More Catalan thieves

I thought you’d like to know that the first bandoleros in the OED are Catalan and to be found in James Howell’s Epistolae Ho-Elianae (1645):

These parts of the Pyreneys that border upon the Mediterranean, are never without Theeves by Land (call’d Bandoleros).

Howell was a miserable git and, like most of us Anglo-Welsh, had it in for fellow-foreigners (“You may sooner convert a Jew, than make an ordinary Dutch-man yeild to Arguments that Crosse him“). On the other hand, this is along the same lines as previous judgements in Epaminondas Stamatiades (“In Acarnania the word ‘Catalan’ is currently considered a synonym for savage, thief, delinquent“) and Ermold le Noir (“[Barcelona] was a constant refuge of Moorish thieves and full of malefactors“).

(I met some drunken Englishwomen the other day who thought that Barcelona was in France. One thing a Catalan girl I know often complains about is that other drunken Brits often wear sombreros “as if Barcelona were in Mexico.” It could be, however, that the Mexicans copied the bandolero hat from the Catalans. Maybe the importance of the barretina has been over-emphasised.)

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