Page 1


he Napoleonic Wars were catastrophic to Europe’s equine breeding industry. They devoured

tens of thousands of horses and left their bones to bleach in the sun at Abukir or freeze beneath the snows of Byelorussia. The continent’s equine resources were so completely decimated that it took decades to alleviate the shortage of suitable horses for the military, commerce and agriculture. As a consequence of the 12 years (1803-1815) of wholesale slaughter, the law of supply and demand created a flourishing market for

well-bred, hot-blooded Oriental horses.





Death at Diabekir Nicolás Gliocho's

Last Ride By Andrew Steen


A painting by Lady Elizabeth Butler entitled “Scotland For Ever!” depicts England’s Royal Scots Greys at full charge during the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Even though this picture captures the glory of the cavalry charge across the open ground of the battlefield, it is important to note that the result of the Royal Scots Greys’ action on that day was a French Eagle captured by Sergeant Charles Ewart and the decimation of their ranks from a counter-charge by French lancers.


Arabian Horse Times • March 2008

Arabian Horse Times • March 2008




t was no coincidence that Poland’s Janów Stud and the Kingdom of Württemberg’s Weil Stud were both founded in 1817. Other government and privately-owned breeding farms were also established or enlarged shortly after hostilities concluded. Having no alternative means of replenishing their breeding stock, agents were sent to Constantinople and other cities and towns situated on the Syrian Levant to search for suitable bloodstock. Beirut, Damascus and Aleppo, because of their proximity to the Bedouin tribes’ centuries-old migratory routes, became the destinations for many of these purchasing commissions. However, most of the horses that were procured from those

regions were not purebred Arabians; they were of the Kadish casts, of questionable origins and dubious purity. In order to obtain the authentic article, it was necessary to penetrate hundreds, even thousands of miles further inland, deep into the unexplored, fearful void of the Arabian Peninsula.


ike all profit-motivated enterprises, the greater the risk the greater the reward. A handful of exceptionally courageous men, who were willing to wager not only their fortunes, but also their very lives, rose to the occasion. The tremendous dangers and uncertainties that all of these intrepid souls faced have been described by nearly every European traveler that ventured forth into those desolate regions and survived to tell about their ordeals. Beginning with Ladovico Bartema’s expedition of 1503 and up until the last journey of Carl Raswan in 1937, virtually all narratives dealing with the topic are resplendent with horrendous accounts of murdered travelers, pillaged

The piece of artwork to the left captures the tragic consequences of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and the resultant loss of life, both human and equine.

Painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme. 228

Arabian Horse Times • March 2008


IN HISTORY caravans and other dangers. The desert’s inhospitable terrain, desolation, vastness, scorching heat and a myriad of other seemingly insurmountable obstacles were invariably also described in all such accounts. Nevertheless, a few audacious individuals seized the opportunity and became engaged in the business of procuring desert-bred horses directly from the errant Bedouins, then delivering them to the established European breeding centers. Among the most famous personages were Thomas Mosznski (1816), Count Waclaw Rzewuski (1817), Carlo Guarmani (1864), Colonel Rudolph von Bruderman (1857), General Fadlallah el Hedad (1879, 1885, 1901) and Commandant Agustin de Quinto (1905), whose stories are known to almost every student of the breed. Such courageous men (and occasionally intrepid women like

Arabian Horse Times • March 2008

Lady Anne Blunt, Lady Hester Stanhope, or Isabel Arundell Burton) were responsible for obtaining the foundation Arabian bloodstock that was bred throughout much of Europe during the 19th Century. However, in terms of sheer bravery, commitment and resolve, all of their exploits pale by comparison with the saga of Nicolás Gliocho, a Greek horse dealer. His astonishing story and the profound and lasting influence that his imported horses had upon the universal breed were unprecedented. With respect to his knowledge of horses there can be no doubt. One need only contemplate the impact of his more famous acquisitions to realize how truly accomplished he was as a horseman and breeder. Another thing that sets Gliocho apart is the fact that he supplied the great European studs with horses over a period of nearly


