YOU CAN EAT CAKE!

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  1. Did Marie-Antoinette really say “Let them eat cake”?
  2. Did Marie-Antoinette really say “Let them eat cake”? - HISTORY
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The phrase, in as much as it can be shown to be associated with the French nobility, can be interpreted in other ways, for example, it could have either ironic or even a genuine attempt to offer cake to the poor as an alternative to the bread that they couldn't afford.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau's volume autobiographical work Confessions , was written in In Book 6 , which was written around , he recalls:. At length I recollected the thoughtless saying of a great princess, who, on being informed that the country people had no bread, replied, "Then let them eat pastry!

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Marie-Antoinette arrived at Versailles from her native Austria in , two or three years after Rousseau had written the above passage. Her reputation as an indulgent socialite is difficult to shake, but it appears to be unwarranted and is a reminder that history is written by the victors. She was known to have said "It is quite certain that in seeing the people who treat us so well despite their own misfortune, we are more obliged than ever to work hard for their happiness". Nevertheless, the French revolutionaries thought even less of her than we do today and she was guillotined to death in for the crime of treason.

Did Marie-Antoinette really say “Let them eat cake”?

Home Search Phrase Dictionary Let them eat cake. However, there is no evidence that Queen Marie Antoinette ever uttered this phrase. For example, the Queen's English-language biographer wrote in It was a callous and ignorant statement and she, Marie Antoinette, was neither. The attribution also has little credibility.

He does not mention Marie Antoinette in his account, but states that the saying was an old legend, and that within the family it was always believed that the saying belonged to the Spanish princess who married Louis XIV in the s. Thus, Louis XVIII is as likely as others to have had his recollection affected by the quick spreading and distorting of Rousseau's original remark.


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Fraser points out in her biography that Marie Antoinette was a generous patron of charity and moved by the plight of the poor when it was brought to her attention, thus making the statement out-of-character for her. A second point is that there were no actual famines during the reign of King Louis XVI and only two incidents of serious bread shortages, which occurred, first, in April—May , a few weeks before the king's coronation 11 June , and again in , the year before the French Revolution.

Did Marie-Antoinette really say “Let them eat cake”? - HISTORY

The shortages led to a series of riots, known as the Flour War , la guerre des farines , a name given at the time of their occurrence, that took place in the northern, eastern and western parts of France. Letters from Marie Antoinette to her family in Austria at this time reveal an attitude totally different to the Let them eat cake mentality. It is quite certain that in seeing the people who treat us so well despite their own misfortune, we are more obliged than ever to work hard for their happiness.


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The King seems to understand this truth. There is a further problem with the dates surrounding the attribution, in that Marie Antoinette was not only too young but also outside France when it was written.

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Although only published in , Rousseau's Confessions were finished in Marie Antoinette, aged 14, didn't arrive at Versailles from Austria until She was unknown to him at the time of writing his work so she could not have been the "great princess" mentioned by Rousseau. When investigating how this phrase came to be attributed to Marie Antoinette, it is important to understand the increasing unpopularity of the Queen in the final years before the outbreak of the French Revolution.


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During her marriage to Louis XVI, her perceived frivolousness and her very real extravagance were often cited as factors that only worsened France's dire financial straits. Therefore, with such strong sentiments of dissatisfaction and anger towards the King and Queen, it is quite possible that a discontented individual fabricated the scenario and put the words into the mouth of Marie Antoinette.

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Another hypothesis is that after the revolution, the phrase was attributed to various princesses of the French royal family, and that the legend stuck on Marie Antoinette because she was, in effect, the last "great princess" of Versailles. The myth had, for example, been previously attributed to two of Louis XV 's daughters: Madame Sophie and Madame Victoire.

The Book of Jin , a 7th-century chronicle of the Chinese Jin Dynasty , reports that when Emperor Hui — of Western Jin was told that his people were starving because there was no rice, he said, "Why don't they eat ground meat? From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the phrase. For other uses, see Let them eat cake disambiguation.