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(brĭg`əndĭj) [Ital. brigare=to fight], robbery and plundering committed by armed bands, often associated with forests or mountain regions. Social and political demoralization, economic or political oppression, and racial or religious antagonisms may give rise to brigandage, especially if the area provides suitable hiding places for the brigands. Brigandage can flourish during the disintegration of a state, as the decline of the Roman Empire; at a time of major economic and social change, as at the end of the feudal ages; after a great war, in the early stages of frontier settlement, as in early California and in the Australian bush; or in national borderlands, as in Scotland. Some argue that when a strong centralized authority develops, or when a disciplined constabulary is organized, brigandage disappears or goes underground. Others argue that people held under intolerable economic subjection adopt brigandage as a means of retaliation. Under the latter conditions, the bandit is often protected by a sympathetic public opinion, and can become a popular hero, a symbol of resistance to tyranny. Thus supported, the brigand leader may extend his jurisdiction over a wide area, establishing a recognized authority. The lawless lives of brigands and highwaymen have often become legends. Stories of gallantry and heroism have gathered about many brigands, especially those who were the victims of social or political oppression, who were rebels rather than bandits. Ballads and folk tales have grown about brigands such as Dick Turpin, the highwayman; Hereward the Wake; Robin Hood; Stenka Razin, the Cossack; Fra Diavolo of Italy; and Jesse James of the United States.


See C. J. Finger, Highwaymen (1925, repr. 1970); D. Dolci, Outlaws (1961); C. Hibbert, Highwaymen (1968); E. Hobsbawm, Bandits (1969).

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References in periodicals archive ?
In a series of letters to the press, Watkin articulated the most interesting scheme for the stamping out of brigandage through the construction of an extensive road and railway network in the Greek kingdom.
Brigandage became widespread as gangs of bush rangers, led by such colorful characters as Ned Kelly, robbed banks, stagecoaches, gold camps and wealthy cattle and sheep stations (ranches).
Releasing them with their craft but without their weapons and high-tech navigation equipment, guarantees not only that they will try their brigandage again but will be hoping that if caught, they will again suffer absolutely no penalty.
"Rather than educate and enlighten by disseminating fair, balanced and accurate information, all that the Western media seem to be keen on showing the West about Africa is backwardness, disease, hunger, want, deprivation, banditry, brigandage, slaughter fields, child soldiers, gang-raped girls, harassed mothers, wasted children, flies feasting on the living and vultures waiting to devour the near-dead."
Who could have foretold that this sophisticated country would one day come close to being "trashed" and turned into a hotbed of violence and brigandage, where neither life nor property would be safe?
First there is 'Movie Mexico,' the lawless land of banditry and brigandage, inhabited by torrid tamales and dirk-wielding denizens, cacti and castanets, sin, serpents and senoritas.
He wrestled with international terrorism and brigandage, negotiated for the lives of American hostages held by the pirates of the Barbary Coast.
Jeannet briefly discusses Italian brigandage and hints at its distinction from the Italian mafia, referring readers to other sources in her footnotes.
One day he learned that a general, acting on his own initiative, had decided that he needed no mandate to search the property of some peasants suspected of brigandage. This misdemeanour was met with a vengeful missive from the Emperor, in which he ordered the military to return to barracks and submit immediately to civil authorities.
In Edison: The Man Who Made The Future, Ronald Clark explained: "In the business jungle where Edison necessarily carried out much of his business he could not rely on verbal agreements; everything had to be in writing, a safety net in what has been called 'a business era notorious For financial swindle and brigandage.'"