Weird History
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Marie Antoinette Was A Much Different Woman Than History Remembers

Updated August 1, 2019 39.6k views13 items

One wouldn't immediately make comparisons between Hillary Clinton and the infamous Marie Antoinette, but a deeper search into the doomed French queen's history brings to light scandals, rumors, and a lengthy (and mostly undeserved) public hatred that practically mirrors Clinton's tumultuous political career.

Both Marie Antoinette and Hillary Clinton were women hated for things that were either blown out of proportion or weren't even true. Both women were blasphemed by the public and put on trial, so to speak, for their alleged slights against their 'people.' Comparing the two can illuminate the fact that the way female public figures were treated over two hundred years ago and today isn't all that different.

  • Photo: Vigée-Lebrun / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Marie Antoinette Never Said Her Most Infamous Line: 'Let Them Eat Cake'

    The story goes: a greedy, selfish French queen named Marie Antoinette stood on her balcony, staring down at the poor, suffering people...when they demanded bread, she scoffed at them and said, "let them eat cake."

    This is perhaps the most well known tale associated with Marie Antoinette, the wife of Louis XVI and Queen of France in the 18th century. However, it is entirely false. The biggest piece of evidence? The "let them eat cake" line had been around, in print, since Marie herself was only ten years old, and the concept dates back as far as 1660 when a similar phrase was attributed to Louis XIV's queen, Marie Therese.

  • Photo: WikiMedia

    She Was Actually Generous And Sympathetic Toward The Lower Classes Of France

    Another reason Marie Antoinette never said 'let them eat cake' is because it would actually have been highly out of character for her. Despite the longstanding reputation she has for being a grandiose, spoiled girl, Marie Antoinette was actually "an intelligent woman who donated generously to charitable causes and, despite her own undeniably lavish lifestyle, displayed sensitivity towards the poor population of France." Her bedchamber maid described her as "so happy at doing good and hated to miss any opportunity of doing so."

    So, although she may have been a bit insensitive by dressing as a milkmaid and tending to "heavily perfumed goats," at least she genuinely did care about her people — the same could not be said for the reverse. 

  • Photo: WikiMedia

    People Fabricated Horrific Lies About Her, Including Incest

    One of the worst rumors circulated about Marie Antoinette was not only that she was an adulteress, but that she had an abusive affair with her own son, all because she tended to him while he was sick.

    The courts were desperate to paint Marie Antoinette as the worst possible human being by the time she was put on trial before her execution, and even the slight possibility of child abuse would do it. It was known that she had allowed her son, Louis Charles, to sleep in her bed when he was sick. The people turned this around and claimed child abuse and incest, charges that only added to the enormous pile France had spent years building. 

    Louis Charles, who had been imprisoned separately from his mother, was actually convinced to testify against her — although the conditions that led up to his 'confession' are still unknown, and it could be deduced that he was not acting of his own volition and had undergone nothing short of brainwashing at the hands of his gaolers. 

  • Photo: WikiMedia

    Since Her Husband Had No Mistress, Marie Antoinette Took The Place Of Court Scapegoat

    In the court of a monarch, everyone has their place, and usually the mistress of the king occupies one of these coveted slots. Along with all the money and power that a mistress normaly enjoys, one of the balancing downsides is that she would inevitably become the bullseye for the population at large to aim their greivances at. However, King Louis XVI reportedly never took a mistress — and his faithfulness toward his wife actually spelled disaster for her. 

    Without the controversial figure of a mistress to lay any and all blame on, everything fell on the young queen — Marie Antoinette was undoubtedly a scapegoat for all that was wrong with the French Court and all its lavishness.