“Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”

The current fascination with social media posters showing famous people along with quotations shows the art of creativity on one level. On another level a good share of these quotes are not from the people shown in the poster.

Digital art is superb, but people begin to accept the quote and the person as one and the same. Factual reality is not always found on the internet.

I wonder if the internet had been available back in the “old days” what kind of digital art with quotes would have appeared. I am sure some of them would have been scandalous and in poor taste.

Perhaps, one of the most famous quotes attributed to a historical personage was “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”. Translated: “Let them eat cake.”

This quote, with all of its societal implications, has been given the dubious honor of having been uttered by Queen Marie Antoinette, wife of King Louis XVI of France. The context was that when the Queen was informed that the people were hungry she spoke these fateful words, which then spread like wildfire through the rioting masses.


Royalty and aristocracy have always been viewed with suspicion. Their reality was far removed from the everyday reality of the poor who struggled for sustenance.

The word translated as cake is brioche. What actually is brioche?

“Brioche is enriched French bread, meaning that the dough contains a high proportion of fat in it. Adding ingredients like milk and oil will enrich dough. In the case of brioche, the dough is enriched with lots of butter and egg yolks. This gives the bread a very fine, very soft crumb and an almost flaky texture, in addition to turning the crust a dark golden color after baking.” http://bakingbites.com/2010/07/what-is-brioche/

Brioche is bread, not cake. A cake does not need yeast or kneading.

Did the Queen actually utter such an insensitive, heartless statement to her staff about her people? The historical evidence does not support the claim.

Revolution was in the air. The aristocracy became an easy target focusing the people’s attention on the lavish lifestyle of the rich and famous.

Today’s political leaders are targets as well. Many things which have no factual basis are written and stated about what a political leader believes and says.

However, people believe these attributions, and education does not seem to be a sufficient barrier—many “true believers” are educated. We exist in a very strange world of what is and what is not truth, as believed by many.

This planet traversing the cosmos has many problems. Let us not add to them by believing everything we see on the internet.

Life is too transient to spend in the circle of murky truths and surmisings with speculative hues of misinformation. Remember conjectures are just guesses without sustainable evidence.

Enjoy your “Brioche” with a cup of tea. However, always verify what brioche actually is before mentally digesting it from the internet.

G. D. Williams © 2014

POST 580


Robyn Lee’s Image


Marie Antoinette

ALFRED W Elmore’s painting of Marie Antoinette, her children and Madame Élisabeth, when the rioters stormed the Tuileries Palace—June 20, 1792.

“There was certainly a huge industry devoted to attacking and slandering the Queen, making all sorts of even pornographic attacks on her to sully her reputation. The ‘cake’ claim was simply one assault among many, albeit the one which has survived most clearly throughout history. The true origin of the phrase is unknown.”


“Historians generally describe the French queen as a kind-hearted and intelligent woman. She may have been frivolous, but she wasn’t the empty-headed, out-of-touch ninny of popular imagination.
“When the 14-year-old blond-haired, blue-eyed beauty married the future king of France in 1770, she was a national sensation. It was much later, as the country geared up for revolution, that Marie became a convenient target for pamphleteers, who used her to symbolize the profligate, morally corrupt monarchy. She was beheaded in 1793.”


“Whatever Marie Antoinette’s faults—in addition to her renowned extravagance, she was unable to comprehend the French people’s thirst for democracy—she did not respond to news that starving Parisians had no bread by saying: “Let them eat cake.” According to Fraser, this monumental indifference was first ascribed, probably also apocryphally, to Maria Theresa, the Spanish princess who married Louis XIV more than a century before Marie Antoinette set foot in France. Still, for more than two centuries, historians have debated whether Marie Antoinette bore the blame for her fate or was a victim of circumstance. Although she remained a fervent supporter of absolute royal power and an unrepentant enemy of democratic ideals, her many acts of compassion included tending to a peasant gored by a stag and taking in a poor orphan boy and overseeing his education. “She was so happy at doing good and hated to miss any opportunity of doing so,” wrote Madame Campan, the First Lady of the Bedchamber. The softhearted queen, it seems, hungered more for tenderness than power.”


“After the two-day trial, an all-male jury found Marie Antoinette guilty on all charges. Marie Antoinette was sent to the guillotine, as her husband had been several months before, on October 16, 1793….

“Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France, has been both vilified as the personification of the evils of monarchy and exalted as a pinnacle of fashion and beauty. Marie Antoinette the villain is perhaps best captured by the famous, although almost certainly apocryphal, story that, upon hearing that the people had no bread to eat, she remarked, “Let them eat cake.” Marie Antoinette the heroine is reflected in the obsessive scholarship on her choices in wardrobe and jewelry, and the endless speculation about her extramarital love life. Both of these takes on Marie Antoinette’s character demonstrate the tendency, as prevalent today as it was in her own time, to depict her life and death as symbolic of the downfall of European monarchies in the face of global revolution.”