Famed White Steeds

Cao Cao’s (Yellow-Hoofed) Flying Lightning


Cao Cao Riding Flying Lightning

(Chapter 20 of Romance of Three Kingdoms: Published in the Ming Dynasty)

This steed was one of the four great horses of the Three Kingdoms era. Warlord Cao Cao rode the horse for celebratory events and hunting trips because it was tall and majestic. The White horse had yellow hoofs, but, in some translations, this detail is omitted and the name is abbreviated to “Flying Lightning” (ThreeKingdoms Wiki).

There is no historical record of this horse’s participation in a major battle.

Furthermore, it is likely that the story of Cao Cao and this creature is fictional. It is only mentioned in one chapter of Romance of Three Kingdoms, and this novel is a dramatized version of history. Cao, being a powerful military leader, owned many steeds suitable for hunting and a white one among them probably inspired the story of Flying Lightning. Whether true or not, the mount enhanced the  image of the Warlord, who founded the nation of Wei and became an Emperor posthumously for ages to come.


Napoleon’s Marengo

The Most Famous Image of Napoleon & Marengo by Jacques-Louis David (0:50)

This Steed was imported from Egypt and named after the Battle of Marengo. Small, but sturdy, he was wounded eight times during many battles, but survived. After Napoleon’s defeat, Marengo was sent to Britain for breeding (Crank, 2014).


While the painting of the pair is very famous, it is misleading since both of them, despite their prowess, were relatively small (Crank, 2014). The painter blatantly exaggerated their sizes to glorify the Emperor. The Emperor’s beloved mount was also one of his tools for propaganda. This becomes glaringly obvious when you consider that the battle of Marengo was one of the most important ones in his career.

The cunning Emperors knew the value of putting on spectacular shows with their best horses.



Gongjin’s Campaign Memorials – a Three Kingdoms Wiki. Flying- Lightning.
Retrieved from http://threekingdoms.wikia.com/wiki/Flying-Lightning

Crank, C. (2014, September 22). Marengo: Napoleon’s Favourite Horse, Retrieved from  https://www.horse-canada.com/horses-and-history/marengo-napoleons-favourite-horse/


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