Marie Antoinette

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Life's greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved.
Victor Hugo
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It is quite certain that in seeing the people who treat us so well despite their own misfortune, we are more obliged than ever to work hard for their happiness.

Marie Antoinette (1755-11-021793-10-16) was Queen of France and Archduchess of Austria. She was the daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and his wife Maria Theresa of Austria, the wife of Louis XVI, and the mother of Louis XVII. She was guillotined at the height of the French Revolution, and is interred with her husband in the the Cathedral of Saint Denis near Paris, with most of the royalty of France. She was born Archduchess Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna of the Habsburg dynasty.


These are presented chronologically, as nearly as can be determined by context, with sources of attribution indicated where available.

  • It is quite certain that in seeing the people who treat us so well despite their own misfortune, we are more obliged than ever to work hard for their happiness. The king seems to understand this truth; as for myself, I know that in my whole life (even if I live for a hundred years) I shall never forget the day of the coronation.
    • After learning of the bread shortages that were occurring in Paris at the time of Louis XVI's coronation in Rheims, tradition persists that Marie Antoinette joked "If they have no bread, then let them eat cake!" — or simply Qu'ils mangent de la brioche "Let them eat cake." However this phrase occurs in a passage of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Confessions written in 1766, when Marie Antoinette was 10 years old, and still 4 years away from her marriage to Louis XVI of France. It occurs in an account of events that happened before she was born and implies the phrase had been long known before that time. Rousseau mentions that in 1740: I recollected the thoughtless saying of a great princess, who, on being informed that the country people had no bread, replied, "Then let them eat pastry!" He makes no identification of this princess, whom some believe may have been an earlier French queen, Maria Theresa of Spain. Further information on this matter can be found at The Straight Dope, "On Language" by William Safire at The New York Times, and in the discussions at Google groups.
  • I put on my rouge and wash my hands in front of the whole world!
    • Expressing her irritation at her very public life as royalty. She gave birth to her first child in her bedchamber before an audience of hundreds of courtiers.
  • A son would have belonged to the state, but you shall be mine, and have all my care; you shall share my happiness and soften my sorrows.
  • Mon chou d'amour is charming, and I love him madly. He loves me very much too, in his own way, without embarrassment.
  • Not only have I never commissioned you to make a jewel... but, what is more, I have told you repeatedly that I would never add so much as another carat to my present collection of diamonds. I refused to buy your necklace for myself; the king offered to buy it for me, and I refused it as a gift. Never mention it again.
  • I'm fine, don't worry.
    • Short note to the Austrian ambassador to France, after the march on Versailles
  • The Church. The Church... we're next.
  • If I have not replied it is because Nature itself refuses to respond to such a charge laid against a mother.
    • When pressed to answer accusations that she had sexual relations with her young son.
  • There is nothing new except what has been forgotten.
  • I have seen all, I have heard all, I have forgotten all.
  • I was a queen, and you took away my crown; a wife, and you killed my husband; a mother, and you deprived me of my children. My blood alone remains: take it, but do not make me suffer long.
  • Courage! I have shown it for years; think you I shall lose it at the moment when my sufferings are to end?
    • Responding to the priest who had accompanied her to the foot of the guillotine, who had whispered, "This is the moment, Madame, to arm yourself with courage." Variant: Courage? The moment when my troubles are going to end is not the moment when my courage is going to fail me.
  • Monsieur, je vous demande pardon. Je ne l'ai pas fait exprès..
    • Pardon me, monsieur. It was not on purpose.
      • Last words, said to the executioner after accidentally stepping upon his foot. Variant translation: Monsieur, I beg your pardon.

About Marie Antoinette

  • There are crosses for all shoulders.
    • Attributed to a seer who was asked by Marie's mother if her daughter would be happy in France.
  • The Feast of All Souls, was the great Catholic Day of the Dead, when the departed were solemnly commemorated in a series of requiem Masses, in churches and chapels heavily draped in black. What this actually meant during the childhood of Marie Antoinette was that her birthday was generally celebrated on its eve, the Feast of All Saints, a day of white and gold.
  • Vive la Reine!
    • Long live the Queen!
    • Shouted by some of the mob who had demanded that the queen come to the balcony, after being impressed by her bravery in standing alone for almost ten minutes while many in the crowd pointed muskets at her.
  • I have promised [my readers] the head of Antoinette. I will go and cut if off myself if there is any delay in giving it to me.
  • Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette have often been portrayed as weak and vacillating. Far from it; their policy between 1789 and 1792 was entirely consistent, and highly conservative. They were prepared to die for their beliefs, and ultimately did so.
  • Sorrow had blanched the Queen's once beautiful hair; but her features and air still commanded the admiration of all who beheld her; her cheeks, pale and emaciated, were occasionally tinged with a vivid colour at the mention of those she had lost. When led out to execution, she was dressed in white; she had cut off her hair with her own hands. Placed in a tumbrel, with her arms tied behind her, she was taken by a circuitous route to the Place de la Revolution, and she ascended the scaffold with a firm and dignified step, as if she had been about to take her place on a throne by the side of her husband.

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