A Bavarian Robin Hood

On this day, September 3, 1736 Matthias “Hiasl” Klostermayr, a Bavarian poacher and highwayman was born in Kissing/Bavaria.

He had to leave his hometown after an affair with a yeoman’s daughter and began a life as a poacher. His skill as a shot made him famous across the region. Though poaching was forbidden, the local farmers much appreciated the culling of the deer which caused damage to agriculture.

Being an outlaw already, he diversified into robbing travellers on the roads between Augsburg, Munich and Ulm and raiding tax offices. He was known to (occasionally) share his gains with the poor, making him extremely popular. At the height of his fame his band of brothers comprised nearly 30 men.

The authorities were slow to respond as his theatre of operations stretched over multiple jurisdictions, the lands of the elector of Bavaria, the bishop of Augsburg, the prince-abbot of Kempten, the counts Fugger, Waldburg-Zell, and Stadion, to name a few. And then there were the free imperial cities of Augsburg and Ulm.

The Holy Roman Empire had been organised into administrative entities, the Kreise, to coordinate action between these smaller entities. But it took nearly 5 years before a military expedition set off to capture the Hiasl.

They lured the gang into trap and captured them in January 1771. Hiasl was captured. He was brutally executed on the bridge of Dillingen and his body mutilated.

Hiasl became a folk hero in Southern Germany and may have been one of the models for Friedrich Schiller’s play “Die Räuber”. He inspired Robin Hood style legends all across Southern Germany and became a symbol of revolt against the absolutist micro-monarchs that controlled most of Germany.

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