47 comments


  • Diana

    Thank you for pointing out what eludes most – the historical truth. She was merely a victim and unfortunately she had powerful enemies.

    October 18, 2009
  • Laudys

    I just finished watching Sofia Coppola’s movie and it was what inspired to search about Marie Antoinette, because I had always believed her to be this selfish, high maintenance woman, eating cake as the people died in the streets. But the film, although not historical correct, made me realize something. She was just a girl who liked to party and wear pretty clothes and have fun, just like any other girl. Indulging herself with comfort food (and by food I mean expensive things) to cope with the pressure and dejection that her fruitless marriage caused. And then she has kids and she’s like different, she’s grown and matured.

    Now I completely believe that she was nothing but a scapegoat to placate the French’s thirst for blood and vengeance against the nobility. They created this version of her for the people to hate, a diversion.

    October 24, 2009
  • Rochi

    I also recently watched the Coppola film. This article plus the movie have made me believe that someone so good hearted like this woman, would never have said “let them eat cake” when told that the peasants were hungry. It seems to me that it was merely a method of propaganda by the French revolutionaries…

    November 01, 2009
  • AB

    A good article. Also good to see that history is beginning to look more favourably on this much maligned woman who at the most, was quilty of mere naivity. Thank you

    November 03, 2009
  • edna

    actually the let them eat cake comment was said by queen Marie Therese. king Louis XIV’s wife. she was a lumpy inbred Spanish Hapsburg.

    November 24, 2009
  • Lynne

    Thank you for the enlightening article. It is unfortunate that deliberate misinformation and propaganda has very much an influence on public audience which craves scandals and gossips regardless of the truth. There is a Chinese proverb which says ‘Rumors passes no further than those who imparts the truth’. The queen’s story is a real tragedy and a victim of circumstances. May she rest in peace forever with the truth.

    December 18, 2009
  • Paul

    After I had a chance to visit Versailles as a tourist I got interested in reading of the much talked about Marie Antoinette , the queen of France. Going by what I saw and read, she fell prey to a rowdy uncontrolled group of revolutionary propaganda. I hope no human falls prey to such vindictive behaviour.

    January 01, 2010
  • when i read the books Trianon and Madame Royale it really opened my eyes to see what agood person Marie Antoinette was. I had always been taught that she was an evil selfish person. i agree with everything that is said in this article. These misconceptions need to be fixed. People need to investigate and find out what the truth is. When there are movies made people believe everything but they dont seem to realise that moviesare not always true.

    January 07, 2010
  • […] I ran into this sympathetic article here at Marie-Antoinette.org by E.M. Vidal** called “A Reputation in Shreds.” In the article there is a call to support for understanding that M-A was actually a very […]

    February 05, 2010
  • belinda

    I too just watched coppola movie and was inspired to read more about
    Marie Antoinette and her family/kids. My past knowledge of her was of her being evil and frivolous with food and money. I am glad I ran into this article/website. Past articles/websites are also following Coppola’s film.

    I am sad about her demise and her families. I can’t believe the deaths of the children. It is heart breaking to read. Such sorrow over the misinformation and propaganda and that its influence lead to the deaths of such great rulers.

    February 06, 2010
  • Claire

    I first learnt about Marie Antoinette in my French Language lesson about 2 years ago. We watch Coppola’s film and ever since then I have been inspired to research about her and learn the true side of her. She was a wonderful woman who didn’t deserve her horrid death. Everybody believes what the Revolutionaries said about her (and what movies depict about her ) extravagent life and how she was selfish and didn’t care about her people, when in fact she helped the poor in so many ways. All the lies need to be fixed so everyone knows the historical truth about Marie Antoinette.

    February 06, 2010
  • Lorna Tilton

    I believe that she may have very well said, “Let them eat cake.” She was so young and naive. I can picture her sitting there all of 19 years old and being informed of just how hungry the peasents are and the corner of her eye catches the plates of fine pastry all around her. I can picture her grabbing up one of those plates and swiftly passing it to the informent offering all of her pastry to the hungry. There is a good chance she may have uttered this phrase completely innocent of it’s sarcastic humor. My children say things I wish they wouldn’t. I’d give it a 50/50 chance.

