The Full Wiki

Brigandage: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

Brigandage refers to the life and practice of brigands: highway robbery and plunder,Oxford English Dictionary second edition, 1989. "Brigandage" The first recorded usage of the word was by "[Clive] Holland Livy XXXVIII. xlv. 1011e, A privat brigandage and robberie." and a brigand a person who usually lives in a gang and lives by pillage and robbery.

Laws of war

Towards the end of wars, there may be irreconcilables who refuse to accept that their cause is lost and continue the war using irregular tactics. Upon capture by the victorious side, whether the capturing power has to recognize them as soldiers who must be treated as prisoners of war, or as brigands who can be tried under civilian law as common criminals, depends on whether the detainees "respect the laws and customs of war" and that they are within a chain of command and are "not persons acting on their own responsibility".


In certain conditions the brigand has not been a mere malefactor. "It is you who are the thieves", was the defence of the Calabrian who was tried as a brigand by a Frenchmarker court-martial during the reign of Joachim Murat in Naplesmarker.

Brigandage may be, and not infrequently has been, the last resource of a people subject to invasion. The Calabrians who fought for Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies, and the Spanishmarker irregular levies, which maintained the national resistance against the French from 1808 to 1814, were called brigands by their enemies.

In the Balkan peninsula, under Ottoman rule, the brigands (called klephts by the Greeks and hayduks or haydutzi by the Slavs) had some claim to believe themselves the representatives of their people against oppressors. The only approach to an attempt to maintain order was the permission given to part of the population to carry arms in order to repress the klephts. They were hence called armatoli. As a matter of fact the armatole were rather the allies than the enemies of the klephts.


The conditions which favour the development of brigandage may be easily summed up as bad administration, and to a lesser degree, terrain that permits easy escape from authorities.

The Scottish Marchesmarker supplied a theatre for the gentlemen reivers. Later after the Wars of the Three Kingdoms policing the Scottish moss-troopers tied up many English soldiers of the occupying New Model Army. Their contemporaries in Ireland were known as tories. Rapparees were Irish guerrillas of a later generation who fought for James II after the Revolution of 1688 and on his defeat degenerated into brigands.


The forests of Englandmarker gave cover to the outlaws, whose very much flattered portrait is to be found in the ballads of Robin Hood.The dense Maquis shrubland and hills of Corsicamarker gave the Corsican brigand many advantages, just as the bush of Australia concealed the bushranger.

The Apenninesmarker, the mountains of Calabria, the Sierras of Spainmarker, were the homes of the Italian banditos and the Spanish bandoleros (member of a gang) and salteadores (raiders). The great haunts of brigands in Europe have been central and southern Italy and parts of Spain, except those which fell into the hands of the Turks.

England was ruled by William III, when "a fraternity of plunderers, thirty in number according to the lowest estimate, squatted near Waltham Cross under the shades of Epping Forestmarker, and built themselves huts, from which they sallied forth with sword and pistol to bid passengers stand". The Gubbings (so called in contempt from the trimmings and refuse of fish) infested Devonshiremarker for a generation from their headquarters near Brent Tormarker, on the edge of Dartmoormarker.

North America

In relatively unsettled parts of the United Statesmarker there was a considerable amount of a certain kind of brigandage. In early days of the United States the travel routes to the far West were infested by highwaymen, who nonetheless seldom united into bands. Such outlaws, when captured, were often dealt with in an extra-legally manner by groups of vigilantes known as vigilance committees.

The Mexicanmarker brigand Juan Cortina made incursions into Texasmarker before the American Civil War. In Canada the mounted police have kept brigandage down, and in Mexico the "Rurales " ended of the brigandage.


In France there were the Ecorcheurs, or Skinners, in the 15th century, and the Chauffeurs around the time of the revolution. The first were large bands of discharged mercenary soldiers who pillaged the country. The second were ruffians who forced their victims to pay ransom by holding their feet in fires.

