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La Révolution Français – The Economics of Eating Cake

Stew’s Introduction

I’m very pleased to have Mark Vaughan as our guest blogger today. Mark’s blog is about the economics of the French Revolution and I hope you connect the tag line to Marie Antoinette and her misquoted, “Let them eat cake.” Mark is a Ph.D. economist and was recently asked to put together a seminar on the economics of the French Revolution. I thought an abbreviated discussion might be interesting as this topic is rarely (if ever) discussed in the history books. While we knew the crops failed and France was on the verge of bankruptcy at the time, little do we understand the country’s overall economy and the direct effect it had on the Revolutionaries. More on Mark and how we met a little later on.

Marie Antoinette in the prison Conciergerie. Oil painting by Alexander Kucharsky (1793). Palace of Versailles. PD-100+. Wikimedia Commons.
Marie Antoinette in the prison Conciergerie. Oil painting by Alexander Kucharsky (1793). Palace of Versailles. PD-100+. Wikimedia Commons.

The French Revolution fascinates because of the fascinating characters and headline events.  Thanks to Stew, anyone can stand in the exact spot where a shivering, prematurely gray widow, apologized to her executioner for stepping on his foot.  But what if something more pedestrian than Marie Antoinette and the guillotine drove events?

Around the Revolution’s bicentennial, economists began applying their craft to late 18th century France.  This research suggests basic economic principles explain much of the Revolution’s dynamics – principles like governments must pay their bills, politicians respond to interest groups, printing money causes inflation, and price controls produce shortages. Read More La Révolution Français – The Economics of Eating Cake

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Marie Antoinette’s Lover?

Was he or wasn’t he? Only Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette know the truth. However, historians accept the fact that Count von Fersen was madly in love with Marie Antoinette (1755–1793). He was at the center of several key events during the French Revolution involving the king and queen. Eventually, like Marie Antoinette, von Fersen met a violent death.

THE SWEDISH NOBLE

Axel Fersen. Oil Painting by Carl Frederik von Breda (18th century). Löfstad Castle, Sweden. PD-100+. Wikimedia Commons.
Axel Fersen. Oil Painting by Carl Frederik von Breda (18th century). Löfstad Castle, Sweden. PD-100+. Wikimedia Commons.

Hans Axel, Count von Fersen (1755–1810), was a Swedish noble, diplomat, and soldier. As a young officer in the French army, von Fersen met the French Dauphine in 1771—they were both sixteen at the time. She soon invited him to Versailles and von Fersen quickly became one of Marie Antoinette’s favored guests. By 1781, von Fersen was serving with other French officers in the American War of Independence. Marie Antoinette became queen during his years away from France and the two of them frequently exchanged letters. Read More Marie Antoinette’s Lover?