DID MARIE ANTOINETTE REALLY SAY “LET THEM EAT CAKE”?
If she did utter these words, she was being terribly unoriginal. Although its true provenance is uncertain, this attack on privilege existed long before the revolution, and was only attached to the Queen 50 years after her execution. According to historian Nancy Barker, it was “an old chestnut” in criticism of Bourbon ladies, including Louis XV’s daughters. Philosopher Rousseau wrote a very similar anecdote about a “great princess” – ﬁve years before Marie Antoinette arrived in France. While it was reported that a cruel politician snarled “let them eat hay”, there is no contemporary evidence that revolutionaries levelled this familiar accusation against Marie Antoinette – the earliest known source for this enduring myth is a French journal of 1843.