“Let them eat cake.” A famous response given by Queen Marie Antoinette when she was asked about the grain shortages in her country. But, did she really say this? Many people see Marie Antoinette as a leading cause of the French revolution, with her enormous spending, affairs, disapproval of reform, and influence on her husband, King Louis XVI. But did Marie Antoinette play a decisive role in causing the French Revolution? Or were the peoples judgements the cause of the uprising? This essay will provide both sides of this argument, stating findings and facts about Marie Antoinette’s influence on the people of France, and what feelings she provoked in them with her actions, and if there was any connection between her behavior and beginning of the French Revolution.
To find out Marie Antoinette’s influence on the French Revolution, we first need to list some of the speculated causes of the uprising of the French people. Many believed that the financial trouble of France had a big part in causing the French Revolution. France had spent many years fighting foreign wars, and helping in the American Revolution, which left the country near bankruptcy. Despite the knowledge of these wars, many believed Marie Antoinette had caused the bankruptcy with her generous amount of spending. In 1788-89, there were many food shortages because of crop failure (Schwartz). According to Britannica, the crop failures in 1788 lead to economic difficulties, and left the population tumultuous. Rumors spread that Marie Antoinette was hoarding grain in the palace (Muller). The quote “Let them eat cake” was created during the crop failures to represent the Queen’s reply to the crop failures. The royal couple recognized the dislike the people had for them and hid Versailles, while an economic crisis was swept throughout France (Phillips).
Financial troubles were not the only speculated cause of the French revolution. Many historians agree that the hardships between the bourgeoisie and the nobility caused the uprising of the population. Thanks to the 18th century’s economic growth, France had a large group of wealthy commoners - the bourgeoisie - that felt bitter about their exclusion from political power and positions of honor. The bourgeoisie were the middle class professionals, manufacturers and shop owners, that had gained wealth over the years. With the help of the philosophes - books that advocated social and political reform - they were eager to oppose the monarchy (“French Revolution.”). The threat of the commoners had been known to the aristocrats, but both King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette refused to become a constitutional monarchy (Roberts). Because the French regime was to change unwillingly, the French people united to overthrow their current government, and destroy the monarchy.
Marie Antoinette was born on November 2nd, 1755, in Austria. As a young noble girl, her studies were focused around religion and moral principles. The more academic subjects...