Sunday, August 12, 2012
Marie Antoinette is reported to have said 'Qu'ils mangent de la brioche'.
When French bakers ran out of bread, they were obliged to sell brioche to the needy at the same price as bread. So that when Marie Antoinette was allegedly told that the peasants had no bread, she merely indicated that they should be able to eat brioche... translated as 'cake'. This would indicate she failed to understand (or had not been told) that there was no flour for making that either. The phrase, meaning 'Let them eat cake', has been misinterpreted over the years, giving the impression that Marie-Antoinette was cruel and uncaring for the common people.
Although it is traditionally attributed to Queen Marie Antoinette of France from 1789, it is now doubted that she actually said it, as it is also attributed to the earlier Queen, Marie-Thérèse - about 100 years earlier in a different crisis. And it appears that what she actually said was "let them eat pastry". In 1766, Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote that he was quoting the famous saying of "a great princess", which was incorrectly attributed to Marie Antoinette. She couldn't have made the statement because, in 1766, she was only 11 years old.