WHITE HORSE - 1
Revered since the dawn of time, for both its beauty and religious symbolism, the white horse has been at the centre of world events from biblical times, to the 20th Century. Here we introduce you to the World of the White Horse, with its mystery, mysticism, imagery and history.
GODDESS EPONA AND HER WHITE MARE
Worshipped by both Celt and Roman.
begins with the Celts.
Circa 500 BC, the Celts started their Westward migration which took them from Eastern Europe - the Danube Basin - through what is now Germany, Switzerland and France to England and Ireland. The Celts were pre-literate and so didn't record their history and we owe it mainly to the Greeks and Roman for information about them.The Celts which controlled the area in Central Europe and France were called the Gauls and they spread into Spain and into Italy, and even sacked Rome in 390BC. However, the Gauls were pushed back by the Romans by 300BC as they built up their empire.
The Celts were superb horsemen; and have been credited even for inventing the chariot which made them forminable warriors. So it is no surprise to learn that they venerated the horse and worshipped a horse goddess. In Gaul and Britain this goddess was called Epona, in Ireland Macha and in Wales Rhiannon. This worship of the horse also made them vunerable. When the Gaul Versingetorix made his last stand against the Roman army he sent his horses to the rear, rather than risk their slaughter, and faced his enemies on foot.
The Roman cavalry adopted Epona as their own goddess.
Over time the Romans as a whole accepted Epona and shrines were created in stables throughout the Empire. Interestingly, Epona worship didn't spread outside the Empire.
Epona is generally depicted riding side saddle in a sideways seat or chair, wearing a long garment thet reaches to her feet and which is gathered under her breasts. A cloak may be billowing around her head.
The Uffington White
Most archaelogists and historians believe the Celts migrated into Britain about 200BC bringing with them their worship of Epona and her white horse. However, horse worship seems to have been established in Britain well before the arrival of the Celts - if this date is correct - as the downland figure in Berkshire called the Uffington White Horse has been dated by Oxford archaeologists to circa 600-1400 BC. It is a stylised horse figure 365 feet long wih a large eye, cut into the chalk. It is an amazing piece of Bronze Age art. However, it looks very different to the images of Epona's white mare associated with her effigies recovered from Roman stables and elsewhere. Some say this running horse at Uffington is not a horse at all but a dragon. So speculation on its origin and meaning continues apace.
The White Horse Project.
have looked after the white horse over the last 3000 years, this Project has established the figure needs scouring every seven years, that is to say removing grass and shrubs obscuring the chalk and edging the outline.The white horse was the standard of the Anglo Saxons. Follow this link formore information
G.K. Chesterton's Poem
about the White Horse.
"Before the gods that made the gods
Had seen their sunrise pass
The White Horse of the White Horse Vale
Was cut out of grass"
THE WHITE HORSE AS A
Adopted by the Crusaders & Mediaeval Knights
In circa 275 BC the Celts expanded into Galicia now known as Anatolia in Central Turkey taking with them, we believe, their worship of Epona ( or the local varient) and veneration of the white horse. Did the early Christians co-opt the imagery of the white horse from the Celts and make it their own symbol?
The White Horse of
Revelations and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
REV 6:2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
REV 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
REV 19:14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean
When the Lamb (Jesus) opens the first four seals out of a total of seven from the scroll which he has taken from God, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse appear, the first being the white horse. The other three horses are black, red and a pale colour. The white horse signifies triumphant warfare because the four horsemen represent war and its attendant evils strife, famine and disease.(See REV 6:2 above). For interpretations of the meaning behind the four horsemen please follow the links.
