Napoleon's most humiliating defeat

It was July 1807. Napoleon had just signed the Treaty of Tilsit, which brought his war with Russia to a close.

Napoleon decided to celebrate in the most appropriate way for an Emperor who had just fought a war that had claimed the lives on many men... by a hunt of 3,000 rabbits. 

His Chief of Staff, Alexandre Berthier was put in charge of the hunt and sourced the 3,000 rabbits which were placed in cages along the edges of a huge field on the day of the event. As Napoleon and his guests arrived, eager to end these tiny lives in their thousands for the simple joy of it, the rabbits were released and the excitement of the hunt began!

Suddenly though, the tide of battle shifted. Rather than running away from the hunters, the rabbits instead turned towards Napoleon and his party and charged! 

At first, Napoleon's entourage laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation, but this humour soon turned to fear as the onslaught of thousands of hopping rabbits came closer and closer. The party tried their best to fight off the incoming horde, but eventually, Napoleon retreated to his carriage.

This should have been a place of safety, but as if being led by the Emperor of France himself, the rabbits divided themselves into two separate wings and headed towards the coach, with a few of them actually making it inside! The only thing left for an Emperor to do, was for Napoleon to order his coach to roll away and retreat from the relentless rabbit attack.

So why did this happen? Why did the thousands of rabbits want to charge the humans? It turns out that Berthier, rather than ordering the trapping of wild rabbits for the occasion, ordered 3,000 domestic rabbits that had been reared on farms. Their instinct was to seek out humans for food, and thus upon spotting Napoleon and his entourage, decided that there was surely some food to be had! 

What happened to Berthia? Napoleon can't have been too annoyed with him, as in the same year he was Napoleon appointed him ruler of Neuch√Ętel, after he had deposed Fredrick I of Prussia from the position. He did die a suspicious death however in 1815, after not rejoining Napoleon on his return to France and instead withdrawing to Bamberg, he fell from an upstairs window and died. Some suggested the secret society had assassinated him, while others say he was so upset watching the Russians on the march to invade France, that he threw himself out of the window. Either way, it probably wasn't as a result of the rabbit defeat!  

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