If they don't have bread, let them eat cakes!

Marie antoinette

According to legend, the French queen Marie-Antoinette, having learned that people have nothing to eat and they have no bread, replied: “If they have no bread, let them eat cakes!”. This story first appeared in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's book "Confessions" (1766-1770).

The problem is that Marie Antoinette was then still a girl and lived in Austria, Rousseau does not have any specific name at all - it's just an unnamed princess. However, it is believed that a specific historical character is behind the phrase, namely Maria Theresia of Austria (1638-1683), wife of the “sun king” Louis XIV.

In addition, in the original phrase "qu'ils mangent de la brioche", it is not cakes that are mentioned, but brioches - sweet rolls made of butter dough with the addition of butter. A variant of the phrase "No bread, eat rolls", you see, does not sound so defiant.


Rousseau was a philosopher and freethinker, disgraced in France, his works inspired the revolutionaries, it was they who took this quote and spread it among the people to denounce the monarchy. It happened during the times of the Great French Revolution. Guess who was the queen at that time? That's right - the wife of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette.

The people did not like her. The Queen led a riotous life, had many favorites and spent crazy money on entertainment and gambling. With rare exceptions, her companions were intriguers who, taking advantage of their position, received lucrative positions, benefits and expensive gifts for themselves and their relatives. The behavior of Marie Antoinette gave rise to rumors of her depravity and narrow-mindedness that spread throughout France.

An excellent reason to hang another label on the queen appeared somewhat later among revolutionary leaders who found a suitable phrase in the writings of Rousseau. By the way, at present in most of the communes of France there is a street named after Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

As everyone knows, shortly after the revolution, on October 15, 1793, the queen was beheaded. And, allegedly uttered by her phrase "If they have no bread, let them eat cakes!", Came to us through the centuries.