Front cover of a 1950 French comic book adaptation of "Riquet with the Tuft".

"Riquet with the Tuft" (French: "Riquet à la houppe"; also translated into English as "Ricky of the Tuft", "Rickey with the Tuft" and "Ricky Tuftyhead") is a French fairy tale. The most well-known version of it was written by Charles Perrault and is included in his 1697 anthology Histoires ou Contes du temps passé (Fairy Tales from Past Times with Morals or Mother Goose Tales).

The story's title character is a prince who is extremely ugly but who is also highly intelligent and witty. Riquet has also been given the magical ability to pass on his intelligence to the woman he marries. He falls in love with a princess who is extremely beautiful but who is also incredibly stupid.

A French silent film based on the story was released in 1908.


Page 93 illustration from Fairy tales of Charles Perrault (Clarke, 1922)

1922 illustration for "Riquet with the Tuft" by the Irish artist Harry Clarke.

A kingdom is ruled by a royal family whose surname is Riquet. The queen gives birth to a son who, when he is born, has one small tuft of hair on his head. For that reason, he becomes known as Riquet with the Tuft. The baby is also so ugly and misshapen that whether or not he is really human is called into question at first. Shortly after the prince's birth, a fairy reassures his mother that her son will be well-liked because he will be very intelligent and witty. The fairy adds that Prince Riquet will also have the magical ability to bestow the gift of intelligence on the woman that he marries.

As soon as Prince Riquet is old enough to talk, he charms everyone with his wit and intelligence. Riquet grows up to be small and to walk with a limp. He has a hunched back, an ugly face and a big red nose. As the fairy had predicted, however, Riquet grows up to be very popular because of his cleverness.

In a neighboring kingdom, a queen has two daughters. The younger daughter is extremely ugly but is very intelligent and witty. The older daughter is incredibly beautiful but is also very stupid and clumsy. For that reason, all visitors to the royal court flock to the younger princess and ignore the older one. The older princess becomes very unhappy and wishes that she were as intelligent as her younger sister.

Riquet à la houppe

Publicity picture for the 1908 French silent film adaptation of "Riquet with the Tuft".

One day, the princess is walking in a forest. She meets an ugly little man who is wearing exquisite clothes. The man is Prince Riquet who is visiting the kingdom. Riquet remarks that the princess looks very sad. He finds it strange that the most beautiful woman that he has ever seen looks so unhappy. The princess tells Riquet that she would rather be as ugly as he is and be intelligent. Riquet says that he has the magical power to make the princess intelligent if she will agree to marry him. In order to give the princess time to get used to the idea, Riquet says that she can marry him one year from that day. The princess agrees. A change immediately comes over her and she instantly becomes much more intelligent and wittier.

Having become intelligent, the beautiful older sister becomes much more popular than her ugly younger sister. Many princes ask for her hand in marriage. The princess rejects all of them, however, because none of them are as intelligent as she is. The princess forgets all of the stupid things she did in the past. She forgets having promised to marry Riquet with the Tuft because she agreed to marry him in a moment of folly.

Page facing 104 illustration from Fairy tales of Charles Perrault (Clarke, 1922)

1922 illustration for "Riquet with the Tuft" by the Irish artist Harry Clarke.

The princess goes walking again in the same wood one day. She hears voices coming from beneath the ground. The ground breaks open and the princess sees a kitchen where a large number of little people are making preparations for a feast. Some of those little people emerge from the ground and begin laying a large table. The princess asks them what they are doing. They tell her that they are preparing for the wedding feast of Prince Riquet with the Tuft who is going to be married the next day.

Prince Riquet then appears and says that he has come to make the princess his wife. The princess is reluctant to marry Riquet. She says that, now that she is clever, she cannot be made to keep a promise that she made when she was stupid. Riquet asks the princess if there is anything she dislikes about him apart from his ugliness. The princess has to admit that there is not. She finds Riquet noble, witty, good-natured and well-mannered. Riquet says that the same fairy that gave him the magical ability to pass on intelligence to his wife gave a similar gift to the princess. The princess has the magical ability to transform the man she loves into the most handsome man in the world. The princess says that she wishes that for Riquet.

Riquet suddenly appears to be the most handsome man in the world to the princess. Two different explanations are given for this. The first explanation is that the princess genuinely has the magical ability to alter the appearance of the man she loves. The second explanation is that, once the princess realizes she loves Riquet, he no longer looks ugly to her.

The princess says that she will marry Riquet if her father agrees to the marriage. The king knows Prince Riquet by his good reputation and does not hesitate to agree to the marriage. Riquet and the princess are married the following day.

Perrault concludes his tale with a verse which states that the things which people love always look beautiful to them and that once people find the beauty in something they no longer notice its faults.

See also

External links

  • Versions of "Riquet with the Tuft" in French and English on Wikisource.
  • Public domain audobooks of "Riquet with the Tuft" in French and English on YouTube.

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