25 years. Moreover, he ventured into many of the same uncharted hinterlands as Captain Richard Burton (1853) and William G. Palgrave (1862), over a decade before they arrived. Indeed, his final expedition took place a full 30 years before Wilfrid Scawen and Lady Anne Blunt’s famous “Pilgrimage to Nejed (1879).” Yet, until now, Gliocho has received only scant credit and almost no public recognition for his remarkable accomplishments.


lthough many aspects of his life are shrouded in mystery, a good deal is known about the horses that he delivered into the hands of the European aristocracy

and the state–owned breeding farms. From over 300 pages of documents safeguarded at the Royal Palace Archives in Madrid, it is known that he made his headquarters in Pera, the fashionable European neighborhood of old Constantinople. It was there that he owned and operated a beer brewery, which apparently provided an income for his family while he was on his protracted journeys. He was the father of seven children and married to a highly-cultured woman named Sofia Franchette, who was probably a member of the Austrian aristocracy. Gliocho was a learned man, fluent in French, who undoubtedly spoke Turkish and a variety of Arabic and Kurdish dialects

An image of the silver-grey stallion Sultan Mahmud, who Gliocho sold to Medizinalrat von Hördt, who in turn took him to Weil where he sired Half-Arabian carriage horses.


Arabian Horse Times • March 2008


IN HISTORY to perfection. There is some evidence that he was also conversant in English and Italian. Judging from his roster of horse-buying clients, he was very well connected in business circles and in the colonial society of the ancient Turkish capital. The first published reports of Gliocho and his singular exploits cite 1827 as the year in which he began supplying the Austrian-Hungarian Empire with quality Arabians. From Albrecht Adam’s book, “Bildnisse vorzüglicher Pferde aus dem Marstall und den Privatgestüten S.M. Kg. Wilhelm I. von Württemberg (1840),” it is known that he sold three horses to the Babolna Imperial Stud at that time. The most famous was a golden chestnut stallion named Kokeb, foaled in 1818, which served at that stud until 1833. Similarly, two mares, Chebba, a grey, foaled in 1820, of the Meneghi strain, and Djeida, a chestnut foaled the same year and of the Abouarkoub strain, were also acquired by that illustrious breeding farm. At about the same time, Gliocho sold Messrour, a 7-year-old golden brown stallion, to the Mezohegyes Stud where it is recorded that the stallion serviced indigenous Hungarian mares until 1829. While in Vienna in 1828 or 1829, Gliocho sold the silvergrey stallion Sultan Mahmud to Medizinalrat von Hördt

who in turn took him to Weil where he sired Half-Arabian carriage horses. Sultan Mahmud was also mentioned in another German text, “Zeitschrift für Gestüte und Reitbahnen” by Jäger, who disputed the stallion’s purity due to his large 167 centimeter size. According to Adams, who depicted him in a number of lithographs, Sultan Mahmud had been bought in the area of Baghdad and brought to Constantinople where the Greek had acquired him. The same artist/author also drew the likeness of another grey Gliocho stallion of the “Djodar Race” which was published in 1831. However, as there is no further identification of this horse, it is impossible to tell who finally purchased him or if in fact Gliocho ever sold him. The same sources disclose that Gliocho also supplied the King of Württemberg with three horses. In 1833, a bay mare named Mabuba and the grey stallion Chaban I (a.k.a. Schaban) arrived to the Royal Stud at Weil. Although Mabuba failed to establish a female line, Chaban I sired at least five get of record (perhaps more) and some of his daughters perpetuated his bloodline. He was used there as chief sire from 1833 to 1839, then sold to Italy to Prince Borghese who is best known as the second husband of Napoleon’s sister Pauline Bonaparte.

