Sunday, February 8, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake!

On Friday, I went to the the French Revolutions exhibit with two of my friends. It was a complete history of the many revolutions, beginning with Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette--using some pictorials, some artifacts, but mostly through written dialogues. Although it was not the most dazzling of exhibits...we still managed to spend 3 hours there--discussing, reading and trying to dust off our combined memories of French history! Of course, we ended up having more questions than the exhibit was willing to share...Questions like..."When do you think people started to take baths on a regular basis?" That question was brought on from talking about French perfume and why it was invented! Upon viewing a portrait of Marie Antoinette, we all spouted the infamous "Let them eat cake!" quotation. However, we all know that she really didn't say that! She just lost her head over the 'whole not understanding the state of the French economy'...(do you think that is a simplification of her role in French History?) However, I must admit, she certainly knew how to dress!


When we approached this portrait in the exhibit...we were amazed. This was painted while she was imprisoned. We thought that perhaps her confinement couldn't have been too terrible if she could sit for a portrait!
Of course, I had to see what it might have been like to lose one's head...hence the following photo. (do you think dad is shaking his head at my creative photo shoot?) Oh, what I am willing to do for a blog entry...especially when I have had zero inspiration--but I digress!
While on her way to her execution, she stepped on the foot of her executioner...for which she said, "Pardon me sir, I did not mean it!"
Most of the men responsible for the overthrow of the monarchy, also ended up losing their heads. Apparently, Dr. Guillotine designed his contraption as a more humane way to take off one's head. He and others of the revolution felt that the purpose was to end the life quickly, and not to torture the condemned. Furthermore, it was seen as an expression of equality..all condemned, whether noble or otherwise were treated equally. However, to his dismay, Dr. Guillotine was unhappy that his instrument began to be called by his name!

Of course, we met Voltaire...whose real name was Fran├žois Marie Arouet. (that was another question we had...why on earth would a mother name a son Marie?) He has inspiring quotes and I suspect that I shall have to read a book about his life! We also met Rousseau...who apparently enjoyed a hatred of Voltaire and he of him! We figured that out when viewing a gilded clock with the two of them raising fists to each other. Here is a response of Voltaire to Rousseau after reading a copy of his "The Social Contract":

"I have received your new book against the human race, and thank you for it. Never was such a cleverness used in the design of making us all stupid. One longs, in reading your book, to walk on all fours. But as I have lost that habit for more than sixty years, I feel unhappily the impossibility of resuming it. Nor can I embark in search of the savages of Canada, because the maladies to which I am condemned render a European surgeon necessary to me; because war is going on in those regions; and because the example of our actions has made the savages nearly as bad as ourselves." Although, when Voltaire died he did say that "I die adoring God, loving my friends, not hating my enemies, and detesting superstition." So perhaps they are now friends...

Then there there is Marat, stabbed to death while in his bath by Charlotte Corday...and, and , well, I could go on and on, but I suppose this is way too much information for all of you...Just know that I love a good story!