Recently on the news there have been a lot of pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, mounted on an eye-catching white horse, riding through snow up the sacred Mount Paektu, the highest mountain in the country.
It struck me when I saw those pictures that there was something vaguely familiar about them. It didn’t take long to recall why. Back when I was a horse-mad small child (and indeed, a horse mad NOT-so-small child) I had a wonderful book about famous horses through history. One of them was a small grey Arabian stallion, Marengo, who belonged to the Emperor Napoléon I of France.
Napoléon apparently once told an artist who inquired how he’d like to be portrayed, “Paint me calm, on a spirited horse.”
It is said that the Emperor owned 130-150 horses during his career, but the most famous of these is probably Marengo.
Napoléon Bonaparte was noted for liking small, agile horses although it is said that he was not a particularly skilled horseman. He was raised modestly on the island of Corsica, and did not learn to ride until beginning his military career. He had joined the artillery and was serving as an officer when Revolution broke out in France in 1789. Capitalising on the opportunities provided by the Revolution, he climbed the ranks very rapidly—he was a general by the time he was twenty-four.
Read the rest of this blog over on Murder Is Everywhere