The symbolism of the four horsemen has always engaged and fascinated people from artists such as Albrecht Durer to the sculptor who fashioned the four golden horses which originally were commissioned to sit atop a triumphal arch in Rome only to be moved to Byzantium later. When Byzantium became Constantinople, the four horsemen were looted by the Venetians on their way to the Fourth Crusade and finally taken to Venice where they graced St Mark's until Napoleon took a fancy to them and removed them to Paris. When Napoleon was suffering reverses and decided to curry favour with the Venetians he returned the four horses to the top of St Mark's. The ceremony, boycotted by the locals, was a total flop and the band played to an invisible audience. But, the four golden horses remain atop St Mark's to this day. Although there is no absolute proof this sculpture is of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, that is the generally held belief, and visitors to Venice in their thousands continue to enjoy their symbolism and beauty.
St George's reported
appearance at Antioch in 1098 during the First Crusade
"There came out from the mountains, also, countless armies with white horses, whose standards were all white. And so, when our leaders saw this army, they were entirely ignorant as to what it was, and who they were, until they recognized the aid of Christ, whose leaders were St. George, Mercurius, and Demetrius".- Gesta Francorum
St George is always depicted riding on a white horse and is the Patron Saint of England. For the various legends surrounding St George including St George and the Dragon please follow the link.
WHITE HORSE - 3
Leaders often chose a white horse because it would stand out on the field of battle. This picture shows William the Conqueror defeating King Harold at the battle of Hastings, riding his white stallion, wielding a mace.
Here are some other interesting snippets.
PEOPLE AND THEIR WHITE HORSES
In the Crusades, Middle Ages and More Recent Times
William the Conqueror
at the Battle of Hastings 1066
"He...sat on a white horse, so that all might recognize him. In his hand he held a mace."
For more about the Battle of Hastings click here.
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Queen Eleanor appeared at Vézelay dressed like an Amazon galloping through the crowds on a white horse, urging them to join the crusades. Aged 19, she knelt in the cathedral of Vézelay before the celebrated Abbé Bernard of Clairvaux offering him thousands of her vassals for the Second Crusade. For more about Eleanor and her adventures click here.
Joan of Arc ( 1412-1431)
and her White War Horse
"Armour shining in the sun, a lone soul sat upon a white war-horse tall and proud. Helmet at her side, her loose hair whipped in the wind, a youthful soft loving face peeped beneath. Her lighted eyes show wisdom that surpasses this earthly realm".For more about Joan follow this link.
El Cid in 11th Century
The Carthusians, an order of monks, were reknowned for their Andalusian horses in 11th Century Spain .Pedro El Grande, a monk, was the grandfather of a boy called Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar. When he came of age Pedro offered the boy the pick of a herd of beautiful horses. Rodrigo chose a white foal which he named Babieca, "my stupid one" which grew into a forminable charger. This white stallion carried Pedro into battle for some 30 years, every time to victory. The Saracen enemies called him El Cid Campeador or My Lord the champion of Warriors. After the death of El Cid in the battle for Valencia, one of the last Moorish strongholds in Spain, Babieca never carried a mount again and died two years later at the ripe old age of 40.
Andalusian horses were a blend of mainly Arabian and Berber stock with some admixture of English blood.They were used with great success as war horses by the Carthaginians in their campaigns against the Romans who in turn captured and bred then for their own purposes.Its not known what percentage of this original breed were white. The Andalusians of today are however about 80% white
Napoleon at the Battle
of Waterloo 1815
Napoleon was seen on a white stallion at Waterloo believed to be his famous mount Marengo. After the battle, Marengo was taken to England and put on display at the Waterloo Rooms on Pall Mall where the crowds pressed in to see this "White Barb Charger..favourite horse of the late Emperor". For a longer account follow this link.
Lt General U.S. Grant
and Methuselah in the Civil war
In 1861 General Grant rode Methuselah,his favourite horse, a white stallion, into Springfield, Illinois.
WHITE HORSE - 4
White horses are immensely popular today not just among the general public but with organisations such as the Queen's Household Cavalry and the US Marine Corps Color Guard where they feature on ceremonial occasions.
The illustration here shows heavy white horses working in West Sussex.
