Kari Lawe: The Neapolitan horse. The history of the horse that became symbol of a kingdom
Poverty, corruption and crime are too many people the first thing to think about when they hear the South of Italy mentioned. Very few will instead think of a splended kingdom where rulers such as the Normanns, the Hohenstaufen, the Anjou, the Aragon , the Habsburg and the Bourbon, during centuries replaced each other as papal vassals and competed in the creation of a metropol for art, courtly culture and science which in turn came to exert influence, not only on states on the Italian peninsula, but on the whole of Europé. Even fewer associate South of Italy with horsebreeding and has a grip on that the South untill the fall of the kingdom in the 1860s, was counted as the most horse-dense region on the peninsola., known for the Neapolitan horse, praised at the European courts for its strength, its high beautiful step – the Spanish step - and for its noble exterior, where especially the high neck and the magnificent head with its roman nose, imposed.
The purpose of my project is to follow the Neapolitan horse through the centuries and to investigate partly whitch factors made it to one of the moat demanded horses at the European courts from the middle of the 15 th century untill the middle of the 18th century, partly why it then almost totaly dissapered with a possible exeption for a small rest in Puglia, since the 1920s knowned as Murgese horses, and for two past-breeding project which by means of selected lines of the Murgese- and Lipizzaner horses are trying to bring back in the world the old war and court horse of the Renissance and Baroque times.
In my project I will even investigste the more symbolic function of the horse in the kingdom, for exemple as tribute paid by the kings of Naples as vassals to the pope, or as a coin minted by king Ferrante from 1472 onwards. My project should be sen as a culture-historical study concerning the South of Italy and with focus in its famous horsebreed.
To study a horsebreed from a cultural-historical perspektive is so far to be regarded as a noveltry in the historical research, and that in spite of that the horse have been of fundamental significans för the bilding of the human civilization ever since the horse was domesticated for about 7000 years ago.