3Marie Antoinette was a Bitch
Marie Antoinette is known to most people for allegedly saying, "Let them eat cake" when she found out the people of France were out of bread. Hell, some of you only knew that saying, and didn't even know who said it. So Marie Antoinette's bitchiness is more famous than she is.
This portrait is of Marie at age 13, proving she had a life-long case of old lady hair.
British writer Mary Wollstonecraft is now known as one of the first feminists, but she got the anti-Marie ball rolling by painting Marie Antoinette as a greedy, uncaring queen not because it was true but because of what she represented: The upper class and their supposedly God-given rights.
"Let them kindly refrain from putting their greasy fingers on the tablecloth."
To a lesser extent, Jean-Jacques Rousseau is also to blame for the world's most classic "Marie Antoinette was a bitch" rumor. It was Rousseau who wrote the line "Let them eat cake." However, he could not have meant this to have been attributed to the Queen since she was about 11 and still an Austrian princess at the time he wrote it. All he says is that he had heard that a "great princess" (possibly implying the wife of Louis XIV) said it at some point.
What a dick.
While Marie Antoinette was functionally illiterate and very sheltered, there is no reason to believe she was a bad person.
Turns out guillotines aren't exactly picky.
She was disliked by her people for her Austrian ancestry, something she could hardly help. Imagine if you married into a dysfunctional family when you were only 14, and they hated you for purely Xenophobic reasons, and blamed you for all of their problems, and they were French. How would you react? Well, by all accounts from those who actually knew her, Antoinette was a sweet and caring wife and mother who expressed deep concern for her adopted country. The "let them eat cake" came about at a time when the stories that made people shout the loudest were the ones that stuck.
It would be like future historians looking back on the testimony of protesters from the late 20th Century, and coming to the conclusion that every American President from Reagan through Obama had been an avowed member of the Nazi party.
2Naked Lady Godiva Rode Her Horse Through Town
Lady Godiva rode her horse through the town of Coventry, naked, as a protest to her husband's exorbitant taxes on their fellow townsmen.
Above: Serious History.
The story goes that Godiva's husband Leofric kind of double-dog dared her to do it. She complained about his taxes and he said he'd lower them if she rode through the town on a horse, naked. The townspeople were ordered to stay home, close their shutters and keep their eyes closed and Lady G called his bluff and mounted up. Except for that one perv who bore a hole through his door to get a peek and was struck blind for his dirtiness, everyone won. The sick bastard of a husband got a show he never forgot, the townspeople got lowered taxes and Lady Godiva went down in history as one badass aristocrat.
And, somewhere along the line, we all got preposterously expensive chocolate.
Now if that didn't actually happen, why the hell would anyone make something that bizarre up? It's like passing down a story that in 1985 the mayor promised the local librarian a subscription to Highlights if she performed Swan Lake for the city council.
Lady Godiva owned the town. She didn't need permission from her husband to lower taxes.
Or to lower anything else, if you catch our drift.
Godiva, or Godgifu of Mercia was totally a real person and both her and her husband Leofric were well known for their generosity. They built monasteries and gave out money like it was candy, apparently. That's what we know about this wealthy couple from contemporary sources. It wasn't until about 100 years after her death that the legend of the nudie ride showed up in a history written by a monk named Roger of Wendover. Roger claimed he got the story from another chronicler from the abbey named John, but guess what? We don't have that copy of the story. Historians think the story of Lady Godiva riding her horse nakedly might have just been an apocryphal way of showing her unbridled generosity.
Above: unbridled "generosity."
It's most likely the event never took place and was just written as an interesting story about the town of Coventry. That or the monks just needed to sneak some naked ladies into their daily reading somehow.
"And... then... they... totally... started... lezzing... out. Amen."