Awful Ways Marie Antoinette Got the Short End of the Stick

By far, Marie Antoinette was one of the most prominent figures of the French Revolution and also one of its earliest victims. Both in life and death, she was often the scapegoat for France’s then mounting financial issues, a brazen lie that has since been disproved. So in defense of the last Queen of France, here are five times that Marie Antoinette got the short end of the stick.

1. Never Said “Let Them Eat Cake”

When history buffs hear the name “Marie Antoinette” the first thing that often comes to mind is the quote “Let them eat cake!” which was allegedly said by the queen upon learning that her subjects were starving because they had no bread. Truth is, there really isn’t any genuine proof that she ever said this, and it certainly wasn’t in line with her character. Surprisingly enough, the earliest known written source connecting the quote with Marie Antoinette was published over 50 years after the revolution, not to mention that it was written in the form of a rebuttal.

2. She Suffered for Her Husband’s Poor Decision-Making

Both Marie Antoinette and her husband Louis XVI were quite young when they rose to power, at the ages of 14 and 15 years old, respectively. The kingdom was already in massive debt, and Louis’ bad financial decisions only made things worse, such as aiding America in the Independence War. He was also said to fall asleep during meetings, and was notorious for being indecisive regarding important matters. Unfortunately for the queen, many people overlooked the king’s shortcomings and instead placed all the blame on her due to her lavish spending habits.

3. She Had No Real Power as a Consort

Despite being the queen, Marie Antoinette actually held little to zero administrative power. Matter of fact, she wasn’t even part of the day-to-day running of the country. The reason for this is that as a consort, she was not really a queen in her own right but only one through marriage. It also didn’t help that she was a woman and the French were so strongly against being led by women that they banned them from inheriting the throne altogether, even if a king had no sons. And lastly, her being an Austrian foreigner only added to the already jaded citizens’ dislike of her.

4. France’s Problems Had Begun Long Before Her Arrival

As mentioned earlier, when Louis XVI came into power, he inherited a broken and corrupted government from his predecessors. Provincial bodies known as “parlements” had a nasty habit of impeding royal policies including ones regarding fiscal reform. Because of this, France’s farming methods remained the same for centuries, leading to less food and higher prices. And let’s not forget about the noble classes who basically avoided almost all taxation and even opposed any infringement upon their historical privileges. All these and more, are factors that were beyond the future queen’s control.

5. Primary Target of Xenophobia

Back in the 18th century, most Europeans weren’t particularly fond of foreigners and France was no different. Now remember that Marie Antoinette was an Austrian of German lineage, and her marriage to Louis XVI was part of a political alliance between Austria and France as a way to strengthen the bond between the two rival countries. So the French were already on their guard due to her nationality. They also accused her of disloyalty to France, despite her unwavering support of her new homeland and taking on a French name.

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