Love Among Warhorses

Napoleon’s Marengo (an Arab, Turcoman or Barb) and the Duke of Wellington’s Copenhagen (a three-quarters thoroughbred) were the most famous chargers of the nineteenth century. Both were named after famous victories of their masters. Both feature in heroic portraits, and both had their hooves repurposed after death – Marengo’s as cruet, Copenhagen’s as an inkstand. This much you probably know.

But

Did you know that they were mutually engaged in one of the greatest epistolatory love affairs of any era?

I thought not. Luckily, Radio 4 is broadcasting extracts from their letters (edited by Marie Phillips and Robert Hudson) from the 25th October on. Read more about Warhorses of Letters here.

Should you like to know more about the real Marengo and whether or not he ever existed, you are in luck because Jill Hamilton has made her superb study, Marengo, The Myth of Napoleon’s Horse, available as a Kindle e-book. If, like me, you learn most of your history via the medium of horses, this is an excellent way to learn about both Napoleon (who apparently rode for hours to alleviate the pain from piles) and the logistics behind early nineteenth century equine-aided warfare.