This is a very well known, infamous quote that was allegedly uttered by the queen of France, Marie Antoinette. What if I told you that this is in fact, not true…
First a bit of back story. The year was 1789, a revolution was brewing. The people of France were starving due to poor crops and the royals weren’t doing much to help them. The king at the time was Louis XVI (the 16th). Supposedly when Marie Antoinette heard that the people didn’t have bread to eat she flippantly stated “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” which translates roughly to “Let them eat cake”. She actually said brioche which is a sweet bread that these days is readily available to all and usually eaten at breakfast time.
According to historians, it would’ve been highly out of place for her to have expressed this sentiment as she was an intelligent and educated woman who often donated to charities and even though she lead a very lavish lifestyle in her Versaille Palace, she was sensitive to the needs of the french people. Not only this but the quote “let them eat cake” had been around for awhile before that fated year. It was first heard during the reign of Louis XIV (the 14th) by his wife Marie-Thérèse, the Spanish princess who married the king in 1660. Her words were slightly different but expressed a similar meaning. She allegedly suggested the french people eat “la croûte de pâté” which translates to “the crust of the pie”.
Many 18th-century royals were also blamed for the remark, including two aunts of Louis XVI. Due to this it seemed that the discontented lower classes used these accusations to incite anger towards the royals who were oppressing them and stir unrest which eventually led to the revolution of France.
Speaking of cake… I might pop off and grab a bite!
If you would like to hear more fun and fascinating stories during this period of french history then why not sign up for one of our Versaille Palace tours!
Written by Amber Peterson