    February 11, 2010
  • David

    do any of you guys know any possible questions that i could ask someone like Marie A. to convict King Louis (we are doing a mock trial in class)

    February 25, 2010
  • jessica

    I think you have it wrong. I think that if you watch the film, it goes from how people thought of her at the time to her own point of view the situations. She was pulled from her family, forced to abandon all that she loved, thrown into a society of snobbishness and excess. She was only a teen, and how immature were we at 14, 15 years old? Nobody guided her into the sovereign that she could have been. She was allowed to do what she wanted when she wanted, and nobody said anything otherwise. I personally think Sofia did a wonderful job of giving a modern take on Marie Antoinette, she made it catchy for the younger generation, yet she stuck to the facts in a Queen’s point of view. I personally looked at the film not as it was but read between the lines. I love Marie Antoinette’s story, she’s a fascinating figure, mother and ruler. She was then what the hottest, most trend setting celebrities are now.

    March 31, 2010
  • Julie

    I don’t think that Sofia Coppola’s movie cast a shadow over Marie Antoinette. I find the movie amazing for the costumes, the locations, the atmosphere, but also because it shows her as what she was: a girl my age. I actually pitied her and I can’t imagine what it would be like to be pulled away from your mom, your sisters and brothers, even your pet, to be some stranger’s wife..poor Marie, alone in Versailles, surrounded by gossips and by a loveless husband..

    May 12, 2010
  • saphire

    this artical was truly enlightening. its sad that the general populace thinks so poorly of someone who was truely a normal person under great pressure. thank you for presenting the facts.

    May 20, 2010
  • charlene

    @Lorna Tilton, she did not say that, it has been proven false many times. if my memory is correct it wassaid by one of her relatives before she was born and written about in a book. but the revolutionaries used it as propoganda against the queen (remembering the times most of the population wouldnt have been educated so would believe almost anything).
    also it wasnt even cake,the literal translation is let them eat brioche, which is a form of really expensive bread, so the quote is void anyway.

    May 20, 2010
  • Courtland

    I would have to disagree with the opening paragraph commenting on Sofia Coppola’s film. In actuality, the film may have opened the eyes of those whom were blind to the realities of Marie Antoinette’s lifestyle. If a viewer paid remotely any attention to the film, one would recognize that the Queen cared for her people, despite them not being of her kind to begin with.

    June 13, 2010
  • poi

    i just finished reading a book about marie antoinette entitle Abundance.. at first i thought the book was very biased but when i finished reading this, i realized that marie antoinette is just a victim and that the book i read about her was mostly true. she may have had mistakes but i now know that she wouldnt have done so without a reason.

    June 26, 2010
  • Sean

    I first heard of Marie Antoinette when I was in my early teens, but never gave a care of what she did and was; but then I came past the book by Antonia Fraser and something hit me in her picture… I loved it! This brought about my interest in her. I bought the book, but never managed to read it thoroughly in 11 years!
    I had heard she was a selfish bitch who spent wildly on luxury as the people starved outside… but I managed to notice that this is only partially true. She really did spend wildly, but one must keep in mind that she was not aware of France’s true nature of its poverty, brought about by Louis XV’s dealings of the Seven Years’ War. She rarely visited Paris, since she was only taken in palaces and rich places fit for a queen! Marie Antoinette did also donate amounts of money (referred also in one scene of the Coppola film!), but was never made aware of her people’s situation before she heard of the breaking-down of the Bastille, which obviously by then was way too late!
    Speaking of the Coppola movie, I must agree with a few other commentators that I did not find it damaging in Marie Antoinette’s reputation. Though slightly incorrect in a few historical incidents, I found it focused more on Antoinette’s time of youth and immaturity, which is why she seemed to be only interested in having fun with her friends and frolicking with her extramarital lover.
    I do like her very much, although personally I love Madame du Barry better 🙂

    July 15, 2010
  • Gabriel

    I am also in disagreement on the assumed further damage from the Coppola film as stated above. The movie if anything created an interest in me to do further research into this Monarch’s life. Yes there was wild parties, drinking, gambling and sexual escapades presented in vivid candylike confectionary colors; but remember this was a stylized and an impressionistic approach to Marie Antoinette as stated by Copolla herself. Marie Antoinette afterall is like any and all of us and that she was human. Factor in her youth and naivity to the plight of France one can at least understand her point of view. Also let us not forget that this was Versailles with its extreme customs and traditions playing a major role not only in the politcal realm but also in the financial situation of the times. With the dreamy almost etheral image presented by Versailles in that day and age along with the Court and the Monarchs must have cost an ernomous amount of money for the upkeep alone. And as Queen over this realm the expectation on her must have been very tiresome and presented its own set of hardships from producing an heir for the throne to her own self preservation admist this foreign court. And as far as the clothes look no further than a normal teenager’s closet. I am quite sure that any teenage girl if found in Marie’s shoes also would wreck havoc in spending on clothes, ribbons, millinery and any other fineries of the times.

