Carmine Crocco

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The brigand is as a snake: if you don't annoy him, he doesn't bite you

Carmine Crocco (June 5, 1830June 18, 1905), known as Donatello, was an Italian brigand. A former Bourbon soldier, he took to banditry after killing a comrade and, hoping for a pardon, he joined Garibaldi's "Expedition of the thousand" but his criminal act wasn't cleared. Thus he became the leader of the Bourbon resistance, leading an army of 2000 men, mostly composed by poor laborers and former soldiers of the army of the Two Sicilies. Despite his controversial deeds and behaviour, many people of southern Italy and in particular in his native region Basilicata, consider him a folk hero.

Quotes[edit]

In a short time he became the most feared and respected band chief of Lucania, not only for his courage but also for his intelligence of a guerrilla man. ~ Indro Montanelli
  • Il brigante è come la serpe, se non la stuzzichi non ti morde.
    • The brigand is as a snake: if you don't annoy him, he doesn't bite you.
    • As quoted in Voci dall'ergastolo, E. Loescher, 1903, by Romolo Ribolla
  • Senza dubbio, ho fatto del male alla società, ma io facevo per difendere la mia vita; per essa avrei dato fuoco a tutto il mondo.
    • Undoubtedly I have done harm to the society, but I have done it for defending my life, I would set fire to the whole world for it.
    • As quoted in Voci dall'ergastolo
  • La Patria, la Legge, la prima è una puttana, la seconda peggio ancora. E Patria e Legge hanno diritti e non doveri, vogliono il sangue dei figli della miseria. Ma vi è forse una legge eguale per tutti? Non dirmi ciò, non parlare di questo gigante mostruoso, poiché conosco che la legge leale non è mai esistita, nè esisterà fin tanto che Iddio non ci sterminerà tutti.
    • Country, Law, the first is a whore, the second is worse. And Country and Law have rights not duties, they want the blood of the children of misery. Is there an equal law for all? Don't tell me that, don't talk about this monstrous giant, because I know that the fair law never existed, nor will it so long that God won't exterminate us all.
    • As quoted in Come divenni brigante, Trabant, 2009, by Carmine Crocco, edited by Marcello Donativi

Quotes about Crocco[edit]

  • A farm-labourer and cowherd, had joined the Bourbon army, killed a comrade in a brawl, deserted and lived as an outlaw for ten years. He joined the liberal insurgents in 1860 in the hope of an amnesty for his past offences, and subsequently became the most formidable guerilla chief and leader of men on the Bourbon side.
  • In such a crowd, so numerous and composed of such heterogeneous elements, it might have appeared almost absurd to look for discipline; but perfect discipline there was, for, whatever his other qualities might be, Crocco most undoubtedly was a "ruler of men". His word in that band was law, and the punishment of disaffection was death.
  • From having once been a peaceful shepherd, [he] had become the terror of southern Italy. [...] The usual occupation of Crocco's band was robbery of the wealthy Italians of the vicinity, battles with the Italian troops, and the seizure and robbery of rich foreigners, for whose deliverance heavy ransoms were demanded. When a detachment of troops was sent against them, they showed considerable courage. As they knew the country well, with its hiding-places and points of vantage, it was not easy to capture them.
  • The so-called "General" Crocco, who played an important part as a brigand and Bourbonist leader in the partisan war of 1860-61, was an escaped convict, with thirty offences, ranging from petty larceny to murder, registered against him in the books of the Neapolitan tribunals. He pillaged both Bourbonists and Liberals with strict impartiality.
    • Eliakim Littell, The living age, Volume 90, Littell, Son and Co., 1866, p.358-359
  • In poco tempo era diventato il più temuto e rispettato capobanda della Lucania non soltanto per il suo coraggio, ma anche per la sua intelligenza di guerrigliero.
    • In a short time he became the most feared and respected band chief of Lucania, not only for his courage but also for his intelligence of a guerrilla man.
    • Indro Montanelli, L'Italia dei notabili. (1861-1900), Rizzoli, 1973, p. 85
  • Crocco had the greatest influence not only over all the brigand hordes, but over a great part of the country people, who recognised his extraordinary ability. He was known as the "General" not only by all the brigands, but also by the peasants.
    • General Emilio Pallavicini, as quoted in Brigand life in Italy: a history of Bourbonist reaction, Volume 2, Hurst and Blackett, 1865, p. 249, by A. Maffei count, Marc Monnier

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