“Arabs Crossing The Desert 1870,” by Jean-Léon Gérôme. Arabian Horse Times • March 2008


The 1836 sale of two Gliocho stallions to Count Branicki had profound and far-reaching implications upon Arabian horse bloodlines on a global scale. While some sources contend that they came from Russian General Naryshkin, he was just a middleman in the transaction. Although the black Egipski was used for seven years and left his mark, it was the silver-grey Wernet who is universally acknowledged as the most influential stallion ever to stand at the near legendary Bialocerkiew Stud. He sired no less than 14 male descendants that profoundly improved Branicki’s (and Poland’s) famous herd. Through his descendent Wan Dick, Wernet’s omnipresent name can be found in the pedigree of virtually every modern-day Spanish Arabian throughout the world.


lthough Gliocho probably continued to deal in highcast Arabian horses, approximately four years elapsed before his reappearance in Europe was recorded. In 1840 he arrived in the city of Lwów in Galitzia (Poland) with a group of desert-breds that he offered for sale to the highest bidder. Wealthy breeders eager to learn what merchandise he had brought “on-the-hoof ” to their doorsteps, assembled from far and wide to make offers and to buy. Word about the exceptional quality of these horses quickly spread throughout the region. Lured by curiosity, Count Kajetan Dzieduszycki, whose family had been breeding Oriental horses for generations, also went to have a look. Amongst these horses in Lwów was a splendid grey stallion of the Shueiman Sbah strain named Bagdad. One glance at his beauty was sufficient, and Dzieduszycki attempted to buy him on the spot. However, the experienced Greek priced him so high that they could not come to terms. Notwithstanding that impediment, the Count was so smitten by the animal’s excellence (and worried that someone else would pay the price demanded) that he sent his son Juliusz with a sack full of ducats back to Lwów hoping that he would have better luck. To be on the safe side, the young man also packed a sizable amount of his own money then ordered that his father’s most regal team of four be hitched to the estate’s luxurious balegula to deliver him in style. It is recorded that when Juliusz set his eyes upon the engrossing creature, he too fell victim to Bagdad’s haunting good looks. According to several accounts, the young nobleman not only handed over all of the money that he had brought, but threw in the coach, the team, and a silver–handled whip to boot. He then mounted the horse and rode towards home, obliging the coachman to walk on foot the 50 miles back to Jarczowec. Bagdad more than lived up to the Dzieduszyckis’ high expectations. He was the archetype of a classic noble-bred desert stallion whose pre-potent qualities were evident to all by the emblematic characteristics that his get inherited. Following Count Kajetan’s demise, his son Juliusz, armed with 100,000 gold ducats, journeyed to Constantinople and Syria in 1843. It seems logical that Count Juliusz must have crossed paths with Gliocho for a second time.



ne of the most famous Arabian horse anecdotes pertains to how Abu-Hejl and the extremely influential mare Gazella were acquired. According to various published accounts, Juliusz Dzieduszycki discovered the imposing Seglawi-Jedran stallion at an encampment in the Syrian desert. Despite the fact that the whole tribe owned the horse, the Count succeeded in coming to an agreement and purchased the magnificent steed. Later, a faction of the tribe imposed a condition that he could not take Abu-Hejl until he had covered a certain number of their best mares. Ostensibly, the Count agreed to that undesirable proviso, which would have entailed staying with the tribe for several months. Then, in the dead of night, he mounted Abu-Hejl and with his dragoman (translator) on Gazella, who had been bought at the same time, they silently road away through the darkness towards Damascus. To their terror, the escape was foiled. Before long they heard the sound of gunfire and the thunder of hundreds of hoofs closing in on them. All of tribe’s warriors were in hot pursuit of the fugitives to recover their valuable stallion. Thanks only to the extraordinary swiftness and endurance of their horses did Count Juliusz and his translator out-distant their adversaries. For almost two years Dzieduszycki traveled throughout parts of the Ottoman Empire searching for breeding stock. He returned to Poland with seven choice stallions, but the three mares that he acquired were destined to have greater sway upon the universal breed than perhaps any others in history. Gazella, Mlecha and Sahara, each of the Kehylan strain, were widely regarded by the breed’s most illustrious authorities to be the three most prodigious broodmares of all time. Although the identity (to my knowledge) of the Count’s dragoman is not recorded, it is not far-fetched to speculate that he probably was the protagonist of our story. In 1842 Prince Roman Sanguszko commissioned Gliocho to buy the chestnut stallion Dzidran to refresh the bloodlines of his Slawuta Stud. Two years later, the prince himself made a passage to Jerusalem and the Holy Sepulcher. Upon his return through Aleppo, Sanguszko learned that Musselima, the widow of Batran Aga, had a superb desert-bred stallion that was said to be the last member of a rare sub-strain of the Saglavi-Obejan. Upon inspection of the steed, the prince paid the exorbitant price that she demanded and named the animal after her deceased husband. Although it is not clear if Gliocho played a part in the acquisition of that famous stallion, it is known that he was charged with the duty to deliver him (along with another young grey stallion of the Objan strain named El-Szam) to Slawuta. However, in the interim, Abbas Pasha learned that Batran-Aga was in the Greek’s custody. It is said that the avaricious Viceroy of Egypt moved heaven and earth to obtain his possession, even to the point of alleging that the stallion had been stolen from him. Despite all of the demands and political intrigues, both Sanguszko and Gliocho refused to part with Batran-Aga. Due to one of the

