Image of Napleon's "bee flag" provided courtesy of James D. Julia, Inc., Fairfield, Maine
During a recent lecture that I attended, Dr. Glenn Ames of the University of Toledo referenced the flag that Napoleon Bonaparte commissioned during his short reign as Emperor of Elba as his "bumblebee flag." This was before his brief return in 1815 as the Emperor of France during the Hundred Days.
My curiosity was piqued, but my initial searches failed to turn up anything more than a computer-generated drawing of the flag. Today, though, I found a photograph of one of the few remaining "bee flags" of Napoleon. This one was expected to fetch nearly $100,000 in an auction of military memorabilia.
Bees had been a symbol of royal families in France since the Merovingian era. Napoleon believed the bees represented "a sting, but also producing honey," sort of a dualistic symbolism.
Here, then, is the infamous "bee flag." I am sure all of you can now sleep better after finally seeing this piece of European history.