Saying the truth to an immoral king, but with spirit

December 1, 2014

Henri IV visiting the miller of Lieursaint

Henri IV visiting the miller of Lieursaint

When passing through a town, Henry IV asked that they bring him the wittiest citizen, to entertain him during lunch. He was introduced to a M. Gaillard, who sat down at the table across from the king. The king immediately quipped:

― “What is the distance between gaillard (daring, entertaining, gallant) and paillard (libertine, dissolute)?”

― “Just the width of a table.”

― “God help me!” said the king, “I didn’t expect to find such boldness in such a small city.”


[Note: Henry IV was notoriously immoral.]


Edmond Guérard, Dictionnaire encyclopédique d’anécdotes (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1872), Vol. 2, 305. (

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 442

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