When Was Napoleon Attacked by a Horde of Rabbits?

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In 1807, Napoleon was coming off of a high note. He had just signed the Treaty of Tilsit, which ended his war with Russia. To celebrate, he gathered his dignitaries for a rabbit hunt. Little did he know that, in a bizarre twist, he would become “hunted” instead.

Napoleon’s celebratory rabbit hunt was set to take place at the mansion of Baron Alexandre Berthier, a close advisor of Napoleon. To prepare, Berthier gathered and caged all of the rabbits himself. Once all of the dignitaries had arrived and were ready, the rabbit cages were released.

The problem was that the rabbits didn’t run away. Instead, swarming by the hundreds, they ran towards the men. Even stranger still, most of the rabbits targeted Napoleon, attacking his legs crawling up towards his rear. Napoleon staggered under the weight and relentlessness of the aggressive rabbits.

The other hunters did their best to disperse the bunnies by cracking whips, but the pack was undeterred. Napoleon was forced to retreat to his royal carriage for safety. Even then, the rabbits kept nipping at his heels, and some almost jumped into the carriage. He was wheeled away safely, but not without plenty of embarrassment.

It turns out that the horde of rabbits had not gone collectively mad. They were simply the wrong breed. Baron Berthier collected not wild hares but domesticated farm rabbits who were fed on regular schedules. Starving, the rabbits darted anxiously towards the men looking for food. Why they favored Napoleon is still a mystery, but there’s no doubt that the proud emperor’s meal that day was not rabbit but a warm slice of humble pie.