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(Lat. latrōcinium), the unlawful use of personal violence to maraud by land, was not condemned wholesale by the Classical Greeks. A left‐over from pre‐state times, it remained a respectable occupation among some communities. Brigandage was esp. prevalent in uplands, over which even the ancient empires exercised only nominal control, and where pastoral mobility (see nomads; transhumance) facilitated illegal behaviour. With the Roman state's claim to the monopoly of force, latrocinium came to include feuding and raiding. The urban populations saw brigandage as an all‐pervasive threat beyond the city gates (this was true even in Italy at the height of empire). In its attempts to control bandits (never permanently successful, not least because they often had the support of élite landowners), the Roman state relied on the army, more usually on the uncoordinated efforts of local police and vigilantes, backed up by the most brutal forms of exemplary punishment of culprits. See piracy.

Subjects: Classical Studies — Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500).

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