Explore The Facts And Fiction Of Marie Antoinette's Life

Marie Antoinette is an important historical figure often shown in books and movies. Learn about the true stories and false beliefs about her life.

Marie Antoinette, an archduchess of Austria and queen consort of France, holds a significant place in history, often depicted in literature and film. 

When the French Revolution erupted and the monarchy fell in 1792, she was imprisoned in the Temple Tower while her husband, Louis XVI, was deposed and executed. 

Nine months after his death, she faced the guillotine for treason and was executed on 16 October 1793, according to  Britannica

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Her intriguing life and character have sparked numerous theories and speculations, particularly in movies. 

Here are the five most renowned myths surrounding Marie Antoinette:

Her Blonde Hair

Marie Antoinette, often depicted with blonde hair in movies, was actually a redhead, according to Grunge

This led Madame du Barry, King Louis XV’s mistress, to call her “la petite rousse,” meaning “little redhead” in translation.

The Famous “Let Them Eat Cake” 

Marie Antoinette is often credited with saying the famous phrase, “Let them eat cake.” 

Legend has it that upon learning that the people had no bread to eat at the start of the French Revolution in 1789, the queen remarked, “qu’ils mangent de la brioche,” (Let them eat cake) referring to a type of French bread.

However, there is no evidence to support the claim that Marie Antoinette actually made this statement, as reported by Biography

Historians generally believe that such a callous remark would have been out of character for the French queen. 

Despite her extravagant lifestyle, Marie Antoinette was known for her charitable donations and compassion towards the common people of France.

The origins of the quote can be traced back several decades to a version involving “la croûte de pâté,” another type of French pastry. 

The comment was supposedly made by Marie-Thérèse, a Spanish princess who married King Louis XIV in 1660.

Marie Antoinette was known for her great generosity towards her subjects, providing financial and material assistance to the underprivileged.

Responsible For France’s Bankruptcy

Marie Antoinette, often dubbed “Madame Deficit,” was not solely responsible for France’s bankruptcy, contrary to popular belief about her extravagant spending and love for fashion. 

According to Grunge, the country was already experiencing financial difficulties before her marriage to Louis XVI. 

While the nation’s financial situation deteriorated during her husband’s reign, it was primarily due to Louis XVI’s financial support for the American Revolution.

Is She Promiscuous?

She was considered as promiscuous in certain portrayals. Marie Antoinette, in fact, maintained her virginity for the first seven years of her marriage, according to the same source. 

The marriage occurred on May 16, 1770, but it was not consummated until August 22, 1777.

Additionally, contrary to some accounts, the Queen did not have multiple lovers of both genders.

Banner photo via Wikimedia Commons.

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