In the years preceding the French Revolution, the royal government was defied by the troops of smugglers and brigands known as faux saulniers, unauthorized salt-sellers, and gangs of poachers haunted the king's preserves round Parismarker. The salt monopoly and the excessive preservation of the game were so oppressive that the peasantry were provoked to violent resistance and to brigandage. The offenders enjoyed a large measure of public sympathy, and were warned or concealed by the population, even when they were not actively supported.

In 1911 the Encyclopaedia Britannica stated that in "Corsicamarker the 'maquis' has never been without its brigand hero, because industry has been stagnant, family feuds persist, and the government has never quite succeeded in persuading the people to support the law. The brigand is always a hero to at least one faction of Corsicans."

Greece and the Balkans

In 1870 an English party, consisting of Lord and Lady Muncaster, Mr Vyner, Mr Lloyd, Mr Herbert, and Count de Boyl, was captured at Oropos, near Marathon, and a ransom of £25,000 was demanded. Lord and Lady Muncaster were set at liberty to seek for the ransom, but the Greek government sent troops in pursuit of the brigands, and the other prisoners were then murdered.

In the Balkan peninsula, under Turkish rule, brigandage continued to exist in connexion with Christian revolt against the Turk.


Until the middle of the 19th century Italy was divided into small states, so that the brigand who was closely pursued in one could flee to another. Thus it was that Marco Sciarra of the Abruzzi, when hard pressed by the Spanish viceroy of Naples - just before and after 1600 - could cross the border of the papal statesmarker and return on a favourable opportunity. When pope and viceroy combined against him he took service with Venicemarker, from whence he could communicate with his friends at home, and pay them occasional visits. On one such visit he was led into a trap and slain.

Marco Sciarra was the follower and imitator of Benedetto Mangone, of whom it is recorded that having stopped a party of travellers which included Torquato Tasso, he allowed them to pass unharmed out of his reverence for poets and poetry. Mangone was finally taken, and beaten to death with hammers at Naples. He and his like are the heroes of much popular verse, written in ottava rima, and beginning with the traditional epic invocation to the muse. A fine example is The most beautiful history of the life and death of Pietro Mancino, chief of Banditi. It begins:

During the 19th century, several brigands used to live in the area across Latium, Umbria and Tuscany which was marking the southern border of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and, since 1861 the Kingdom of Italy, and the States of the Churchmarker. At the end of the 19th century, when the area became part of the Kingdom of Italy, one of the brigands of northern Latium was Fortunato Ansuini. The most influential brigand of the zone was Domenico Tiburzi, called Domenichino and known as the King of Lamone, or the Robin Hood of Maremmamarker. He always refused to come into alliance with Ansuini because he considered him no more than a common outlaw. Born at Norciamarker in 1844 from a family of farmers, Ansuini later worked as a stonemason.

After killing a man in a tavern, Domenichino was sentenced to 11 years in prison in Rome. On May, 1866, he escaped through a drain together with three jail-mates. Maremma was chosen by the fugitives as a secure place for their robberies and racketeering to get weapons, bullets, and money. The gendarmes were on their traces and forced them to continuously move from one site to another, without being able to capture them for a long time. The outlaws surrendered once being identify by the soldiers with the help of a spy.

In April 1890, Ansuini was locked up in the fort Filippo II to the Monte Argentariomarker. Again, he was able to escape together with other captives including the bloodthirsty brigand Damiano Menichetti. Ansuini disappeared after a fight with carabinieri. Menichetti was captured after killing the brigadier Sebastiano Preta, and died in prison. With them, the phenomenon of brigandage in that area has approached its end.

In Basilicata, people such as Carmine Crocco, Ninco Nanco, Giuseppe Caruso, Michele Volonnino and Antonio Locaso showed immediately their strategy in battle and created many problems to the Piedmontese Army. Crocco formed an army of over two thousand men, most of whom were poor and hungry peasants and, along with Ninco Nanco and Giuseppe Caruso, was protagonist of many assaults and ambushes against Piedmontes.