Arabian Horse Times • March 2008


IN HISTORY numerous conflicts that have always plagued the Balkans, the two stallions could not be delivered overland until 1846, two years later. Despite the arduous journey, which was made under extremely difficult circumstances, as well as the other complications, Batran-Aga was well worth all the trouble. He became one of the preimminent Arabian sires of all time. He appears twice in Skowronek’s pedigree and can also be found in the chart of Elegantka, the 1908 Spanish foundation brood matron. Consequently, roughly 85 percent of all of the purebred Arabians in the world carry a dash of his blood. See Part II in the April 2008 issue of Arabian Horse Times.

Artwork depicting two of Gliocho’s horses.

Arabian Horse Times • March 2008






Last Ride

Death at Diabekir: Nicolás Gliocho's


By Andrew Steen



icolás Gliocho’s last great adventure, his final epoch ride into one of the most dangerous regions of the world, took him 2,000 miles to Baghdad and far beyond. Moreover, it was made immediately after a deadly epidemic. The closing chapter of Gliocho’s saga unfolds across two continents and at innumerable historic locations, such as Arbela, Kirkuk and Nineveh (along much of the same route first described by Xenophon, 430-355 B.C., in “The Retreat Of The 10,000 Greeks”). It also took Gliocho to such magnificent places as: the Royal Palaces of Madrid and Aranjuez, Vienna and Constantinople. Like many of the world’s great endeavors, there is no written documentation that explains exactly how, when or by whom the importations by Gliocho were initiated. However, for a variety of reasons, it seems plausible that the idea was conceived and took root in a most casual way. Perhaps it took place in an informal family conversation that transpired at the Royal Palace in Madrid or at the Royal Palace at Aranjuez. Both “royal sites” have long been renowned for their opulence, political intrigue, and romantic escapades. Either would be a fitting stage to match the grandeur and beauty for which the Arabian horse is so rightly famous.


Arabian Horse Times • April 2008


IN HISTORY FERNANDO MUÑOZ, THE DUKE OF RIÁNSARES Among the eminent figures of Spain’s Royal Court was Fernando Muñoz, a dashing former palace guard who became Queen Isabel’s step-father in 1833, less than three months after the death of her father, King Fernando VII, Spain’s last absolute monarch. Following his secret marriage to Maria Cristina, which (despite halfa-dozen children that were born in the interim) was not disclosed or officially acknowledged until 1845, Muñoz was bestowed with the title of Duke of Riánsares by a then young Queen Isabel. Muñoz became a business partner with José Salamanca, a financial titan of the times, and amassed a very large personal fortune by speculating in railroads, mines and real estate. In 1868, Muñoz and Maria Cristina were forced into exile in France, but he had become so prominent that a reporter for the London Times (none other than Karl Marx) once referred to the RegentQueen as “the wife of Fernando Muñoz.” (At one point, Muñoz was even offered the Crown of Ecuador following its liberation from Spain, when Ecuador was toying with the idea of becoming a monarchy.) The Duke’s personal financial empire was derived in part from being the nation’s second largest private breeder of horses. At the time, he owned well over 100 broodmares. In 1846, Muñoz decided to purchase three Arabian stallions and a like number of mares directly from the Syrian deserts. Undoubtedly, he had been motivated by the sound advice offered by Francisco Laiglesia, a gifted equestrian and author, who had grown up in London and had translated several equestrian books written by the Duke of Newcastle. In 1846, Muñoz was the President of the “Cria-Caballar del Reino (Horse Breeders Society of the Kingdom);” therefore, he deserves the credit for setting the importation’s wheels spinning with a “Royal Order of August 10, 1846.” The Rothschild Bank in Paris was authorized to liberate 120,000 francs that were transferred by letters of credit to the account of diplomat Antonio de Cordoba, who


