But he [King Louis XVI] had a Queen [Marie Antoinette] of absolute sway over his weak mind, and timid virtue … [with] some smartness of fancy, but no sound sense was proud, disdainful of restraint, indignant at all obstacles to her will, eager in the pursuit of pleasure, and firm enough to hold to her desires, or perish in their wreck. Her inordinate gambling and dissipations … had been a sensible item in the exhaustion of the treasury … her inflexible perverseness, and dauntless spirit, led herself to the Guillotine, & drew the king on with her, and plunged the world into crimes & calamities which will forever stain the pages of modern history.
Source: Autobiography, 1821
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
A weak leader with a strong, evil advisor (or wife) is bad news for all!
The previous post explained how the King of France might have become the head of a constitutional monarchy in 1789, giving broad new rights to his people. Except for the influence of his wife …
Marie Antoinette (1755-93) was 15 when she married the 16 year old Dauphin of France. She became Queen at age 19, when he was installed as King Louis XVI. By Jefferson’s account, she was superficially impressive, but arrogant, headstrong, belligerent, perverse, and given to her own pleasures at the extreme expense of others. In contrast, the King, while honest, was weak and timid, and her influence over him was evident. She was guillotined in October, 1793, 10 months after her husband had met the same fate. Both were 38 years old.
“Let them eat cake,” a derisive remark to the bread-less peasants of France, is often attributed to the Queen. It cannot be documented and is most likely fiction, though the sentiment has some basis in fact.
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The Moral Liberal Thomas Jefferson Editor, Patrick Lee, is a professional speaker, actor and writer. Since 1990, he has inspired, entertained and educated audiences from Maine to Hawaii with his authentic, first person leadership presentations as President Thomas Jefferson, Frontiersman Daniel Boone, and Lewis & Clark Co-Leader William Clark. He also appears as himself, The Hopeful Humorist™, with a program of motivational humor, patriotism and inspiration.