Bastille Day

I’m sorry if this has been covered–I couldn’t find it in the search–but if anyone will know, it’s the Teeming Millions. In French, how did Marie Antoinette actually (and probably apocryphally) say “Let them eat cake”? As I recall, there were two theories: the actual word for cake (gateux?) and another for the stuff that “caked” the bakers’ pans when they were through. Makes a big difference!
Alan Q

My understanding is that “cake” referred to the crusty residue that remained in the pan after the baker removed the loaf of bread. In other words the Queen was suggesting that the peasants could get by on crumbs.

Is there any evidence she actually said this, or was it just Jacoben propaganda?

Cecil covered this in one of the books, but I don’t recall which one. His answer was that it’s unlikely Marie said “Let them eat cake” in any form. She may have made statements that led one to believe she thought like that (i.e., too dimwitted to understand that people were poor), but she wasn’t quite that cold-hearted.

As someone once said, “History is written by the winners.”

More of the Straight Dope pages 334-335, for those following along at home.

Bastille Day is also my wedding anniversary.

On that historic day, 15 years ago, as we knelt at the altar, I whispered to my wife that people were dancing in the streets in France to commemorate our wedding.

“Its fiction, but all the facts are true!”

What a lovely story, SoxFan. My aunt was born on D Day. It so happens her name is Dianne.

I understand that the “let them eat cake” routine was said by another noble lady and ascribed incorrectly to Ms. Capet.

Incidentally, the cake cited in the French version of the quotation to is neither “gâteau” (what we usually think of as cake), nor the dregs of baking. The French version - “Qu’ils mangent de brioche” - refers to brioche, a type of sweet bread.

Thanks, Matt, that was about what I was looking for–I was pretty sure of the
noun(s) and infinitive verb, but my French is severely grammatically challenged!
–Alan Q