Posts Tagged ‘Marie Antoinette’

Storming of the Bastille

The 14th of July 1789: what really happened on Bastille Day?

First let’s put things in context. In 1789 France had been for decades in the grips of a budget crisis. It was due to the country’s absurd tax structure, and had recently been aggravated by the French support of the American Independence War. King Louis XVI, in order to implement new taxes, had called a […]



Marie Antoinette court dress Vigee Lebrun

Marie-Antoinette: the destiny of a Queen

The Marie-Antoinette exhibition at the Grand Palais was so vast and complex that I wanted to let my impressions settle a bit before consigning them to cyberspace. The part of Marie-Antoinette’s life that was least familiar to me was her childhood in Vienna. In this regard the exhibition does a very good job of evoking […]



Marie Therese 1780 Troy

Let them eat cake?

That is one of the questions I am often asked: did Marie-Antoinette really say Let them eat cake? Actually the full sentence is French is Qu’ils mangent de la brioche! or, literally, Let them eat brioche! I guess cake was more familiar to English speakers than brioche, a form of French bread enriched with eggs […]



Carnival in Paris, Marie-Antoinette and the French Revolution

Today is Mardi-Gras, Fat Tuesday, the last day before Lent. Before the French Revolution it was the occasion for bawdy, sometimes lewd masquerades. Raucous parades filed through the streets of Paris, like the promenade du bœuf gras (“fat ox parade.”) A young boy, called “King of the Butchers” with a gilt crown, sword and scepter, […]