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Odd Wisconsin Archive

"Let Them Eat Cake"


That's what Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, is often thought to have remarked when the condition of starving peasants was reported to her. History caught up with her by replying "Off with her head" and she died under the guillotine at noon on Oct. 16, 1793.

By then her wealth and her palace had been plundered by the revolutionary mob. In one of history's oddities, her elaborately decorated mantel clock ended up in a Milwaukee home, according to this 1933 article, where it was keeping fine time 140 years after her execution.

Soon after the famous queen died, another was born in Wisconsin -- Marinette Chevallier. And of course one of our state's most famous eccentrics, Eleazar Williams, actually claimed to be the son of Marie Antoinette.

In fact, Marie never uttered the phrase "Let them eat cake." It's just one of those stories that is so good that posterity didn't want to ruin it with facts. "It was said 100 years before her by Marie-Therese, the wife of Louis XIV," her biographer Lady Antonia Fraser explains. "It was a callous and ignorant statement and she [Antoinette] was neither."
:: Posted in Curiosities on August 7, 2005

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