Hortobágy National Park Directorate
Famous outlaws of the Hortobágy

Famous outlaws of the Hortobágy

 

One of the most famous locales of the outlaw-world is the Hortobágy - "the Canaan raising good-legged, sleek horses, fattening large and robust cattle and breeding strong, withstanding draught oxen". The outlaws, on the one hand were the most down and out, jobless, wandering footpads of the legendary shepherd-life, on the other hand they were the heroes of this same world from the aspect of human behaviour. The outlaw-world had evolved in the Great Hungarian Plain amid feudal economic situations in the second half of the 18th century and came to an end in the 1870s by the chief police officer Gedeon Ráday. The people attributed almost supernatural powers to some of the outlaws and this way they became part of the belief-system of the shepherds.

The most famous of the outlaws who rambled on the Hortobágy was Angyal Bandi. His real name was András Ónody (1760-1806), a descendant of a noble family of Sajószentpéter. According to folk-belief he became an outlaw for the amusement. He visited the Hortobágy and its environment with his well-organized gang. The dispelling and pilferage of the animal-fairs of Karcag and Mezőtúr were his famous deeds. The tradition remembers his well-built figure, his courage and his supernatural powers. Although he was an ordinary noble-outlaw, he was soon versed in legends. The ballad titled "The song of Angyal Bandi going to the Great Plain" was the first product of the Hungarian popular literature, and appeared in print in 1810. István Balog used it as the prime source for the first outlaw-play, that was played for a long time in the Népszínkör (~ Popular Theatre) in Pest. The other famous outlaw, Marci Zöld, leader of the outlaws of Bihar County was also a frequent visitor on the Hortobágy. He also inspired popular literature and was written in the book "The life-story of the two famous outlaws Marci Zöld, Betskereki and their other companions" published between 1815 and 1820. The youngest runner-outlaw, Imre Bogár (Szabó) another common visitor of the Hortobágy, was hanged in 1862, when he was 20. However, the outlaw-ballad about him is one of the oldest and most unitary outlaw-ballads into which his name was put only in 1881, when the ballad was published at full length. Other outlaws can also be mentioned like Pista Fábián, Pista Sós from the region of Szentmargita, Pista Geszti (or Geszten) visiting from the Nyírség region, etc.

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