    I so hope that history will correct itself and allow the true Marie Antoinette to emerge with grace, dignity and the truth which she so richly deserves.

    September 26, 2010
  • Vivienne

    Thanks so much for this great article. I think its terrible how Marie Antoinette has been viewed through the centuries, and I’m glad to see writings on who she really was. Its sad that Marie Antoinette had to be sacrificed (both literally and figuratively) to the revolutionary propaganda of her time.

    December 01, 2010
  • Charles

    I have not seen the movie. The article you have published appears to substantiate its position thorougly enough by the biographical references it gives on Marie-Antoinette. In my own lifetime (I’m 65) I had never heard anything favorable about this famous queen. Everything was negative. I can understand why this should be so, because revolutionaries, if they win, have to justify their political future. Think of this: You have the most beautiful queen probably in all history. She is charitable to the poor. She is morally above reproach. She is a victim to circumstances. So, you either totally destroy her image as a national symbol, or you risk the very real eventuality that nostalgia will attract future generations to return to a political alternative to the present. Apart from this reason, history books often choose the easy way of passing on biases. There are many persons who historically have been ruined forever. Check out Lucretia Borgia. She is not anything like most history books give us. She is comparable to Marie-Antoinette: a good woman with lots of slanderers to do her in big time. Solution—one must do careful research to reach the truth. Most of us don’t like to do this. But there is no other way. Especially nowadays in the Informatic Revolution: everything is given to us predigested in movies. I am very grateful to find that the commenters on this web site have been open-minded enough to accept the possibility that Marie-Antoinette may be someone quite different than the distorted image that the public has been fed for over two centuries.

    December 06, 2010
  • Pugwash81

    @ charles, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I will even go as far to say that in today’s world, the french educational system is still teaching these lies as fact. Anything to justify thier cause. I have a strong feeling there is more hidden away whether it maybe (documents, letters or proof) that the monarchy is not what it is taught to be. When the soviet colapsed and the KGB was dispanded, look at all the info that came out of that. (eg. Romanov’s)The media is highly controlled and political parties are squashed if they even hint at a monarchist liking.

    That said, I also think that this film, though not accurate, introduced me to her and her cause. So how could it be a bad thing? Anyone with a brain could watch it and then look up information on her and see the truth. I don’t know why adaptations are always seen as a documentary. Its a movie for entertainment purposes. It just happens to feature real historical people. If you want accuracy, watch the history channel.

    Would be nice to see some info on the Vendee’s role in helping Marie.

    December 06, 2010
  • Charles

    Pugwash81: Thanks a lot for your comment. About monarchy… The word alone tuns the great majority of people completely off. Aristotle said the type of government is not what matters, but the way [underline “way”] in which it is applied by those in control. When it comes to forming an opinion about the way history is written, whether it is about Marie-Antoinette or anyone from the past, their character will be represented according to the political tastes of the ones running the show. We all need to achieve much more objectivity about history, otherwise we are easy victims to the brainwashers.

    December 07, 2010
  • IceSagge

    Well first of all id like to tell that i am a great fan of Marie Antoinette and i reed youre aricle and I dont like that you criticize her.About her behavior I dont blame her because her husbant Louis was not the type of the man she wanted and I dont think you should talk about her personal life.It was her life and noone could tell her how to live it.And when you say that she was eating candy all day long when the people were starving I dissagre to blaim her .Antoinette was too young when she left Austria and she was under pression by all aristocrats of France and had to please each of them.I think she did the best she could she was a nice and beautiful women and she should have a good memory on the people,especialy of french and austrian.

    February 23, 2011
  • Elle

    Hi, I am sorry I was so selfish at times and my maids I have been very rude to, but in this life I am different. The past teaches us.

    March 08, 2011
  • Erika

    I’m not sure if anyone mentioned Abundance, an historical novel written in the first person as Marie Antoinette. I highly recommend it, not only for the historical perspective but also for the sheer pleasure of a good read.