ABOUT THE WHITE HORSE IN RECENT TIMES
Lipizzans, Andalusians & Camargue
The Camargue is the wide, marshy delta of the River Rhone. The white horse of the Camargue is a distictive breed and has its origins in prehistory, pehaps even in the extinct Soutre Horse. There is some speculation it may have been introduced to Spain and mixed with Andalusian stock as the result of armed conquest. The Camargue is very strong and is capable of running through belly-deep water and mud.
Originated as abreed in 1580 when Archduke Charles 11 started a stud farm at Lipizza on the Adriatic coast. He used imported Andalusians, Barbs and Berbers and bred them to the local white Karst horses. Today Lipizzans are mainkly white or grey and are very popular for dressage and for Royal and ceremonial occasions. For more information on white Lipizzans follow this link.
Named after Andalusia a province of Spain the Andalusian has developed from the early Iberian horse which had its roots in prehistory.Famed as the premier war horse from BC until the early Middle Ages, an Iberian White was used, for example, by William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. Exactly what perventage of this early stock were white horses isn't known but the modern Andalusians are 80% white. Andalusians are very popular for dressage and like the Lipizzans are used by Royalty. More about white Andalusians, just follow this link.
In equine circles white horses are referred to as Greys.
For more information on horse breeds follow this link.
'White Horses' seems to have originated in the Singapore Armed Forces but
has found resonance in America. White Horses are the sons of influential Singaporeans
including ministers, members of parliament, ex members, doctors, and senior
civil servants. If you know the origin of this phrase and are familiar with
the usage, especially in the context of the White House & George Bush (see
below) , please drop a message in the Guestbook.
The dictionary definition is this "white horse - a wave that is blown by the wind so its crest is broken and appears white" In addition there are several slang uses of the term.
"White House officials are considering buffing up George W. Bush's image as a 'White Horse' during his Vietnam years, and the slogan "From White Horse to White House" has been chosen to highlight his years of service in the US military."
"Bush Administration officials released a statement praising Singapore's White Horse system, where sons of prominent members of society are carefully nurtured during their NS days" - Talking Cock.Com
For a discussion about the White Horse System we suggest you read this article on the Workers Party Website http://www.wp.org.sg/news/news_articles/20031117_whitehorse.htm
WHITE HORSE - 5
Here we give a snapshot of the art, imagery and symbolism of the white horse over the centuries.
Artists, such as Gauguin, Constable and Munnings have immortalised the white horse in their canvases and others in their pub signs, the latter still in use outside hostelries throughout Britain; and some in America where the imagery was taken by the early settlers.
HORSE IN ART
King Richard II passed a law in 1393 whereby all hostelries had to hang a sign outside their premises to facilitate the official inspection of the ale they were selling. Here are some examples, the one on the bottom right taken from the logo of White Horse Inn, a nationally syndicated radio talk show in America comprising a round-table discussion on Christian Theology and Apologetics.The story behind the naming of the show is fascinating and a full account has been written up by Shane Rosenthal. In brief, the White Horse Inn was on the campus of King's College, Cambridge, England where in circa 1520 a group of English scholars met regularly to discuss Martin Luther's writings. These meetings over ale went on to become the spark which kindled the 'fire' of the Reformation, leading ultimately to the martyrdom of most of those who attended. In the words of one writer these men "would offer their lives to procure the truths of faith that they rallied for over pints of ale in that Cambridge pub", the White Horse Inn.
Whitbread white hosre sign from the Brian Timms Collection
Brian Timms Collection The Inn Sign Society NormanWalsh International Signs
to White Horse Art & Other Equestian Art
Artprints On Demand
White Horse Studios
Lesley Ann Hartman
White Horse Forge
Apocalypse by Joanne Bird
We hope you have found this compendium helpful. Should you find any major ommission or error please contact the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment in the Guestbook which you'll find here . We still want to have information on White Horse Symbolism in America - perhaps you can help?
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