Legendary ways to join a band of brigands

Mirroring the traditions of the Irish FIanna, the prospective members of a Carpathian brigand band would have to pass a series of tests to prove they were worthy. Here are a few examples from period texts.

The English Illustrated Magazine 1888:

“Yanosik had twelve bandits under him, and every man that wanted to join his band had to do something clever. One jumped to the top of a fir-tree, cut off the top branch with a sword, and shot another top branch off with his pistol. Another broke in half the thickest trees, and n fourth crushed the hardest stone in his hand. Every one showed what he could do, and when Yanosik jumped he went higher than the tallest tree in the forest.”


On the High Uplands Sagas, Songs, Tales and Legends of the Carpathians by Stanislaw Vincenz:

“But now they had to pass various tests. high up on the mountain was a slippery plank bridge leading across a precipice, from one cliff to another. Anyone who passed across that plank easily and without fear Dobosz accepted in his band. But then as a further test, the newcomer had to place his hand on a stone, while Rachowski swung a great pick, as though intending to strike the hand with it. Many a brave young fellow set his hand on the stone and cried with a laugh; “Let the devil take my hand, so long as I am with our old man Dobosz.” And they did not even blink when Rachowski swung the pick. When Dobosz was satified and, looking the volunteer straight in the eyes said kindly; “You’re fine, you’re the sort for us.” Some were also set the test of firing from a flintlock at eagles or kites flying high above.
After the tests were completed, standing besides Dosz’s seat the youngster took a solemn oath on dobosz’s enormous axe, over which guns were crossed. The oath was; “I swear by the thunder-axe to you, father; and to you glorious company of youngsters. I shall obey you, father and leader, and be a faithful comrade to you, my brothers. I shall never betray anything, even though I be totured by the gentry in their torture chamber, quartered and burned alive. If i fail to keep my oath, let this thunder-axe and my comrades weapons not fail to find me either on the earth or under the earth. So be it. Amen!”
Then, flintlocks, pistolets, long barreled pistols, sabers and axes were brought out from the cells in the rock; the weapons were all oiled, and frequently stored in chests. The youngsters brought some weapons with them, and often many of them carried two guns and several pistols in their belts. Al the weapons were decorated with encrustation of fine workmanship, the work of long winter months. Each man had a javelin, a brass axe, a very sharp steel axe, and two or three decorated powder horns.”

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