    April 07, 2011
  • Bob A. Rillo

    I have to admit that it was after watching the movie that I decided to do a little research. I think that the film was slightly more sympathetic and humanizing inasmuch as it showed a young woman confronted by a lonely situation doing the best she could and eventually maturing and coping with her situation. At the very least the film did make Marie Antoinette less of a caricature, though after reading some historical accounts and biographical data, as well as this site, the film is really more fiction than fact.

    June 10, 2011
  • Sandra Catalfamo

    I have seen the 2006 Marie Antoinette film, until this film I had no interest in this historic figure. After seeing this film I began some additional research about about her. In fact, the 2006 movie does not do any justice for Marie A. It is not even mentioned at the end of this film the factorial fate that encountered the King and Queen, that she was indeed beheaded, if you did not know about the subject, you would think the King and Queen rode off together to another destination. I thank all the previous comments especially those who are quoting from resources and presenting the truth of what happened to Marie Antoinette, her husband and children too!! It is disgusting to think of what happened to them, the French people should be outraged and ashamed with their past actions; the tragedy and humiliation that was thrust upon this family is uncomprehensable!! The 2006 film is more glamorizing of the icon and doesn’t tell the story of what actually happened. Another film and far much better in telling the facts about Marie Antoinette is the 1938 film, titled MARIE ANTOINETTE, starring Norma Shearer and Tyrone Power. I would highly recommend this film — catch it on TCM or Unlimited Movies.com

    June 21, 2011
  • madamelaprincesse

    Saying that the 2006 film Marie Antoinette has damaged her reputation is wrong. Of all the marie antoinette films out there I think that that is the most sympathetic of them.I adore 18th century French history and I believe hat Marie antoinette was a misunderstood queen who was thrown into intolerable situations and all her spending was a result of this.
    Madame la princesse

    August 01, 2011
  • Crystal

    It is so sad how people can judge one another just for silly reasons like this. They judged Marie-Antoinette mostly because she was rich. It is heartbreaking to see all the false accusations that were made against her only to ensure her death…especially the one regarding her little boy.
    She was so polite and humble, even just before her death, apologising to the executioner for accidently stepping onto his foot. She would have truly been one of the greatest queens if there wasn’t so much conspiracy surrounding her.
    I wonder if the people felt a little guilty after she was executed?

    September 05, 2011
  • Emma

    I so enjoyed this well written and objective article. Having been to Versailles and completed detailed research on the Queen, my sympathy and admiration for her has increased and increased. For all those interested in Marie Antionette I would highly recommend the detailed, balanced, scrupulously researched, and un-put-down-able biography by acclaimed historian Antonia Fraser, entitled Marie Antoinette: the Journey. I devoured it, in tears at times, and the copious illustrations are amazing. It makes me so angry when I hear her dismissed as a frivolous, champagne swilling idiot – and she never, never said let them eat cake!!

    September 16, 2011
  • MOGURL

    I just read a book on Marie Antoinette she was just a victim of the cort i think they should not have killed her she was just a person who was confused by there mean ways

    October 21, 2011
  • Herstorianna

    Great article. I have yet to see the 2006 film as I rarely watch “historical” films due to their annoying habit of making me angry with their lack of actual historic facts.

    I wanted to share with you a book that you may be interested in reading, it is called Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran, it is quite a good book about the famous wax-modeller who was at times quite close to the royal family. It is a work of fiction based on historic events and is sympathetic to the Royal family’s plight.

    December 21, 2011
  • je ne veut pas mettre mon nom dsl.

    je ne suis pas totalement en accord avec se que vous avez dit le film de copolla n’a pas terni l’image de marie antoinette Copolla la seulement enjoliver pour le cinema c’est sur elle ne passer pas son temp au triadon dans les bras d’un amant mais ce n’est qu’un film qui retrace en gros la vie de marie antoinette en “egsagerer” ( excuser moi pour l’ortographe je ne suis pas tres douer) donc en claire je ne suis pas d’accord avec votre article. et marie antoinette est la plus grande reine de france que je connais du au de mes 12 ans et j’en sais sur elle!!