In Naples, every successive revolutionary disturbance saw a recrudescence of brigandage down to the unification of 1860-1861. The source of the trouble was the support the brigands (like the famous Nicola Napolitano) received from various kinds of manutengoli (maintainers) - great men, corrupt officials, political parties, and the peasants who were terrorized, or who profited by selling the brigands food and clothes.

In Sicily, in 1866 two English travellers, Mr E. J. C. Moens and the Rev. J. C. Murray Aynesley, were captured and held to ransom. Mr Moens found that the manutengoli of the brigands among the peasants charged famine prices for food, and extortionate prices for clothes and cartridges.

In Calabria, Giuseppe Musolino (also known as brigante Musolino) was an elusive fugitive, always managing to escape traps. Musolino stirred the imagination of many people in Italy and in short order he became a legend. He became the subject of many Calabrian folk tales and popular songs.


In Spain brigandage was common in and south of the Sierra Morena. It reached its greatest heights in Cataloniamarker, where it began in the strife of the peasants against the feudal exactions of the landlords. It had its traditional hero, Roque Guinart, who figures in the second part of Don Quixote. The revolt against the house of Austria in 1640, and the War of the Succession (1700-1714), gave a great stimulus to Catalan brigandage. A country gentleman named Pedro Veciana, hereditary balio (military and civil lieutenant) of the archbishop of Tarragonamarker in the town of Vallsmarker, armed his farm-servants, and resisted the attacks of the brigands. With the help of neighbouring country gentlemen he formed a strong band, known as the Mozos (Boys) of Veciana. The brigands combined to get rid of him by making an attack on the town of Valls, but were repulsed with great loss. The government of Philip V then commissioned Veciana to raise a special corps of police, the Escuadra de Cataluna, which still exists. For five generations the colonel of the escuadra was always a Veciana. Since the organization of Guardia Civil by the Duke of Ahumada, about 1844, brigandage has been well kept down. At the close of the Carlist War in 1874 a few bands infested Cataloniamarker.

The Sierra Morena, and the Serrania de Ronda, have produced the bandits whose achievements form the subject of popular ballads, such as Francisco Esteban El Guapo (Francis Stephen, the Buck or Dandy), Don Juan de Serralonga, Pedranza, &c. Jose Maria, called El Tempranillo (The Early Bird), was a liberal in the rising against Ferdinand VII, 1820-1823, then a smuggler, then a bandolero. He was finally bought off by the government, and took a commission to suppress the other brigands. Jose Maria was at last shot by one of them, whom he was endeavouring to arrest.


The dacoits or brigands of India were of the same stamp as their European colleagues. The Pindaris were more than brigands, and the Thugs were a religious sect.

See also


  1. Oxford English Dictionary second edition, 1989. "Brigand.2" first recorded usage of the word was by "H. LUTTRELL in Ellis Orig. Lett. II. 27 I. 85 Ther ys no steryng of none evyl doers, saf byonde the rivere of Sayne..of certains brigaunts."
  2. Axinn (2008), p. 89
  3. Elsea (2005), pp. CRS-17,CRS-29
  4. Lieber, p. 95


  • Axinn, Sidney (2008). A Moral Military, Temple University Press, 2008 ISBN 1592139582, 9781592139583
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, "Brigandage".
  • Elsea, Jennifer (2005). Treatment of "Battlefield Detainees" in the War on Terrorism, American Law Division CRS Report for Congress, Order Code RL31367, April 11, 2002, Updated January 13, 2005
  • Lieber, Francis & Hartigan, Richard Shelly Lieber's Code and the Law of War, Transaction Publishers, 1983 ISBN 0913750255, 9780913750254.
  • The article cites:
    • Mr McFarlane's Lives and Exploits of Banditti and Robbers (London, 1837).
    • Eugenio de la Iglesia, Resena Historica de la Guardia Civil (Madrid, 1898).
    • W.J.C. Moens, English Travellers and Italian Brigands (London, 1866).
    • S. Soteropoulos (trans. by the Rev. J. O. Bagdon) The Brigands of the Morea (London, 1868).

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address