Brigands’ Castle, Museum of Mountaineers and Brigands

Wallachian shepherds from the south of Europe who started to appear in the Western Carpathians in medieval times brought with them the custom of organising looting expeditions. The local Polish and Slovak population started to emulate them as the realities of the time promoted such lifestyle, e.g. due to difficult living conditions, periods of famine, high taxes paid to the state and to the church, serfdom and the danger of forced conscription to the army even for as long as 30 years. Undoubtedly, the adventurous spirit and the desire to get rich quick also played a role. However, a Carpathian brigand was not supposed to be an ordinary robber. He took away from the rich, supported and protected the poor not forgetting about his own interests. He impersonated the fight for the mountaineers’ freedom. Brigands were attacking manors, breweries, merchants and travellers, and all those who were better off from a rich landlord to a magnate had to be wary of them. Bands called brigand societies were led by ‘harnaś’ also called hetmans. Some of the spoils were divided among the band members and the rest was buried in a metal cauldron or in a stone ‘cellar’. Some of them are yet to be discovered.

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