Arabian Horse Times • April 2008


for nearly 20 years had faithfully served Spain’s interests before the Sublime Porte, the open court of the Ottoman Empire. He consulted his consuls in Alexandria, Aleppo, Damascus and Beirut, and they had each replied by September 29, 1846, with the same recommendation for the man who had “repeatedly journeyed to those regions for the purpose of buying Arabian horses.” Such was the fame and prestige that Nicolás Gliocho enjoyed at that time! The career diplomat also arranged for the necessary Firman (or Irade as the edict was also called) from Abdül Mecid I (1823-1861), who had enjoyed his rank



as Sultan of the Ottoman Empire since the age of 16, having been elevated to his lofty position with the blessing of the European powers immediately after the (June 1839) Battle of Nizip (often called Muhammad Ali’s Austerlitz). In return for Europe’s intervention to resolve Turkey’s troubles with the murderous Viceroy of Egypt, the young sovereign granted numerous concessions, especially to England and Austria. He promulgated special laws to protect the rights of all Christians and allowed them to establish and operate missions within the confines of his empire. It is known that on May 11, 1847, Queen Isabel had asked Daniel Weisweiller, the agent in Madrid for the Rothschild Bank, to purchase two Thoroughbreds in England. However, she abruptly changed her capricious mind 18 days later and ordered that “three or four Arabians from Alexandria” be bought instead. In the same May 29 edict, scribbled in her almost illegible penmanship, she asked that the horses requested through


Weisweiller be canceled. It is not clear if her instructions arrived in time to invalidate the order or not. GLIOCHO’S DEPARTURE Gliocho’s scheduled departure from Constantinople was delayed for several months because of an outbreak of deadly cholera. The epidemic had originated in Damascus with a caravan returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca. It had quickly spread across all of the Arabian Peninsula and into Turkey, Persia, and parts of the Caucasia region of Russia, leaving thousands dead in its wake. Among its victims was the First Secretary of the British Embassy, who died three days after his arrival in the capital. The pestilence was carefully monitored and graphically described in the dispatches sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by Gerado de Souza, the Crown’s new envoy to Constantinople, who had replaced Antonio de Cordoba. Consequently, it was not until November 26, 1847, that Gliocho departed by steamship

Arabian Horse Times • April 2008


IN HISTORY on the Black Sea to the primitive port of Samson and from there he rode south to Mosul. As fate would have it, he arrived during the greatest archeological excavation in history. The celebrated adventurer Sir Austen Henry Layard (who was also arguably the finest author on Arabs and their horses that ever lived) had discovered the lost Biblical cities of Nimrud and Nineveh, some five years before. Along with his Arab colleague Hormuzd Rassam and a crew of several hundred Shammar Bedouins, the renowned archeologist spent 11 years in the Mesopotamian desert unearthing the most splendid ancient treasures ever buried by the sands of time. From the correspondence it is known that Gliocho had dealings with three of the other principle characters of the momentous Nineveh discovery, C.A. Rassam, Col. H.C. Rawlinson and Henry Ross. While in Mosul, Gliocho carried out a special mission without compensation as a personal favor for Antonio de

