Le roi s'amuse
is a play written by Victor Hugo
. While it depicts the escapades of Francis I of France
, censors of the time believed that it also contained insulting references to King Louis-Philippe
and banned it after one performance. The lawsuit that Hugo brought to permit the performance of the play propelled him into celebrity as a defender of freedom of speech in France
. He lost the suit, however, and the play was banned for another fifty years. Léo Delibes
later wrote incidental music for its performance.
Giuseppe Verdi based his opera Rigoletto on Hugo's play. Austrian authorities in Venice forced him to move the action from France to Mantua.