Everyone has heard the tale of Marie Antoinette brushing off the famine riots around Paris that signaled the eruption of the French Revolution. “Let them eat cake,” she allegedly said, probably while languishing under the weight of her diamonds. The diamonds part might be true, but the quote is actually taken from Rousseau’s Confessions, which was written several years before the start of the revolution. In his book, a foreign princess said it though, and since Marie Antoinette was a foreign princess who became Queen of France, I guess some of the revolutionaries thought it was close enough.
In that spirit, I’ve compiled a list of ‘probable’ quotes. The wording obviously isn’t historically accurate, but the sentiments or contexts are based in history, and – affectionately – mocked. I loved researching this time period, flaws and all.
Marie Antoinette: Oh, ha ha, more jokes about cake. There is no cake – I never said that. I’ve had Rousseau read to me, I recognize this quote, I know it predates the revolution. People think I don’t know anything, but I actually really enjoy sitting in a rose-petal bath and sipping on hot chocolate infused with orange blossoms while having my maid read to me.
Count von Fersen: No, no, I’m definitely not having an affair with the Queen. Lurking in the corridors near her rooms at night is just my hobby. It’s very restful.
Apathetic advisor: Since the Bastille has been torn down, the people might as well wear pieces of it as jewelry. That makes sense. There is literally no other use for the stone of a demolished building.
King Louis XVI: So what if I wrote ‘nothing’ in my journal on the day the Bastille fell? It’s not a revolutionary journal, it’s a hunting journal, and I didn’t hunt anything that day. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about revolutionary news. I just don’t have a separate journal for it, like I do for hunting.
Fervent revolutionary: What do you mean it’s disrespectful to wear clothes in a colour called Foulon’s blood? I mean, he’s already dead. He lived through three botched hanging attempts before being beheaded, and his dead mouth stuffed with hay. Being the namesake of a special shade of crimson is more than a hastily murdered man can expect, really. He’d appreciate it if he could.
Marie Antoinette: I know the revolution means the only socially acceptable colours for clothes this season are red, white, and blue, but I’m the Queen, so… purple is okay. It’s just red and blue mixed.
Overwhelmed revolutionary: You know, when we angrily stormed Versailles, I kind of forgot we’d still have to walk all the way back to Paris after. Can’t we just….stay here? It seems like there is enough room.
Hungry peasant: No, I will not eat that potato. It’s a heathen plant from a heathen civilization, and it makes wrong, misshapen roots that should only be eaten by witches and pigs. Potatoes are like nightshade and ugly, I will not eat them. I refuse to believe that anyone will willingly eat potatoes, ever.
King Louis XVI: Are the people still mad about inequality? Oh. That’s unfortunate. I kind of had plans to study a new kind of lock and then eat cheese.
Marquis de Lafayette: Of course I didn’t want to open fire on a crowd of bystanders, but these things happen in revolutions. This is my second one. Trust me, I’m a revolution expert. Isn’t that why you made me commander of the National Guard?
Fervent revolutionary: The Tennis Court Oath is not a stupid name. If you had been there, in that special tennis court…then you’d understand. Nope, it’s too late, you’ll never get it and now I’m suspicious of you. I’ll go ahead and put your name forward as a despicable royalist.
Resigned revolutionary: Sorry I’m late for lunch, I got held up at the Place du Carrousel because they were moving the guillotine. That thing can really block a street.
Maximilien Robespierre: Becoming such a powerful person is certainly not going to backfire in these volatile times. Why, the mere suggestion has raised my suspicion of you. Of course I have extensively studied Rousseau, and many other philosophies. NO he did not write that ‘Let them eat cake’ phrase. You know what? You can just go straight to the guillotine now.
Marie Antoinette: I know I’m fleeing Paris in disguise with my family, under great risk, but I cannot pack any lighter than this. Give me the bulky slow carriage.
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