    December 22, 2011
  • Brian

    It sounds like Maria was the victim of 18th century attack ads. When will we learn better 🙁

    January 12, 2012
  • Chris

    While the French revolutionaries may have used Antoinette as a scapegoat, they were not totally injust in their hatred for her or the extravagances of the monarchy at the time. The French monarchy by its very nature lived lavishly often without any regard to what the common people were going through and Marie Antoinette was no exception to the fact. How would you like it if the president of your country was ordering millions of dollars worth of gowns and jewels while you were starving? To say that Marie Antoinette and Louis Auguste did everything in their power to help the ailing French people is simply not true. There are numerous records to show that during the famine and particularly difficult years for the people, Antoinette ordered new Reisener furniture for the Petit Trianon which in today’s money could easily cost hundereds of thousands of dollars. In the end, Marie Antoinette lived like royalty and was very much out of touch with her people and their struggles and this is what they hated more than anything.

    January 19, 2012
  • Angel

    To the Scaffold: The Life of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson I read this book because I love history and it is really nice to see that someone else has taken an interest in presenting what is so often lost to “the better story” and that is the historical facts. They’re not always a s colorful as we woudl like them to be but that is just the way it is. Thank you for this wonderful site 🙂

    February 21, 2012
  • amber

    You kno I would just like to say I was never into history even in school but I watch part of this movie in my french class n loved wht I seen me n my bf went to the movie store n I had to get the movie of her I do not believe that she was a messed up person she had a messed up life force to marry at a young age to someone tht she did not kno or at tht matter love force to leave everything she once had n tht she loved so much to pretty much b a peace offering she had no say so honestly how would u feel if u had to loose everything and with all the people who looked at her like a disappointment n did not want her there to havin all them people say all them nasty lies about her honestly to me I sprized she didn’t kill herself with all the crap she had to put up with I love hr n would loved to have been there with her cuz I would have standed by her side n let the people back then kno how I really feel they called her a whore way cuz the didn’t like her its sad I have read so many bad things about her her r more bad things about her then good she was n angel who did her best n her people killed her for no reason just a young girl forced to do somethin tht she mit not have wanted to just to keep the peace in the first place does tht part mean anythin to anyone she spent money to make her feel good cuz was somewhere she mit not have want to been did anyone ever think of tht how would u have dealed with this

    February 22, 2012
  • ray n

    Marie-Antoinette was a victim of circumstances. Born of royalty, Austrian no less, she was forced into marriage for the benefit of international relations.

    Among the French proletariat, it was extremely difficult to show compassion for her, in part because of her nationality. When household livre is scarce, bread even scarcer, unrest begins.

    The resentment toward the rich and the ruling had already begun, deep inside the population, even before Marie-Antoinette crossed the border into France for the first time.

    The events that followed worsen the image of the crown, and Marie-Antoinette was certainly made a scapegoat. The overwhelming and sometimes bizzare rumours were testament to such resentments.

    Was the brutality of the revolution warranted? No, from a humanitarian point of view, and from that of Marie-Antoinette.

    But from a broader sociological scope, it can be understood just how and why it happened.

    Born of regal blood, and thrown into a frivolous world of French aristocratic debauchery, she was only living the life she was presented with. I felt that Coppola’s movie addressed that subject very clearly.

    One thing that has been left unsaid – it was a tremendously difficult period for women to live in.

    Cheers,
    ~r

    March 21, 2012
  • christi walker

    Ray N, hit the nail on the head with that last sentence. Even a queen is still ‘just a woman’. I don’t think she had as much power as people think she did, and I’m hoping she gets her good name back in time.

    May 05, 2012
  • diana

    thank you for posting this article for which you have obviously done an amazing job researching Marie Antoinette. Even in today’s society, there are political scapegoats; someone who we are told to point fingers at and blame. However, there is always a back story. She was very young and married off to another teenager for political reasons. She was a girl who enjoyed life (like other girls at the same age). She was a loyal wife and mother. She was kind, giving and sympathetic to those around her. She was a woman, like all other women- and she lived in a very difficult time for women. I hope that Marie Antoinette’s good reputation is restored.

    June 04, 2012
  • […] about Marie Antoinette, such as her overly extravagant lifestyle, that aren’t entirely true. A Reputation in Shreds touches upon the idea that Sofia Coppola’s Film Marie Antoinette has further damaged the […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP (72.232.7.22) doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP (76.74.254.120) and so is spam.

    September 10, 2012
  • […] The king and queen were philanthropists. […]

    March 06, 2013
  • Well in the movie They Trashed her reputation…
    Smh

    March 22, 2013
  • I feel that the film by Sofia coppola is degrading the Queen. Coppola would have done better to study history instead of making a moquery out of this delightful and charming Lady, Queen Marie Antoinette. The film is a disgrace.

    April 18, 2013

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