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Question: Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution?
I'm being Marie Antoinette in a debate in history class tomorrow. The question we're debating is "Why did the French Revolution occur and was it inevitable?" I'm having a lot of trouble finding sources on what her perspective was. I'm sure she was against it because of all the violence and propaganda against her, but what could I say to defend her actions? Thank you!
Answer: Marie Antoinette was frivolous and extravagent, but she was unfairly blamed for France's economic ills (in fact personal expenditure by the royal family accounted for only a tiny sliver of state expenditure). She was actually quite compassionate towards the poor, and she and Louis both gave generously to the poor in times of hardship, Marie Antoinette using money from her own personal allowance to donate to the poor. And Louis and Marie Antoinette were in favour of making the tax system more fair by making the nobles pay taxes, but were opposed by the nobility.
In 1788 she was in favour of the Third Estate being allowed more of a say in the Estates General, but although the King and Queen were in favour of less burdensome taxes for the poor, more representation for the Third Estate etc, they did not want a Constitutional monarchy, and they were in favour of using force to suppress the Revolution.
I think Marie Anotinette would probably have put part of the blame for the Revolution on the selfishness of the nobles, by blocking attempts to reform the tax system, extend the number of members of the Third Estate allowed into the Estates General, etc. she could argue (justifiably) that her own spending did not do any harm to France. But she was in favour of suppressing the Revolution by force, and I think she would be convinced that it was a bad thing for the revolution to happen. She would have believed wholeheartedly in the monarchy, because it was what she had been brought up to believe in.
The French Revolution History Channel #5