Shrouded in mystery, eerie in sound, mysterious in origin, menacing in the images it provoked, the word ‘mafia’ came into common usage in c. 1875.
On the same night that Mary Shelley conceived the idea for Frankenstein, her friend, Dr John Polidori, conjured another frightening creature – the vampire. Yet his malevolent vampire was no match for some Italian bandits, it seems.
In the earliest medieval poems, Robin Hood is devoted to the Virgin Mary. While this may seem odd, many thieves in medieval Europe had an attachment to her.
Contrary to stories of Robin Hood, an outlaw’s life was not a merry one: in the 1820s, banditry in Italy was rife; at this time, a young travel writer named Charles Macfarlane was touring the country and managed to obtain a rare interview with one of these brigands.