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 Banditti," which has remained popular with the people of southern Italy. It begins: -
"Io canto li ricatti, e il fiero ardire
Del gran Pietro Mancino fuoruscito"
(Pietro Mancino that great outlawed man
I sing, and all his rage.)
In Naples the number of competing codes and jurisdictions, the survival of the feudal power of the nobles, who sheltered banditti, just as a Highland chief gave refuge to "caterans" in Scotland, and the helplessness of the peasantry, made brigandage chronic, and the same conditions obtained in Sicily. The Bourbon dynasty reduced brigandage very much, and secured order on the main high-roads. But it was not extinguished, and it revived during the French invasion. This was the flourishing time of the notorious Fra Diavolo, who began as brigand and blossomed into a patriot. Fra Diavolo was captured and executed by the French. When Ferdinand was restored on the fall of Napoleon he employed an English officer, General Sir Richard Church, to suppress the brigands. General Church, who kept good order among his soldiers, and who made them pay for everything, gained the confidence of the peasantry, and restored a fair measure of security. It was he who finally brought to justice the villainous Don Ciro Anicchiarico - priest and brigand - who declared at his trial with offhand indifference that he supposed he had murdered about seventy people first and last.
When a brother priest was sent to give him the consolations of religion, Ciro cut him short, saying, "Stop that chatter, we are two of a trade: we need not play the fool to one another" (Lasciate queste chiacchiere, siamo dell' istessa professione: non ci burliamo fra noi). Every successive revolutionary disturbance in Naples saw a recrudescence of brigandage down to the unification of 1860-1861, and then it was years before the Italian government rooted it out. The source of the trouble was the support the brigands received from various kinds of "manuténgoli" (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 brigandage has been endemic. 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 "manuténgoli" of the brigands among the peasants charged famine prices for food, and extortionate prices for clothes and cartridges. What is true of Naples and Sicily is true of other parts of Italy mutatis mutandis. In Tuscany, Piedmont and Lombardy the open country has been orderly, but the borders infested with brigands.
The worst district outside Calabria has been the papal states. The Austrian general, Frimont, did, however, partly clear the Romagna about 1820, though at a heavy cost of life to his soldiers - mostly Bohemian Jägers - from the malaria.
The history of brigandage in Spain is very similar. It may be said to have been endemic in and south of the Sierra Morena. In the north it has flourished when government was weak, and after foreign invasion and civil wars. But it has always been put down easily by a capable administration. It reached its greatest heights in Catalonia, 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. But it was then put down in a way for which Italy offers no precedent. A country gentleman named Pedro Veciana, hereditary balio (military and civil lieutenant) of the archbishop of Tarragona in the town of Valls, 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. At all times in central and northern Spain the country population has supported the police when the government would act firmly. Since the organization of the excellent constabulary called "La 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 Catalonia, but one of the worst was surprised, and all its members battered to death with boxwood cudgels by a gang of charcoal-burners on the ruins of the castle of San Martin de Centellas. In such conditions as these brigandage cannot last. More sympathy is felt for "bandoleros" in the south, and there also they find Spanish equivalents for the "manuténgoli" of Italy. The tobacco smuggling from Gibraltar keeps alive a lawless class which sinks easily into pure brigandage. Perhaps the influence of the Berber blood in the population helps to prolong this barbarism. 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, etc.
The name of José Maria has been made familiar to all the world by Merimée's story, Carmen, and by Bizet's opera. José Maria, called El Tempranillo (the early bird), was a historical personage, 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 civil guard prevents brigandage from reaching any great height in normal times, but in 1905 a bandit of the old stamp, popularly known as "El Vivillo" (the Vital Spark), haunted the Serrania de Ronda.
The brigand life has been made the subject of much romance. But when stripped of fiction it appears that the bands have been mostly recruited by men who had been guilty of homicide, out of jealousy or in a gambling quarrel, and who remained in them not from love of the life, but from fear of the gallows. A reformed brigand, known as Passo di Lupo (Wolf's Step), confessed to Mr McFarlane about 1820 that the weaker members of the band were terrorized and robbed by the bullies, and that murderous conflicts were constant among them.
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.
The literature of brigandage, apart from pure romances, or official reports of trials, is naturally extensive. Mr McFarlane's Lives and Exploits of Banditti and Robbers (London, 1837) is a useful introduction to the subject. The author saw a part of what he wrote about, and gives many references, particularly for Italy. A good bibliography of Spanish brigandage will be found in the Reseña Historica de la Guardia Civil of Eugenio de la Iglesia (Madrid, 1898). For actual pictures of the life, nothing is better than the English Travellers and Italian Brigands of W.J.C. Moens (London, 1866), and The Brigands of the Morea, by S. Soteropoulos, translated by the Rev. J.O. Bagdon (London, 1868).