How Marie Antoinette Could Have Kept Her Head: An Alternative History

After a recent Google-fest, I learned that there is no record of Marie Antoinette actually saying the quote famously attributed to her. In response to reports the peasants were starving and had no bread to eat, she supposedly said, “Let them eat cake.” While there’s no proof she actually said that line, she did spend lavishly on dresses and other expensive crap of the day—I guess they had no Porsches in the 1700’s—and probably said a lot of things with the same sentiment. Anyway, this is a look at an alternative history in which she kept her head, so for the sake of argument let’s pretend she did say it.

Instead of openly admitting she didn’t give a shit about the poor peasants, Marie should have pretended to care about them—lip service only, of course. So they wouldn’t see through her lies, she should have found another scapegoat for problems like poverty and starvation. “Oh, you have no bread to eat? You know whose fault that is? It’s the recent immigrants from…”

(Hang on here, having never been able to afford a trip to Europe, I actually have no idea what countries border the land of (some of) my ancestors, so I need to do some more Googling. Well, shit, there are eight countries that border France. Who knew?)


Okay, let’s try this again.

“Oh, you have no bread to eat? You know whose fault that is? It’s the recent immigrants from Andorra, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Spain, and Switzerland. They’re coming over here, they’re taking your jobs, and leaving you with no bread to eat! Obviously people in poor countries like Switzerland aren’t sending their best and brightest, they’re sending criminals over here to steal your jobs. And some, I guess, are good people, whatever.

“You know what we need to do to fix this problem? We need to build a wall, people, a big wall to keep them out. It’ll be the greatest wall ever. Okay, some parts of it may be invisible because stones are expensive and labor ain’t cheap and I’ve got the fancy ball coming up and I need a new dress to wear, but still, the solid parts of that wall will be great! They’ll never get over it!

“Oh, and once we deport all those sneaky immigrants back to their own countries, don’t worry, I’ll get all your jobs back for you. We’ll open a bunch of factories to make cave-man age stone tools again, then we’ll start producing all our products here in France. Well, except for the stuff my companies produce over there in China. We’ll keep producing those things over there because it’s way cheaper, what with sweat shop labor and everything. But you guys will have to start making shit the expensive way, here at home, so you can get your jobs back, mmkay?

“How are we going to pay for the wall, you ask? We’ll make Andorra, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Spain, and Switzerland pay for it, of course, with a fifty percent tariff on all goods made over there and imported. Yes, you’ll have to pay twice as much for your bread, but they’ll be paying for the wall, not you, and hey, you can always eat cake, right?

“Oh, you don’t like that? You think I’m guilty of treason? I guess I’ll just have to start bombing Andorra, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Spain, and Switzerland, or throwing rocks at them, or whatever the hell we do for weapons around here in the 1700’s, since I don’t have Twitter.

“Oh, you think I’m a self-serving spoiled child? Well, of course I am, but most of the peasants are too dumb to care. They all just voted for me to be queen again!”

V. R. Craft is the author of Stupid Humans, a science fiction book series that asks the question, “What if all the intelligent humans abandoned Earth—and we’re what’s left? 


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