Since 1562 French Catholics and Protestant Hugenots had been fighting a series of bloody wars, called “The French Wars of Religion.”
In 1589, Henry IV had became the legal heir to the French throne, after King Henry III was assassinated by a fanatical Catholic monk.
Henry IV was a Huguenot. And, although most of the country accepted him as King, many Catholics, especially those in the essential city of Paris, refused to recognize his authority
Henry solved the political and religious impasse by converting to Catholicism and by this act was allowed to enter Pairs. Legend has it that he told a friend “Paris vaut une messe.” (“Paris is worth a mass.”)
I was taking notes in college on this event. I wrote down, “Paris is worth an ass.” I friend of mine saw my notes and laughed and laughed and laughed. For I had changed the story’s meaning somewhat.
But I stand by what I had honestly heard, Paris really is worth an ass.
– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.