a proof that she ever mentioned it or something like that. 

To make certain, the rationale why she is attributed to having mentioned it’s as a result of it looks as if one thing she would say.

Nonetheless, there was nothing throughout the whole lifetime of Marie Antoinette the place she was even accused of getting mentioned this. 

The primary recorded case of her being attributed with having mentioned this was by the novelist Alphonse Karr in 1843, virtually 50 years after she was executed.

So, if she didn’t say it, who did? 

The earliest model of “allow them to eat cake” really comes from the Seventh century Jin Dynasty in China.  Supposedly the Emperor Hui was informed that there was no rice for the peasants to eat. In response, he mentioned, “Why don’t they eat porridge with (floor) meat?” 

This whole lack of empathy and understanding confirmed him unfit to be emperor. 

It’s extremely unlikely {that a} assertion by a Seventh-century Chinese language emperor made its option to 18th-century France. 

The origin of the quote virtually definitely comes from an 18th-century e book by the French thinker Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In 1782, he revealed his e book Confessions. In it, there’s a passage that’s strikingly related to what’s attributed to Marie Antoinette.

He wrote a few time when he felt he was too nicely dressed to enter an strange neighborhood bakery. He wrote, “Lastly I recalled the stopgap resolution of an incredible princess who was informed that the peasants had no bread, and who responded: “Allow them to eat brioche.”

There are a number of issues about this quote that must be unpacked. The primary of which is that whereas this was revealed in 1782, it was written in 1765, when ??Marie was solely 9 years previous and hadn’t even been to France or met her future husband. 

So the “nice princess” he was referring to couldn’t have been Marie Antoinette. 

Furthermore, the famine in 1789, which sparked her making the assertion, by no means occurred. The closest factor would have been the riots in the course of the Flour Warfare, which was extra about rising costs than mass hunger. 

Second, he referred to brioche, not cake. This may sound like a minor level, but it surely does add some subtlety to the quote. Cake is nothing like bread. Whereas they’re each fabricated from wheat and flour, they’re very various things.

Brioche is similar to bread. It’s made just about the identical manner bread is, besides it incorporates extra eggs and butter. This makes it a lot richer and flakier than common bread.

The distinction between bread and brioche is way smaller than the distinction between bread and cake. If something, it could make whoever initially mentioned it much more indifferent from common individuals. 

That being mentioned, if Marie Antoinette didn’t say it, who did? Who was the “nice princess” that Rousseau was referring to?

One chance was Maria Theresa of Spain, who was the Queen of France about 100 years earlier than Marie Antoinette. 

Different prospects embrace Louix XV’s daughters, who may very well be Princess Sophie or Princess Victoire.

There may be one other chance as nicely. There was no “nice princess.” It was one thing Rousseau made up simply to decorate his story. 

No matter who really mentioned it, it’s one thing that’s in all probability going to be caught to Marie Antoinette for the remainder of time  Was she the best queen? No. Was she unjustly executed? I’d say sure. 

No matter Marie Antoinette, although, you will be sure she by no means informed her topics to eat cake. 



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