What color was Napoleon’s white horse? No, it wasn’t white!

“What color was Napoleon’s white horse?” As a child, each of us asked a friend at least once in our lives, for fun. But was Napoleon’s horse really white? Not really: Napoleon’s most famous horse was a light gray color.

The first thing to say, quite obvious, is that Napoleon (1769-1821) during his life and, therefore, of his political and military career, had lots of horses, not just one. In particular we know the first name more than 70 animals from the 1793 to the 1815; many of these were evocative: Hector, Navigateur, Sahara, Euphrates…

On the other hand, among them the most famous and beloved was a small Arabian horse named Marengo. The future emperor loved the Arabian horse: not too imposing, very agile, strong and resistant. Marengo belonged to this ancient and elegant breed. It was purchased by the French emperor during the Egyptian campaign against the Ottomans (1798-1801), and was described as docile, small and of light gray colour.

Its name was given to it following one of the most sensational victories of Napoleon’s military career, the battle of Marengo, an Italian town near Alessandria, in Piedmont. Here, the 14 June 1800one of the decisive clashes was held against the Austrians who, being defeated, had to cede much of their territory to NapoleonNorthern Italy. The horse’s name is therefore associated with one of the most iconic military victories of the French leader.

Together with his other steeds, Napoleon had Marengo at his side during all subsequent military campaigns throughout Europe. The animal survived the disastrous retreat following the Russian campaign in 1812-1813 and led his master also in the course of his last great battlethe one of Waterloo of the June 18, 1815.

Following the defeat, Napoleon had to flee, abandoning his entire stable to the Anglo-Dutch and Prussian forces, victors of the battle. Marengo came captured by the British, who took him to England. Already quite advanced in years, the horse was kept to rest in various stables, where he mated and gave rise to a real lineage. He died in 1831, ten years after Napoleon. His skeleton it is still kept at National Army Museum Of London.