The brigand is supposed to derive his name from the Old French brigan, which is a form of the Italian brigante, an irregular or partisan soldier. There can be no doubt as to the origin of the word bandit, which has the same meaning. In Italy, which is not unjustly considered the home of the most accomplished European brigands, a bandito was a man declared outlaw by proclamation, or bando, called in Scotland "a decree of horning" because it was delivered by a blast of a horn at the town cross.
The brigand, therefore, is the outlaw who conducts warfare after the manner of an irregular or partisan soldier by skirmishes and surprises, who makes the war support itself by plunder, by extorting blackmail, by capturing prisoners and holding them to ransom, who enforces his demands by violence, and kills the prisoners who cannot pay
- 1: : one who lives by plunder usually as a member of a band : bandit
Brigandage refers to the life and practice of brigands: highway robbery and plunder, and a brigand a person who usually lives in a gang and lives by pillage and robbery. 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 Spanish 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.