The “Bavarian Robin Hood”: Matthias Klostermayer

If you are looking for stories about the “noble robber” who lives in the forest, robs the rich and distributes the money to the poor, you don’t have to go as far as Sherwood Forest. In Bavaria there is a long tradition of social rebels, outlaws with a bitter sense of justice, who in their lonely struggle for a self-determined life bring the state power to despair and are therefore revered by the common people as heroes of the people. Da boarische Hiasl is probably one of the first, but certainly the most famous Bavarian “robber”.

Numerous legends tell the story of Matthias Klostermayer

Matthias Klostermayer, born in Kissing in 1736, leads a decent life until he loses his livelihood as a hunting assistant and farmhand at the age of 25, first because of a mocking poem, then because of a love affair. Since Klostermayer is an excellent hunter, but his employment is forbidden by the authorities, the young man makes his living as a game warden with illegal poaching. This makes him popular with the simple farmers, as gamekeepers keep unwanted game away from the fields. Moreover, the ruling class’s ban on poaching is perceived as a general injustice; in the understanding of the little people, the forest is there for everyone. Poachers like Klostermayer become symbols of defiant resistance.

Since the Boarian hiasl has the backing and support of the population, it can live its free poaching life for several years without being caught by the state authorities. In the forests of the Swabian-Bavarian border area he has an ideal hiding place. Finally Klostermayer is caught after all and spends almost a year in a prison in Munich. His reputation there is already so legendary that the Bavarian elector wants to appoint him as the electoral hunter after his release. But da Hiasl is finished with this society, once and for all.

Back in his forest between Swabia and Bavaria, Klostermayer gathers like-minded people around him and conducts a downright petty war against the authorities with his gang of wild boars. Hunters and police forces are repeatedly attacked abruptly and robbed of their weapons and valuables. Offices are robbed and government officials extort money under threat, which is then distributed among the poor people again. The Boarian hiasl has excessive charisma and self-confidence. Since he is repeatedly shot at in vain, he is considered invulnerable. Klostermayer does not wear a mask during any of his robberies, he always appears very open and cheeky. He and his comrades are heroes among the population, they are looked after by the farmers and warned of every danger. The lawmen from outside are either told nothing at all or downright lies about his presumed whereabouts.

Eventually, the fame and popularity of Klostermayer, the game warden, becomes a serious threat to the authority of the government. Against the gang of 30 poachers, a military expedition of 300 soldiers is set in motion in 1770, who succeed in surrounding the Boarish Hiasl and his comrades (who, on top of that, do not have dry powder for their rifles) in the Osterzell inn. Despite this, the 30 wildcat riflemen put up bitter resistance to the 300 soldiers for more than four hours. Only when the inn is on fire does Klostermayer give up.

The revenge of the state power for the fact that the Boarian hiasl had made a fool of them for years is relentless. The boarder is sentenced to death, strangled, broken on the wheel, decapitated and then quartered. His head is publicly impaled for deterrence.
But Matthias Klostermayer is already a legend among the Bavarian people. The stories and songs spread rapidly in Bavaria and beyond, as Boarish Hiasl becomes a Bavarian folk hero and a symbol of resistance against an unjust system.