'Let them eat cake!' is one of the most famous phrases of history and one that everyone associates with the French Revolution. But did Marie Antoinette – the queen of France - really say it? In this film, Lucy Worsley explores some of the myths and fibs swirling around the Revolution of 1789 and the uprising that brought down the French royal family. This violent revolution became the blueprint of many future revolutions across the world. But what happened during this turbulent period is open to historical manipulation and interpretation.
Lucy discovers that Marie Antoinette never said, 'Let them eat cake'. This was a fib used by later historians to help explain why the revolution happened. Historian Michael Rapport explains how the revolution was not started by starving peasants, as many assume but was, in fact, sparked by a group of lawyers and property owners. Along the way, Lucy finds out that Maximilien Robespierre wasn't simply a bloodthirsty revolutionary who relished violence and wanted to execute everyone who disagreed with him. In his earlier years, he stood against the death penalty and slavery and fought for the rights of France's Jewish population. And the guillotine was invented by the revolutionaries not as a brutal punishment but as a more egalitarian and humanitarian form of execution.
Depending on your politics and your nationality, Lucy finds out that everyone has a very different take on the French Revolution.