Louis XIV of France really was as unpleasant a fellow as he's been depicted. In 1674, when he was visiting a school at Clermont, he heard from the school's authorities that one of the children, a nine- year-old Irish lad named Francis Seldon, had made a pun about the king's bald head.
Louis was furious. He had a secret warrant drawn up for the child's arrest, and young Seldon was thrown into solitary confinement in the Bastille. His parents, members of one of Europe's richest merchant families, were told simply that the child had disappeared. Days turned to months, months to years, and Louis himself passed away. But Francis spent sixty-nine years "in the hole" for making fun of the king's baldness.