Sunday, July 15, 2018

Bastille Day and the French Revolution Were Not Caused by Marie Antoinette

From The New American:
July 14 marks another anniversary of Bastille Day, the day the Paris mob rioted and stormed the Bastille, a prison fortress in the city. The popular image of the incident is that of the French Revolution itself, which is that the liberty-loving French folk in Paris spontaneously rose up against a tyrannical king and his arrogant wife, and heroically stormed the symbol of the Old Regime — liberating hundreds of political prisoners. This led to an abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a government dedicated to liberty for all the people of France.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Almost everyone has heard that Queen Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake,” in haughty response to the plea of the poor starving masses of France: “We have no bread.”

That is also untrue.

And it is widely believed that Antoinette caused or at least was the principal cause — of the entire French Revolution.

That is ridiculous.

Whereas Louis XVI and his wife, Marie, are usually pictured in the history books and in the popular culture as tyrants of the worst sort, the truth is quite different. The real Marie Antoinette was a charitable woman, who lodged and fed 12 poor families, at her own expense, at Trianon. She founded the Society of Ladies of Maternal Charity. She even once stopped her carriage for over an hour to aid an injured person, waiting until a surgeon was located.

Historian Antonia Fraser disputed the cruel libel in her book Marie Antoinette, the Journey. “As a handy journalistic cliché, [“Let them eat cake”] it may never die,” Fraser wrote, adding “such ignorant behavior would have been quite out of character. The unfashionably philanthropic Marie Antoinette would have been far more likely to bestow her own cake impulsively upon the starving people before her.”

If the Revolution was not caused by Marie Antoinette, then just who did cause it? (Read more.)

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