From Prairial to Pop Culture. Day Seven. Did you hear about Robespierre’s terrible bee stings?

Reconstructed face of robespierre acc to Philippe Froesch

An aura of mystery surrounds Robespierre’s actions in late June — July 1794. One explanation is found in an odd little story about Robespierre befriending two poor orphans in the country, called Robespierre et les deux orphelins, ou Histoire secrète des derniers jours de Robespierre (London, 1794). It appears that late one night in June 1794, Robespierre fell asleep under a tree while stumbling home from a drunken Jacobin dinner. When he awoke, he saw a little boy determined trying to catch a swarm of bees that had lost their queen.  What happens next?

  1. Robespierre sneakily catches the queen in a box, the swarm realizes it, and they sting him within an inch of his life.
  2. After the little boys and their elderly mentor nurse Robespierre back to health, he is ashamed of his past deeds (including killing their father), and so he vows to restore the monarchy and the Catholic church for them upon his return to Paris.
  3. Robespierre falls into a delirium from all the bee stings and starts naming names of the guilty Jacobins who’ve been running France into the ground.
  4. All of the above.

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