Marie Antoinette, France’s last queen, was born in Vienna on November 2, 1755. She was beheaded on October 16, 1793, by order of the Revolutionary tribunal. In between, her lavish lifestyle seriously pissed people off, leading to the French Revolution and to the overthrow of the monarchy in August 1792. She married at age fourteen, in 1770, to Louis-Auguste. She was homesick and wrote home often to her mother about it. She became queen of France at 19, when Louis XV died and Louis XVI ascended to the throne. She was a high fashion partier, and indulged in gambling and a decadent lifestyle. She and Louis XVI did not consummate the marriage for several years; she gave birth to Marie Therese Charlotte in 1778 and by 1780, she spent most of her time at her own private castle within the Palace of Versailles, and was reportedly involved in an affair with a Swedish diplomat. This is around when things started to take a turn for the worse. She earned the nickname “Madame Deficit” due to her extravagant spending, and public opinion slid rapidly. She was blamed for the theft of a 647-diamond necklace by an imposter and criticized further.
On July 14, 1789, the French Revolution began with the storming of the Bastille prison, and on October 6, 10,000 people went to Versailles and demanded the King and Queen be brought to Paris, where Marie Antoinette took over Louis XVI’s diplomatic and political duties. The royal family attempted an escape from France in 1791 unsuccessfully, and in 1792, Maximilien de Robespierre demanded the king be removed, and the National Convention abolished the monarchy and arrested Louis and Marie Antoinette. They were both tried and convicted of treason, and Marie Antoinette was additionally charged with theft, and falsely accused of sexual abuse of her son. An all-male jury found her guilty of all charges. On the night before her execution, she wrote,
“I am calm as people are whose conscience is clear.” At her execution, she announced, “the moment when my ills are going to end is not the moment when courage is going to fail me.”
So what about that cake? There’s a lot of speculation that she never actually said this, but she is popularly remembered for callously responding “let them eat cake” upon hearing her people had no bread to eat.
Let’s assume, though, with her reputation for extravagance, that cake was one of her favorite things (as it is mine).
Cake for dinner with Marie Antoinette: