The Who2 Blog

It’s Marie Antoinette’s Birthday: Let Us Eat Cake

Marie Antoinette — fashion plate, Queen of France, future star of a Sofia Coppola movie — was born on this day in 1755.

The clock was ticking as soon as she was born, alas: she was beheaded 13,853 days later in Paris, a victim of the French Revolution.  She was only 37.

The two legends you’ve probably heard about Marie Antionette are both wrong, wrong, wrong.

Legend the First: When told the peasants had no bread, she didn’t say “Let them eat cake.” It’s a great story, but the phrase was used by Rousseau in his Confessions when Marie was 10 years old, and it’s unlikely he got it from her.  It’s more likely that revolutionaries used the story as propaganda against her. (Mission accomplished!)

Legend the Second: The classic Champagne glass, or coupe, was not modeled on Marie Antoinette’s bosoms. The same story has been told of other famous women, but it seems to be false on all accounts.  Marie Antoinette did enjoy Champagne, but the glasses were invented long before she was born.

It’s true that Marie did drink from anatomically-correct milk bowls at Versailles… but they probably weren’t modeled on her bosoms, either. They were part of a glamorous dairy at the estate, where Marie and her ladies would divert themselves in a back-to-nature way by drinking healthful milk and playing at being dairy maids. It was a fad of the day.

If they’d had Greek yogurt in those days, they would have eaten that, too.  “The peasants have no Chobani?  Let them eat Yoplait!”

See our biography of Marie Antoinette »


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