GIFT HORSE -3

Joan of Arc received a gift horse at the end of the Hundred Years War whereas Leonardo da Vinci attempted to create the largest equestrian statue for the Duke of Milan, failed in his mission only to have his design built 500 years later and given as a gift by the American people to their Italian friends.

Here are their stories




JOAN OF ARC'S GIFT HORSE

Joan of Arc was a superb horsewoman at the age 17 and drew the critical eye of many knights. Guy de Laval, a young knight, wrote home to his mother about Joan's equestrian skills and another called D'Alencon was so impressed by her ability when he saw her on a borrowed horse that he decided to give her a magnificent steed as a gift. Two years later at the tender age of 19 Joan met her fate and was burnt at the stake. For Joan's complete story click here.

Leonardo da Vinci and his Gift Horse.
The Duke of Milan in 1482 commissioned Leonard da Vinci to create the largest bronze equestrian statue ever at 100 tons and standing 26 feet high.Leonardo started by making a full scale clay model which was complete by 1483, was exhibited and became one of the wonders of Milan. However, misfortune struck and before he could complete the accumulation of the massive quantities of bronze, the French threatened to attack.The Duke decided to grab Leonardo's bronze stockpile and make it into cannons. The equestrian statue project was put on hold. But, five years later the French attacked Milan forcing both Leonardo and the Duke to flee. In the meanwhile the French discovered the huge clay horse abandoned in a vineyard where it was used by French archers for target practice.Having been pierced by many arrows and in addition suffering the attrition of rainy weather the clay model cracked and fell apart.

However, the tale has a happy ending. Exactly 500 years later in 1999 the completed bronze horse was unveiled with a grand ceremony in Milan. Milan's mayor accepted the horse as a gift from the American people to the Italian people. A second horse called the "American Horse" was unveiled in October 1999 in Frederick Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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