Cordoba. He journeyed to the nearby ruins of Nineveh and acquired three bas-reliefs, each measuring about 60 centimeters and weighing roughly 60 pounds from Rassam. The magnificent sculptures are the only Assyrian relics to ever arrive in Spain. Since 1851, they have been housed in the museum at the Royal Academy of History in Madrid. (Although they are not as massive as the “Colossal Bull” owned by the British Museum, they are nevertheless exceptionally beautiful and of incalculable cultural and intrinsic value.) To transport the stones, Gliocho bought a Persian stallion of the Kavajan cast, an animal that eventually arrived with the purebred Arabians at Aranjuez and became quite a famous sire of coach horses. Ironically, it was a customs declaration describing the intricate details of the acquisition of the bas-reliefs from the Palace of Sennacherib, which was written by Antonio de Cordoba, that acknowledges Gliocho as the individual responsible for their acquisition.

An artist’s reconstruction of the grand entrance of Sennacherib’s Palace in Nineveh.

Arabian Horse Times • April 2008


ACQUIRING THE HORSES After buying eight horses, Gliocho left them in Mosul with C.A. Rassam and then vanished into the desert in the company of a Sheik of the Fedhan Shammar tribe and an entourage of Bedouin warriors. For the next 11 months either his wife or Spain’s envoy, Gerado de Souza, received not a word from him. Then suddenly, on October 25, 1848, Gliocho wrote from Baghdad and explained that he had acquired 26 Arabians (10 mares and 16 stallions) of “the purest blood and finest quality.” In the same letter he added that he was about to commence his long march towards home. While in Baghdad, he had resided at the British Counsel. His host was none other than Sir Henry Creswicke Rawlinson, the great English explorer of Afghanistan and Iran and a renowned archeologist who is known as “The Father of Assyriology.” It was during Gliocho’s trek northward that everything started to go seriously amiss. He was attacked and forced to change his route into the much slower, but slightly less dangerous trails along the Zagros Mountains. He became gravely ill at Arbela (site of Alexander the Great’s Battle of Gaugamela) and was obliged to convalesce for over six months before continuing to Mosul. During the intervening

Excavation of a low-relief carving at the ruins of Nineveh.


Arabian Horse Times • April 2008


IN HISTORY months other letters arrived filled with astonishing accounts of assaults by Arab bandits trying to steal his horses and dramatic meteorological conditions—rivers in flood and scorching desert heat. They also relate his rapidly deteriorating health, exacerbated by the punishing journey. An extract from Gliocho’s June 25, 1849, letter to his wife written from Mosul states: “Although for some days I have felt better in these parts, I am not yet recovered; I always have pains in my chest and I tire at the slightest effort. In spite of that I have decided to renew the journey as soon as it is possible to do so. I hope that will be next week, just as soon as it is possible to cross the new bridge over the Tigris, because if I attempt to transport the horses by boat they might possibly injure themselves. It is as difficult to find grooms as it is to find feed, I have resorted to using country peasants to lead the horses by hand. … What an ordeal it has been to reach Diabekir! The heat is intolerable; in my room with all of the doors and windows closed the temperature at this moment is 27 degrees Reaumur and it’s only ten o’clock in the morning. My sores are almost healed. Now, just looking at the scars you can figure how much I have

suffered. … If you see Mr. de Souza tell him my illness has made it impossible for me to correspond with him, that all of the stallions and mares are well, and that before setting out from here I will write him extensively. I was abandoned to myself and if I had not known how to cure my wounds on my own, things would have ended badly. Today I attached leaches, which I hope will put me in condition for the suffering of the journey that I am about to undertake. Upon my arrival at Diabekir, I shall do the remainder of the trek on horseback.” In some respects Gliocho’s determination and love for Sofia and his young family are perhaps the most moving aspects of the story. Through his letters and statements made by his wife, one senses that he knew that his desperate mission had been doomed from the very beginning. Yet, in failing health and at the approximate age of 55, Gliocho nevertheless embarked upon his last valiant ride. Don’t miss the conclusion of “Death At Diabekir— Nicolás Gliocho’s Last Ride” in next month’s issue.

Painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme. Arabian Horse Times • April 2008


Horse In History - Nicholas Gliocho