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Saturday, 15 July 2017

Greece: The King of the Mountains, Le Roi des Montagnes, 1857; Brigands in Greece

From the French novel, Le Roi des Montagnes, Edmond About, illustrations by Gustave Doré

Le Camp des Voleurs (Hadgi-Stavros, le Roi des Montagnes)

 "Cinq ou six groupes assis autour du feu rôtissaient des agneaux dans les bâtons. Au milieu de la foule, un ruban de danseurs serpentait lentement au son d’une musique effroyable. Les coupes de fusil partaient dans tous les sens...L’orchestre était composé d’un tambourin sourd et d’un flageolet criard: le tambourin était devenu sourd à force d’entendre crier le flageolet. Les danseurs avaient ôté leurs souliers pour être plus agiles. Ils se démenaient sur place et faisaient craquer leurs os en mesure, ou à peu près. De temps en temps, l’un d’eux quittait le bal, avalait une coup de vin, mordait dans un morceau de viande, tirait un coup de fusil, et retournait à la danse".

Illustrations from my 1893 illustrated edition

"Le Roi des Montagnes" ("The king of the mountains") is a French-language novel published in 1857 by Edmond About. A film adaptation starring Lucile Saint-Simon and Claude Rollet was released in 1962".

"A young French botanist fresh out of the University is sent to Greece by the National Museum of Natural History to study flora. In search of rare plants, he met two English women, a mother and her daughter, on the road that leads to the Parnitha. All three are abducted by a band of brigands led by Hadgi-Stavros , "the king of the mountains", known for his cruelty . Given the refusal of the old English lady to pay the ransom, the botanist, loving the daughter, tries several times to escape".


A Pallikari of Ioannina - for comparison
(dressed more for the town than the mountain-
or a bit of a poseur?)

Την εποχή της Τουρκοκρατίας και της Ελληνικής Επανάστασης, η λέξη παλληκάρι αντιστοιχούσε σε ένοπλο πολεμιστή που ανήκε σε ομάδα άτακτου στρατού ή σε ομάδα κλεφτών ή αρματολών, Wikipedia definition

On the flageolet

Another sample page from Le Roi des Montagnes (not very gallant or polite!)


  1. Hi Jim,
    My name is Caroline Ritter, and I am an Assistant Professor of History at Texas State University in the United States. In my research I examine British cultural relations in East and West Africa in the 1960s and 1970s, including in particular the British Council and aid to media organizations. I wanted to contact you to inquire whether you are interested in being interviewed as part of my research. If you are willing, I am particularly interested in hearing more details about your experiences and impressions working in Ethiopia and Kenya during the 1970s. If you have any questions or would like any other information, I hope you will consider contacting me at Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.

  2. Hi Caroline,

    Thank you, I'm very happy to help. I have a lot of material. I have replied via my main email.

    Please check in case it goes into your junk email box!